Airbus is taking its ‘Airspace’ cabin design to the next level – and there’s a lot that Business Class passengers will like. Central to the upgrade is a new ‘hero light’. This replaces the overhead lockers along the centre of the Business Class cabin – made possible thanks to larger storage bins along the sides.

Some airlines take this option already on their widebody jets. But when they do so in future, they’ll be able to dazzle their premium passengers with serious mood-lit vibes down the middle. This is set to create a more open and liveable space – and goes far beyond mere coloured lighting.

The concept is set to debut on Airbus’ A330neo aircraft from 2027 onwards – so don’t expect this on your next flight. But here at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Airbus’ Vice President of Cabin Marketing, Ingo Wuggetzer, offers a glimpse into the future of flying. He also shares what Economy Class passengers can look forward to as well.

Airbus lifts the curtain on the new Airspace.
Wuggetzer literally lifts the curtain on Airbus’ latest Airspace cabin.
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Airspace on the Airbus A330neo

Wuggetzer is proud to share that already, passenger satisfaction when flying the Airbus A330neo ‘is the highest of the market. So why are we driving it further? Because we are the best, and we want to stay the best in the future.’

At a demonstration for media here in Hamburg – one of Airbus’ two home cities – the manufacturer shows just what the lighting can do. Yes, it can change colour – as aircraft lights can already do today. But the ‘hero light’ brings a couple of advantages. It certainly looks striking, but it increases vertical space within the cabin. There’s no issue standing up underneath it, for instance.

In fact, given how funky it makes the cabin look, passengers in Business Class may even vie for seats in the centre. Especially on overnight flights where there won’t be much to look at by sitting window-side.

It’s more than a funky skylight for Business Class, though. Travellers in Economy will appreciate the work that Airbus is doing to widen the cabin. ‘We fight for every millimetre,’ Wuggetzer says. By resigning the interior cabin lining, Airbus has shaved 8mm from the width of the walls at shoulder height. It’s a small saving, but any extra space when flying Economy – however minute – is a welcome development.

In fact, Airbus is making this a win-win. Not only do passengers get a tad more space, but airlines get a lighter aircraft. Across the plane, this redesigned cabin wall trims the aircraft weight by about 100kg, reducing fuel consumption. Over time, the savings are sure to add up.

Airbus forges ahead with dimmable windows

While many passengers would currently associate dimmable windows with the Boeing 787, they’re now an option on selected Airbus jets as well. For instance, Air France uses them on its newest Airbus A350s.

As part of the upgrade to Airspace, Airbus will also roll these out to the A330neo. But as with the Airspace ‘hero light,’ airlines will be able to choose whether to use dimmable windows or retain the traditional window shade. As for Airbus’ electrochromic windows, here’s a look at how they work, as Wuggetzer demonstrates.

Where fitted, passengers will be able to choose their preferred setting. This could be fully open for takeoff and landing and completely dark on a sleeping flight. Or, somewhere in between—to enjoy the views without the piercing sunlight or without waking others in the cabin as you stickybeak outside.

It’s too early for Airbus to say which airline will be the first to feature its new A330neo Airspace cabin. But for now, it’s a peek into the future. A glimpse at what flying can look like from 2027 when it first takes to the skies, and onwards into the 2030s as more airlines take up the option – and more passengers get to experience it.

Also read: On board Delta’s newest Airbus A330-900neo

Photography by Chris Chamberlin, except where otherwise credited.

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Airbus unveils the latest version of its ‘Airspace’ passenger cabin was last modified: May 29th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin