Airbus reveal “Airspace” interior for A330neo ahead of Interiors Show

A330neo_Airspace by Airbus_Ambience_

The new Airspace interior to the Airbus A330neo. Click on image to enlarge. Source: Airbus.

March 24, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Airbus launched its Airspace brand for a new cabin design for the A330neo, two weeks ahead of the big, international Aircraft Interiors Expo April 5-7 in Hamburg. The news made a big splash in social media and ups the game in the passenger experience competition with rival Boeing.

A series of Airbus photos may be found here.

The interior redesign for the A330 is overdue. While the current offering is pleasant enough, and it’s functional, Boeing’s interior designed for the 787 and subsequently adapted to the 737 and 747-8, was stunning when first unveiled more than a decade ago.

Airbus continues to promote its 18-inch wide seats in the Airspace design. This is in eight abreast. This compares with the 17-inch wide seats in the 787 in the most common configuration ordered by airlines today, nine abreast. Boeing initially intended the 787 to be an eight abreast, 18-inch wide seat. This would have matched the A330 comfort, but airlines are cramming more seats in the 787 and the Boeing 777, reducing the seat width of 17.1 inches. A few low cost carriers configured the A330ceo to nine abreast, resulting in a 16.7 inch wide seat.

Other features of Airspace:

  • Airbus relocated the crew rest quarters to the lower deck.
  • Larger overhead baggage bins have been adopted.
  • New lighting and customization allows for up to 16.7 million color variations. (This falls into the overkill category.)
  • Magazine racks, window bezels and other features have been redesigned.
  • New In-Flight Entertainment features have been upgraded to what Airbus calls fourth generation design. These boxes have been moved from underseat locations to allow more legroom.
  • Lavatories have been redesigned, providing some wheelchair access.

The latter is welcome, when one considers that more recently, “space-saving” lavs have been designed and introduced on Airbus and Boeing narrow-body airplanes to permit more seats in the cabin. One wag noted that these new lavs make it nearly impossible to, ahem, wipe oneself.

The passenger experience battle between Airbus and Boeing is nothing new. For many years, Boeing has shown renderings of the 777 cabin overlaid an A330 cabin, and later, the A350. The former is wider than either of the latter. Boeing uses these illustrations to promote more shoulder and head room for the 777. Airbus in recent years retaliated with its 18-inch seat width campaign, using an effective photo of three people crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the Boeing seats compared with more comfortable Airbus seats.

Ironically, Airbus made its Airspace announcement the day after Aviation Week published a story about cramming more seats into airplanes.



24 Comments on “Airbus reveal “Airspace” interior for A330neo ahead of Interiors Show

  1. I would bet a beer that average Joe cannot tell the difference between B787, B777, A350 and A330 when sitting in 45D. He notes the IFE, the service, at best the seat itself.
    Providing 18inch seat width, and not enabling less than that without making the passenger notice, is probably the only favor the aircraft manufacturer can do to the passenger.
    Albeit most people have no issue with 17inch between armrests, at least below the waist line, it can be an issue if two males with sit next to each other. Then you might have what we call in German a “Schulterschluss”.

    • “Schulterschluss” I thought that was a type of castle?

      Im with you you on the squeezing thats been going on. When the 6 across 737 came in , it was less fuselage width per seat than the 5 across DC-9. We know how that turned out eventually- as a 717 !
      I couldnt sit that close to someone on a sofa at home, but once inside the tube its a different personal space ethic.

    • I’m not a wide guy (32-inch waist), but having sat in the AC high-density (10-abreast) configuration of the 773 for seven hours yesterday, I can attest that 17 inches is no fun. Yes, it’s only an inch less, but at 17 inches, I cannot fit my elbows between the armrests. Shoulders will be a similar issue if you have larger people on either side.

    • Addendum

      Those Trent-7000 engines fit the A330neo rather nicely. 🙂

  2. Spectacular. The A330 neo lives and I bet you this airplane will have more improvements over time and a longer life than people think.

    • Hats off to Airbus – One could be forgiven for not knowing this airplane has its origins in the 70s.

  3. Airbus keeps touting their 18″ wide seat, but they say nothing about seat pitch. I flew a three hour flight on Easyjet and it was miserable, with their 29 inch pitch. The seat was not noticeably wider.

    This article says Lufthansa is cramming 180 seats into the A320neo, and the last four rows will have 28 inch pitch. It doesn’t say what it will be for the rest of the rows.

    • It baffles me that you buy a seat on a well known ‘seat stuffer’ and complain about the discomfit.- a 3 hour flight on Easyjet’ speaks for itself in saying I wanted the cheapest not the best. The other thing to remember is airlines chose their seat pitch not the manufacturer

    • My usual route is only served by Ryanair and when I took an Easyjet flight I was surprised that I didn’t have to empty my pockets for sit down and that I could pass on the side of a service card while they were serving…

  4. Geek corner: The 16 million colours thing isn’t some shining achievement, but is actually the usual and convenient “round” number for this sort thing. In tech speak it is the standard colour spec used on our screens and even in html (8 bits each for red, green and blue). And it is certainly the case that while you can specify that many different colours, it can’t display that many. Heck our screens can’t either (look up “gamut”).

    From a marketing point, it is an excellent feature to claim. The airline can specify the lighting use the same colour scheme as their website, and don’t have to limit themselves to a small set of choices.

  5. In favor of the A330, there is also the fact that people more often travel in pairs than in trios. Thus, 2-4-2 seating has more chances of minimizing “intruders” compared to 3-3-3.

  6. Boeing 787 is actually 8″ wider than a330/340 series. It is 5″ narrower than a350. The seats are not 1″ narrower. They are .5 inch narrower. With a standard 19.25 inch isle it is 17.5 and with 18″ it is 17.75″. British airways is doing this to the new delivery. All 737 have 18 inch isle.

    • Agree, the fairly minor seat width differences are less important to comfort than seat pitch, but 2-4-2 is nicer than 3-3-3 all else being equal.

    • Assuming identical aisle widths, the difference is just over 1.15″.

      9 x 17.5 = 157.5 (excluding aisle)
      8 x 18.65 = 149.2 (excluding aisle) — 8.3 inches less

      Regardless of whether you are measuring between the armrests, from the centres of the armrests, and regardless of the aisle width (as long as it’s kept constant), 1.15″ is the approximate difference.

      • What about the 2″ for the 787 extra armrest?
        Assuming 41″ for aisles and sidewall.
        A330 (208-41)/8 =20.88 cc
        A350 (221-41)/9 =20.0 cc
        787 (216-41)/9 =19.44 cc which is .56<A350 and 1.44<A330

  7. Kind of a yawn, Boeing did it first, this looks like a me to, a lot like the A320 winglets when Boeing has moved onto cranked wing (new aircraft or new wing) and split winglets on re-do (737)

    Of interest, this is Airwise on the A350-1100 (make more sense than the 8000 but then Airbus calls the A320-xxx an A321 when its just a longer A320. Call it an A 320-300 in keeping with conventions . Marketing wise maybe e it works. I find it annoying but Airbus of course does not care what I think (or Boeing either I am sure!) `

    • Hey TW

      Build a bridge, the a321 issue was so last decade x2. Re the winglet/split winglet Airbus must have been there quite early, I remember when their fences aka were considered sexy!!

      I remember flying air Mauritius to the said destination from CDG when they stuffed their winglet in a collision (A340-200 I think) and they removed it with Gallic flair in full view in front of T2. I was concerned we would fly around in circles! So nothing new merely evolution


  8. I seem to recall some talk of increasing the seat width a bit by reducing the wall thickness, 777 9 style. I think it was referred to as “claving”.Did this ever happen?

    • @grubbie

      Side wall “tinning” in addition to a “three-frame” cabin lining side panels were originally planned to be implemented on the A330-derived A350 (i.e. A350 Mk. 1). That A350 version was also going to be outfitted with pivoting bins.

      It’s interesting to note, though, that the new A330neo Airspace cabin will not have pivoting bins. Large pivoting bins on the side walls in the cabins of the A300/330 and A380 upper-deck is probably not practical in economy class due to the curvature of the fuselage and that only two seats are fitted outboard of the aisles (i.e. a 9 abreast configuration on the A330/A380-upper-deck would probably better facilitate pivoting bins over the outboard seat triplets). On the A380 upper-deck, for example, Singapore Airlines initially outfitted the cabin with pivoting bins, but on later versions the outboard bins were changed to conventional and larger non-pivoting bins.

      With the A350’s external fuselage diameter identical to every widebody Airbus (other than the A380) that has gone before it, starting with the original short-haul A300B1 of 1972, initial efforts a year ago centred on increasing the comfort of the cabin through internal tweaks.

      Fuselage frame “cuts” and reductions in the thickness of the cabin side panels have increased the clearances at head and shoulder level for window seat passengers by 38mm (1.5in) over the A330/A340 on each side. Changes to the runner panel position at the floor level have also increased foot space for the window seat passengers.

      “The idea,” said Pendaries, “is to make sure that the baggage will fit the volume we are offering.” She said the A350’s wider “three-frame” cabin lining side panels and luggage bins will be “more pleasing on the eye” than the two-frame design used on existing aircraft. There will also be improved head clearance for passengers, and economy class seats will be wider than the current standard. “We are moving to 18in – the same as for the A380,” said Pendaries.

  9. Grubby widening the A330 cabin 777x style seems very expensive, reducing framethickness etc. requires a hell of a lot strenght, fatigue analyses and recertification.

    The driver for such a mod would be need for more seats, comfort is good already. Additional capacity could be accomplished easier by a moderate stretch. The A330 still has significant MTOW growth left. Even longer fuselages have been in production before.. technically / cost wise a no brainer.

    Maybe when A359 remains sold out for 7 years anyway..

    • I agree. A nine or ten frame stretch A330-1000 with a MTOW of around 247 metric tonnes should be eminently doable. It would be very good replacement for A330-300 operators who’re looking to up-gauge and increase capacity by some 40-50 seats.

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