Rosen Aviation’s OLED 4K displays offer vastly improved picture quality.
Rosen Aviation’s OLED 4K displays offer vastly improved picture quality.

Cabin Technology and Furnishings

A look at seven new products that are transforming the onboard experience.

We could fill this entire magazine with reports on the innovative new products and technologies that are redefining what’s possible in a business jet cabin. Instead, we’ve culled through information on many dozens of the latest offerings and winnowed the list down to seven that we consider particularly noteworthy. 

The Shape of Screens to Come 

Rosen Aviation’s flexible OLED 4K displays, with diameters ranging from a few inches to well over four feet, provide a vastly improved viewing experience compared with current-generation onboard displays—and at a big weight savings. With power units and other components, Rosen’s 55-inch OLED display is just 26 pounds—half the weight of current displays that size, according to the company. 

Organic light-emitting diode, or OLED technology, also boasts wider viewing angles, higher resolution, and better colors than LED displays. Plus, super-thin OLED panels can be bent to conform to a variety of shapes and surfaces, opening a host of future application options throughout the cabin. Inputs include SDI, HDMI, Ethernet, and USB ports. 

Created in partnership with Japan OLED, Rosen’s 48- and 55-inch screens are slated for introduction this summer; the company expects 22-, 27-, and 32-inch displays to be released shortly thereafter, first to manufacturers and then to the aftermarket.

Screens of other sizes will be available on demand. If you want to supersize, the same components are used in all, so weight increases for larger screens are only “incremental,” the company says. 

OLED display panels now cost significantly more than LEDs, but interior components are the same. So, according to a company representative, the final cost isn’t stratospheric. 

Wi-Fi for Smaller Aircraft

Plane Simple antennas from Satcom Direct (SD) are on track to bring high-speed satellite connectivity down to airframes as small as turboprop singles at prices well below those of the first-generation satellite broadband systems. The antennas incorporate just two line-replaceable units and simple wiring for easy, low-downtime installation. 

The first two antennas—the Plane Simple Ku and Plane Simple Certus Leo—will access Intelsat’s FlexExec Ku-band network, and Iridium’s forthcoming Certus LEO (low Earth orbit) satellite networks respectively.

New Satcom Direct equipment brings high-speed connectivity to small aircraft.
New Satcom Direct equipment brings high-speed connectivity to small aircraft.

The Ku antenna, for super-midsize and larger business jets, features a 12-inch tail-mounted electronically steered, phased-array system developed with Germany’s QEST (Quantum Electronic Systems). It’s now on SD’s Gulfstream G350 and Falcon 2000LX, and customer evaluations commence this summer, with service entry expected in the third quarter of next year. Installation on Falcon 2000 series jets is near approval, with additional supplemental type certificates for aftermarket installations to follow by the end of this year, says SD president Chris Moore. The company is aiming for a “sub-$400,000” cost for the Ku system, installation included.

The follow-on Plane Simple Certus Leo fuselage-mounted antenna, paired with the Certus 9810 transceiver, will deliver speeds up 704 kbps to turboprop singles and larger aircraft, supporting high-definition video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive applications. With SD’s acceleration tools, the speed “will seem like more than a megabit per second,” Moore claims. Service entry is expected in the third quarter of 2023. No pricing has been announced. 

Cover Story 

While it can bring a cabin back to life, refreshing veneer, cabinetry, and other surfaces has traditionally been an exacting, time-consuming, and costly process. A new alternative, Duncan Aviation’s hydrodipping process, can produce similar results while saving cost and downtime and vastly expanding your interior designer’s toolkit.

One of the Lincoln, Nebraska MRO’s hydrographic solutions, hydrodipping is a film- transfer process that wraps a detailed 3D image—from fine-grain wood or stone to an abstract design or fanciful scene—onto almost any complex solid surface. Duncan adapted hydrodipping from the auto industry, developing mechanical arms and dipping tanks for smoothly transferring images onto interior components. Hydrodipping debuted in 2019 with faux-marble countertops and sinks. Today, an entire galley or interior cabinet can be hydrodipped. 

Costs are 20 to 25 percent below those for traditional methods, says Nate Klenke, the company’s sales manager for modifications, and downtime is much less than the several weeks or more required for traditional woodwork. This year, Duncan received an urgent refreshment request from a Citation XLS operator who wanted the job done in just 10 days. On schedule, and in “a design similar to a flat-cut walnut veneer with a grey background,” Duncan removed, hydrodipped, and reinstalled the lavatory cabinet, vanity, aft dividers, pocket doors, drink rails, tables, left-hand forward galley, and right-hand forward entertainment cabinet. 

Duncan Aviation uses a process called hydrodipping to expand cabin design options while reducing cost and downtime.
Duncan Aviation uses a process called hydrodipping to expand cabin design options while reducing cost and downtime.

Interior Monologue

You talk to Alexa or Siri, so why not talk to your cabin? Nicechat voice command from Lufthansa Technik will hear you. 

“Consumers have the expectation of using voice recognition in aircraft,” says the company’s Andrew Muirhead, citing the ubiquity of terrestrial voice-recognizing apps. But nicechat needs no onboard connectivity (the command library is stored locally) and will have more robust capabilities. “We’re focusing on things that take a little more effort than a simple ‘lights on, lights off,’” Muirhead says, citing choices usually made through menu displays, including entertainment modes and content, and environmental systems. But nicechat will be capable of learning, too. “The idea is that anyone interacting with the cabin-management system can make it the way they want it, based on personal preferences and where the aircraft is in the journey.”

Though developed to pair with the Hamburg, Germany MRO’s nice Cabin Management System, nicechat is easily adaptable to other such systems, and its debut appears at hand. Last year Lufthansa Technik said it aimed for a 2021 service entry in partnership with an undisclosed manufacturer, with availability for aftermarket upgrades to follow shortly. The company says it has no update on the timeline.

Lufthansa Technik’s nicechat features advanced voice-command capabilities and will be available for aftermarket upgrades.
Lufthansa Technik’s nicechat features advanced voice-command capabilities and will be available for aftermarket upgrades.

Unplugged Command Performance 

Cabin Management Solutions’ CMS Evolve cabin management and in-flight entertainment system can control lighting, window shades, environmental, entertainment, and other systems without wires, reducing installation time and headaches. “It’s so modular and simple, an MRO can install it with minimal development time,” says Jeffrey McCormick, vice president of operations at the Texas company. 

In fact, relieving MROs of the engineering burdens that wired CMS and IFE systems usually require was one of Evolve’s design goals. Its patented wireless technology communicates with devices connected to Evolve touch switch panels and remote-mount switches in the cabin. As a plus, eliminating cables or wiring throughout the aircraft also offers significant weight savings. 

A supplemental type certificate for installations in the Dassault Falcon 900 has been approved and one for the Gulfstream G550 is in development. Most of Cabin Management Solutions’ products are made using additive manufacturing technology, McCormick says, which speeds development and delivery times. Products are tested in the company’s own lab, which can perform tests to RTCA DO-160 environmental standards. Cabin Management Solutions is now establishing dealerships and plans to begin taking orders for Evolve this fall.

The CMS Evolve cabin-management system reduces weight and wiring.
The CMS Evolve cabin-management system reduces weight and wiring.

A Renewed Sense of Luxury

Embraer Executive Jets’ cabin design concept for its flagship Praetor line (500/600) features “a multidimensional sustainable interior that merges the digital future with sustainable resources,” the Brazilian airframer says. That concept is expressed in cabinetry and tabletop surfaces made from palm tree wood sourced from commercial cultivation, rather than using wild heart of palm fruit, for example, and extensive use of recycled metals. 

The salvaging was inspired by Mokume-gane, a Japanese technique of using mixed-metal laminates from discarded scraps to forge new patterns and exquisite works of art. Shortlisted for an International Yacht & Aviation Award, the Praetor cabin concept proposes by example deploying leftover titanium, copper, and plastic for luxurious cabinetry and tabletop surfaces. Meanwhile, Embraer says it is working rigorously with current and potential suppliers to expand its portfolio of materials that meet the company’s sustainability criteria.

Embraer’s Praetor cabins employ recycled materials.
Embraer’s Praetor cabins employ recycled materials.

Seats with a Healthy Tan

Concern about sustainability is now taking a front seat in business aviation cabins, but it’s nothing new to the U.K.’s venerable Muirhead Leather—although the company’s Active Hygiene Leather anti-microbial seat covering is. 

Established in 1840, Muirhead counts itself among the world’s most environmentally focused leather manufacturers, with expertise in creating “the most-natural, lowest-carbon, high-performance leather for seat covers,” says sales director Archie Browning. The latest innovation: Muirhead Active Hygiene Leather, introduced this year, a sustainable leather impregnated during production with Polygiene ViralOff, a self-cleaning anti-microbial material effective against viruses including those causing COVID-19 and SARS. 

A seat covering from Muirhead Leather is self-cleaning and employs material that’s effective against viruses.
A seat covering from Muirhead Leather is self-cleaning and employs material that’s effective against viruses.

Active Hygiene Leather seating also significantly reduces the need for labor and caustic agents to keep cabins sanitary, the company claims. Active Hygiene Leather seats are now available for refurbishments, custom completions, and other onboard applications, and the company is working with manufacturers to bring them to new in-production aircraft.