The future of aviation – Farnborough Airshow 2018

On Wednesday 18th July, members of tangerine visited the world-famous Farnborough International Airshow 2018. Featuring the latest thought leadership, the air show was an opportunity to hear inspiring case studies and learn about the latest innovations in the aviation sector.

At the exhibition, the Department for International Trade (DIT) showcased the depth of UK Aviation expertise at their stand as part of their Innovation is Great Campaign. tangerine was proud to be presented as one of the UK’s foremost aviation interiors companies, with the campaign video featuring tangerine’s groundbreaking design of the world’s first fully lie-flat bed in business class for British Airways and new cabin interior rebrand for Middle Eastern carrier, Gulf Air.

Innovation in the airline industry is increasingly being driven from within the cabin, developing passenger loyalty for airlines and enhancing profitability. At tangerine, we are excited to see how we can continue to innovate in this area and improve the overall passenger experience.

*tangerine’s work for British Airways featured as a breakthrough innovation in cabin interiors at the DIT’s stand at Farnborough Air show.

Meanwhile, at the innovation theatre, we listened to a selection of thought-provoking presentations around the theme of the future of air travel. Embraer X’s Antonio Campello talked about their recent venture – the Flying Taxi, which has been developed in collaboration with Uber Elevate. The urban mobility concept imagines a future where groups of people will commute by short-range electric aircraft as a fast, cheap and convenient alternative to road and rail.

We love the ambition of this project but question how they will reach their target of getting the cost of a commute down to the price of Uber’s current car-sharing offer. Given the intimate environment of the aircraft compared to other public transport including bus and train, will commuters be ready to adopt this as a viable alternative and at what price? Companies will need to understand and meet the commuter’s expectations of the experience to create an attractive alternative to current modes of transport. Initially, we envisage this type of travel being most attractive to larger corporations, so that team members can travel to work together and hold meetings in a private environment. We foresee some interesting challenges for companies such as Embraer to create the right customer experience for everyday air travel by electric vehicles to take off – pun intended!

Aviation has come a long way since the Kangaroo routes in the mid-1930s, when it took 12 days to travel 12,754 miles from London to Brisbane. It currently takes just 22 hours to fly directly, but surely, we can do better?

When Concorde first came into service in 1969, the joint Anglo-French project was hailed as a great leap forward for mankind, an incredible achievement in engineering that was perhaps only overshadowed that year by another extraordinary success – the first man on the moon.

Concorde reduced the journey time from London to New York from around 8 hours to just 3.5 hours. It was an extraordinary feat; but sadly in 2003, after 27 years in service, Air France and British Airways simultaneously announced that they would retire Concorde, citing low passenger numbers following a crash in 2000, a slump in air travel following 9/11 and rising maintenance costs.

Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO of Boom, thinks the time is ripe, and the technology has advanced enough to make supersonic travel commercially viable again. At Farnborough, Scholl presented a concept for a new supersonic aircraft that can fly you from the UK to the US in just over 3 hours and at the same price point as a current business class ticket.

Scholl believes the benefits could be numerous: conduct business on another continent and be home in time for dinner, start an adventure the same day you set off to enjoy an extra day of holiday, meet far off colleagues and have business meetings across the globe without long stop-overs and even fall in love with someone on the other side of the world.

For tangerine, the most exciting prospect of this potential breakthrough is the impact that speed will have on designing the onboard experience for both current aircraft and supersonic ones. The problem with Concorde was that despite the thrill of breaking the speed barrier, the experience itself wasn’t particularly comfortable for the $6000-8000 ticket price. If supersonic travel can become a more affordable and a commonplace mode of business travel, airlines will need to best optimise the onboard experience to create a customer experience that differentiates their service from competitors, supersonic or not.

The reduction in journey time might put an end to overnight sleep on lie-flat beds, so how will the seat and cabin experience best cater to the transatlantic traveller trying to finish a presentation before they land, or freshen up before an important meeting? As Scholl identifies, all airlines will have the “same tube and wings” so the key to success will be the differentiation in the passenger experience and that’s something tangerine are experts in!

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