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:
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.