Aircraft Interiors Expo reflects industry recovery

 - April 29, 2011, 10:20 AM

There were gray clouds overhead during most of the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2011, held April 5 to 8 in Hamburg, Germany, but there were silver linings inside the exhibit halls as 7,900 visitors descended on the annual show, comfortably eclipsing last year’s total of 7,300.

Some 500 exhibitors from 31 countries, representing some 30 interiors categories from design studios to in-flight entertainment to seating, filled to near-overflowing the 337,000 sq ft available at the sprawling Hamburg Messe Center.

While the airline sector is the main focus of the exposition, there were some 100 independent completion and refurbishment centers and their suppliers from all over the world. Among the centers exhibiting were StandardAero from the U.S., Altitude from Australia and Lufthansa Technik from Germany. And there were suppliers such as window treatment specialist Lou Martin & Associates of the U.S., galley components and cabin components provider Iacobucci HF Electronics of Italy and Danish electronics supplier Thrane & Thrane.

This 10th edition of Aircraft Interiors Expo had a decidedly upbeat atmosphere compared with that of the previous two years, when the aircraft outfitting industry was struggling through a protracted recession.

At the opening general session, panelist Bob Lange, head of aircraft interiors marketing for Airbus, noted that the same four players fueling a global economic recovery of the airline business–Brazil, Russia, China and the Middle East–are major contributors in the recovery of business aviation. And much of the discussion–as it would be at a business aviation exposition–focused on cabin entertainment, with an emphasis on reliability and the latest technology.

While much of the new technology was aimed at the major-market airline industry, there were plenty of devices that could easily find a home in a business aircraft. For example, the CareSystem Platform from Mezzo is an Android touch-screen entertainment tablet with five- and ten-inch screens. It is particularly adept as a “super-enhanced” gaming device using integral accelerometers and a graphical use interface accepting all the latest “gesture” commands.

For the fitness buff, Lufthansa Technik of Hamburg, Germany, introduced a certifiable high-end exercise bike, modified to satisfy FAA and EASA regulations. (See sidebar.)

As for any shadow cast on a global economic recovery, Lumexis CEO Doug Cline suggested, “Less fuel-efficient aircraft may be pushed out of the market by rising gas prices.”

Regarding the local impact of Aircraft Interiors Expo, Walter Birkhan, president of Aviation Cluster Hamburg Metropolitan Region, estimated that the show has led to the creation of some 3,000 new jobs in Hamburg over the last six years.

“Because the event covers every aspect of the cabin interior,” added Aircraft Interiors Expo exhibition director Katie Murphy, “there really is something for everyone.”

Next year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo will be held from March 27 to 29 in Hamburg.