Dubai Air Show

CTT Cites Health and Airframe Life Benefits of Humidification/Drying

 - November 17, 2013, 7:15 AM

Swedish environmental-equipment supplier CTT Systems (Stand 2439) is promoting its Cair airliner cabin-air humidification system to Middle East operators, stressing the health and benefits for passengers. It also provides fuselage structure zonal-drying (ZD) equipment to reduce the condensation forming above cabin ceilings and sidewalls, thus avoiding the extra weight accruing when the water is absorbed by noise- and thermal-insulation bags. CTT’s equipment is available for the three newest large airliners: the Airbus A350 and A380, and Boeing 787.

The company has recently launched a Cair system for Boeing 777-300ER airline first-class cabins, following installation on several corporate 777s; the system comprises humidification, ZD and crew-rest area applications. A similar system is standard fit on the Boeing 787 and available for executive variants, for which CTT sees a local Middle East/Gulf market for up to four aircraft.

The equipment is offered as an option on the new Airbus A350 and the A380; German carrier Lufthansa selected the Cair equipment for its A380 first-class cabins (and is seen as a potential customer for its 747-8 fleet). CTT Systems sales and marketing vice-president Peter Landquist told AIN that there is “a good chance” of selection for the upgraded 777X.

Alongside the 777, Landquist sees the Airbus A330 as a good retrofit opportunity for “a very neat system of one humidifier for first class and one or two zonal dryers.” Among smaller jetliners, CTT is running a trial with UK low-cost carrier (LCC) Easyjet on four Airbus A320s, while local LCC Flydubai has its ZD equipment on its 737-800s. Easyjet suggests that the equipment can reduce moisture by up to 250 kg (550 pounds) on each flight.

The equipment has been selected for more than 50 corporate aircraft (such as Boeing Business Jets–777 and 747-8 models–and Airbus A320 and A330 corporate jets), and CTT sees smaller business jets as a potential market.

Its focus in the Arab market is concentrated on the Cair system, with Flydubai’s 737s used for reference. “This region doesn’t suffer [the] condensation-related problems [of] more moist and cold locations,” according to Landquist.

He said that local airlines’ “response and understanding for the need to introduce the system has been quite good, but it is a discussion of who shall become the first [customer].” CTT said twin-aisle operators are most interested “as [such aircraft] are used for long-distance operation. It is a huge market, as all the Arabian carriers offer first-class [cabins], which is our focus.” Operators such as Emirates here in Dubai, or Singapore Airlines (SIA) in equatorial Asia, are seen as very good candidates for 777 applications, but Landquist does not expect to announce orders before early 2014. (Since 2007, SIA has operated CTT humidifiers in A380 crew-rest areas.)

Humidifying the 777-300ER first-class cabin can increase the air-moisture content for premium passengers “from the insanitary 5-percent level to 20 to 25 percent without significant impact on payload/range,” said CTT. “Cair is based on operator requirements and demand for an economical system, [and] increased humidity will enhance [travelers’] overall in-flight experience–more rested with less negative impact from jetlag [and] without skin, eye and throat problems. Higher humidity [also] restores the delicate taste of food and wine–flavors lost in the drier cabin ambience.”

CTT claims that demand for humidification is growing steadily. The equipment is supplier-furnished equipment on the A350, with the manufacturer also reporting more frequent airline requests for retrofit availability.

The B777-300ER system’s net weight is negligible, claims CTT, a characteristic attributed to the company’s “unique” ZD technology, and the low consumption rate (3.2 liters/hour, or an overall 43 liters on a 15-hour flight) of the humidifiers, which means that operators do not need to carry additional water. Total in-service system weight is put at 58 kg (128 pounds), while estimated retrofit installation time is about 180 hours.

Landquist said current cabin-air arrangements provide a paradox. “The objective is to increase passenger experience and well-being to motivate the premium price. The fact that passengers paying the most have been exposed to insanitary dry air has long been an eyesore for the industry. From now on, they can fully benefit from airline investments in new, better first-class cabins,” he commented.

On long-haul flights, passengers and crew are exposed to relative humidity levels of 7 to 10 percent in business- and 10 to 15 percent in economy-class cabins because of the closer seating (relative to that in first-class areas), according to Landquist. “Ironically, the cabin with [lowest] seat density and the highest cost/seat [has] the lowest humidity. Several medical studies conclude that a slight increase of relative humidity is beneficial, as the increase improves tear-film stability and nasal patency (increasing resistance to viral infections and so forth). It also reduces headaches, as well as ocular, nasal and dermal dryness symptoms.”

Landquist acknowledges ZD and flight-deck humidifier reliability problems during initial 787 service, for which CTT has developed a system upgrade involving new part numbers introduced via a Boeing service bulletin.