As airlines seek to add more seats and new concepts in cabin configurations and onboard service, galleys are being revamped, too. 

“Today’s galleys—and lavatories—represent an integration of engineering and design to maximize cabin space,” says P.J. Wilcynski, payloads chief architect for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle. “New technology is being introduced to ovens, coffee makers and other components that provide the functionality within the galley’s shell.”

According to Ben Orson, managing director of London-based JPA Design, the galley serves three functions. Among them is the all-important first impression made on passengers.

“For those airlines that really concentrate on the inflight product, a galley can provide very high value for [brand] differentiation with the competition,” he says. “Since the galley is usually located at the passenger door, it’s very important for the airlines to do something with the entry space on the aircraft. This has resulted in more customization of galleys, [departing] from a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach. There’s a lot you can do if you’re willing to invest in that floor space.”

The second function, says Orson, is to provide space for food storage and preparation equipment, while the third— which is more typical on long-haul, twin-aisle aircraft with premium cabins—is to provide a walk-up bar where passengers can get food or drinks during the flight.

The function of the galley depends largely on the airline’s business model and whether it is installed on narrowbody short-haul or long-distance widebody aircraft, notes Nina Schulz, head of product sales, aircraft modification and base maintenance for Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg.

“On widebody aircraft, galleys still support sophisticated meal concepts, even going beyond the well-known possibilities,” she says. “In fact, Lufthansa Technik just introduced an induction platform that enables cooking on the aircraft, which is a huge development in the passenger experience for premium-class services.”

On narrowbody aircraft, where hot meals are not complimentary but are considered an ancillary service, the trend is in the opposite direction, says Schulz. “However, smart storage capacity still remains a requirement,” she notes.

Schulz adds that for airlines installing high-density cabin layouts to increase passenger loads, Lufthansa Technik is offering its Skypax solution. Designed in partnership with Hamburg-based Diehl Aerosystems, Skypax provides a “customizable product,” combining the galley and lavatory into a single monument, replacing the large standard galley and lavatories. “By installing Skypax, it is possible to increase seat count by 12 additional seats or to allow a wider seat pitch for a more spacious cabin,” she says.

Jakob Versemann, Diehl Aerosystems’ vice president for sales, buyer-furnished equipment (BFE) and retrofit, points out that “the primary retrofit focus” of Skypax is on the Airbus A320. The unit, which combines a galley with a double lavatory, will be installed in the aircraft’s rear bulkhead area—behind the aft door—instead of at the front door, where the space can be used for additional seating.

European Aviation Safety Agency certification for Skypax is targeted for the second quarter. Installation, Versemann notes, would require about 10 days of downtime and would likely be scheduled for a major maintenance event. He adds that Diehl Aerosystems is studying a similar product for Boeing 737s.

Looking ahead, Versemann says that Diehl Aerosystems is developing a concept it has dubbed “Smart Galley.”

“The design incorporates a touch panel that will recognize and activate any insert such as coffee makers or ovens, whether originally installed or new replacement,” he explains. “Smart Galley will require no heavy modifications and offer flexibility with the food service the airline wants to offer. This is of great interest to the leasing companies, as well as operators that fly under different marketing alliances or deploy aircraft on routes with different food service requirements.”

Gavin Balasingam, head of engineering at AIM Altitude in New Zealand, reports that the company has developed numerous innovations enabling new technologies to flow through galley design. Among the new features he points to are variations to the standard galley envelope and shape to gain layout of passenger accommodation space adjacent to angled seating in premium classes; integration of inflight entertainment monitors to facilitate service management; aesthetic materials and surface finishes of benchtops and glass racks and sinks flush with the benchtop.

“The objectives of our new designs are improved inflight service delivery and enhanced aesthetic appeal, while ensuring both maintainability and weight meet the requirements of the airline,” he says. “To do this, we are disguising functional galley equipment such as task lighting and ventilation, for improved appearance during boarding and nonservice phases. This includes cross-aisle ceilings incorporating programmable lighting scenes.”

Balasingam agrees that the entirety of an aircraft cabin is a visual representation of the airline’s brand. “Galleys have an important part to play in delivering a desirable passenger experience,” he says.