Zodiac intends for its “Durinal” concept to enable airlines to increase lavatory capacity on long-haul flights without compromising cabin space. Additional benefits touted by Zodiac include reduced cost, weight and maintenance complexity. By providing a quick option for male passengers, Zodiac thinks waiting times for inflight toilets could be shortened.
The two urinals would be housed in separate 30 in. X 30-in. cubicles, each with its own lockable door, located in the space previously occupied by one regular, 60 in. X 30-in. toilet in the center lavatory complex of a long-range aircraft.
By replacing the wash basin with an antibacterial handwipe dispenser, Zodiac says its urinal concept would reduce both water usage and weight.
While urinals are “not new to aircraft,” Scoley believes they have failed to take off in the past because they simply sought to replace an existing conventional lavatory, with no added benefit.
“Since Durinal replaces one lavatory with two urinals, it is actually adding capacity and, by the very nature of the male ‘quick visit’—combined with dramatically reduced washroom functionality [such as] washing, shaving, pampering and baby-change—cycle times can be expected to reduce dramatically,” he says.
Ian Scoley, vice president of Zodiac’s ZEO design and innovation studio, says the dual-urinals also will improve hygiene by reducing what he describes as the “male splash-zone contamination” of regular lavatories.
“In the context of how passengers use onboard lavatories, and indeed do everything they can to avoid them, we asked some very simple questions: As a male, would you be happy to sacrifice conventional washroom functionality for a simple urinal that fulfills basic relief? And as a female, would you be happy to have access to a toilet that doesn’t have a perpetually wet floor and toilet seat? The response was a resounding ‘yes’ to both scenarios,” says Scoley.
Another concept aimed at improving the passenger experience, this time for parents traveling with small children, is the SkyLeaf infant carrier holder from Germany’s Heinkel Engineering. Unlike existing wall-mounted devices to which airline-provided baby carriers can be affixed during flight, SkyLeaf is designed so the child can travel in his or her own car seat and remain strapped in during all phases of flight.
Volker Galla, chief technology officer at Heinkel, says the SkyLeaf is a “moveable plate, like a flat screen” so it is flush to the bulkhead wall when not in use. For takeoff and landing, the base plate must be elevated above the parent’s head to meet safety regulations, but at cruising altitude it can be lowered down to enable eye contact between parent and child.
“This is something new that does not exist at the moment,” says Galla. Some airlines currently provide an infant chair or shoebox-style unit which can be strapped onto a table that pulls down from the bulkhead wall. However, the child must be taken out and carried on the parent’s lap during takeoff and landing and when the fasten seatbelt signs are switched on.
SkyLeaf is not yet certified for use, and Heinkel is looking for an airline customer that will give it an incentive to begin the certification process.
One supplier that has been through the certification process for a product it is hoping will become a feature onboard aircraft is Spiriant, with a wine cooler set it says will provide premium passengers with a “personal inflight bar service” on aircraft where a real bar has not been installed.
“Although there are major airlines that offer a first-class bar service, it’s not feasible for many airlines to offer an inflight bar because it means losing capacity for much-needed passengers. This cooler offers an attractive solution because it creates a galley self-service option, with a choice of wines,” says Spiriant marketing manager Cheryl Armstrong.
The portable unit has space for three full-size wine bottles, and it uses pre-chilled cooling elements, which can be exchanged during flight, to keep the contents cold for up to 10 hr. While it must be stowed away during takeoff and landing, the unit is “sturdy enough to stand up to normal turbulence levels,” says Armstrong.
Zodiac’s Durinal, Heinkel Engineering’s SkyLeaf and Spiriant’s wine cooler are among the nominees shortlisted for this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards. The winners will be announced at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg in April.
Kerry Reals is a UK-based aviation journalist with 15 years’ experience covering all aspects of the airline and aerospace sector for a variety of industry publications. She is a freelance contributor to Aviation Week & Space Technology, Aviation Daily and Air Transport World, focusing on the European airline industry, with an emphasis on how the sector is working to improve sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint.