Final Year Project
This project is a continuation of ST Aerospace Aircraft Seat Design Competition submission in 2013. The event opened up my perspective on various challenges present in economy long haul flights and I decided to keep exploring it as my final year project in NTU.
How to improve economy class passenger’s experience on long haul flights?
Nowadays, a huge number of people has experienced air travel and with that comes a greater attention to comfort and service offered during the flight, especially for long haul economy class passengers. In cramped conditions, the passengers need to spend hours and often the well-being becomes worse. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have been trying to make the experience more comfortable (improved cabin ambiance, less engine noise, IFE, improve meal and drinks services and so on). Although these improvements increase the comfort in a certain level, there are still more important aspects, such as personal space and physical uneasiness. At the end, passengers with a limited budget will still not get a pleasant experience with the current services that airlines provide.
Personally, I have never been on a plane more than a couple of hours. So I decided to ask around and familiarize myself with the experience on long-haul flights and what are the current struggles. And through interviews and reading airlines reports, I found out that physical discomfort is still a major issue. It includes prolong sitting, fatigue, and dehydration (certainly, sitting down for a long time is not ideal for human body). The other issue is personal space. Although it is not very prominent as most of the participants aware that limited space is expected in economy class.
I decided to explore a concept of an interactive in-flight health system. It consists of:
a. Interactive in-flight exercise is utilizing movable footrest which is commonly available in every long-haul economy class seats. The sensor in the footrest will count the number of ankle movements. When it reaches a certain threshold, an incentive will be provided by the airlines.
b. Smart cup holder. To keep the passenger hydrated, drink tracker and a reminder are incorporated to encourage passengers to drink more during air traveling. This tracking system is embedded inside the aircraft seat cup holder. It is equipped with a pressure sensor that detects two states of the cup, with and without water. When the cup is empty, the LED light will on and it will inform both the passenger and flight attendants.
To deal with personal space problem, several ideas were developed during the ideation process, which include repositioning and integrating several features to provide more legroom, such as (1)thin back seat, (2)high literature pocket, and (3)integrated tray table and armrest.
Reflecting back, I realize that evaluation is crucial to validate or improve my ideas. Although I also understand that it would be hard to do a proper test with users in the real environment, a functioning seat prototype would be good enough to start getting initial feedback.