Boeing Frontiers
June 2003
Volume 02, Issue 02
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Commercial Airplanes


Creating more space; adding more value


Overhead Crew Rests on the 777Everyone wants to get the most out of their space. Whether it's a kitchen pantry, office area or home garage, space efficiency is a priority.

Just ask three Boeing teams in Everett, Wash., where their daily space challenges lie within the confines of an airframe. Their goal: creating more room for customer amenities, without utilizing space designated for seats or cargo.

"Everything comes back to passenger satisfaction while generating more revenue for our airline customers," said Doug Ackerman, deputy engineering leader for the Boeing 777 Overhead Space Utilization project. "Airlines are asking for creative space solutions. This translates into opportunities for us to imaginatively solve a customer's problem."

So, what do airlines want inside an airplane besides passengers, extra seating capacity and cargo capability? How does Boeing make interior cabin space more attractive to passengers and more efficient and profitable for airlines?

The space experts

Space in airplanes is incredibly valuable and extremely complex to enhance, said Alan Anderson, chief engineer at the Payloads Concept Center. "We focus our work on products that Boeing manufactures today as well as products for tomorrow's customer," he said. "We're always looking at futuristic design concepts and finding new and innovative ways to implement ideas."

One of the first innovative space projects, spearheaded by the 777 program and 747 Product Development, was to design an inventive layout for crew rests on the Boeing 777. The teams first identified space in the overhead section—the area located between the top of the stow bins and the crown of the airplane—that could be cleared out and reworked to accommodate variable uses.

"When the work first started, it was strange to see all the empty space forming in the crown from the factory floor," Ackerman said. "It started to sink in how much space is really up there that can be developed."

The 777 program team opened up space in the airplane crown by relocating systems such as wires, tubes and ducts from the center to the sides of the crown, and creating a novel structure to support the crew rests. They redesigned some systems to accommodate the location change. The original intention was to carve out more space than was needed for crew rests to create room for future features and after-market options.

Overhead crew-rest alternatives include a two-member flight-crew rest compartment for off-duty pilots, a six- or seven-bunk attendant rest for the 777-200 Extended Range and 777-200 Longer Range, and a six- to 10-bunk attendant rest station for the 777-300ER.

"By utilizing the overhead space for crew rests, the 777-200ER and 777-200LR can save up to four passenger seats and four cargo containers, and the 777-300ER saves up to seven seats and six cargo containers," Ackerman said. "This frees up seat and cargo space and results in greater revenue potential for our customers."

Boeing estimates that the crew rests could generate between $7 and $9.5 million over 20 years for an airline.

Making space work

In addition to overhead crew rests, the 777 program, the Payloads Concept Center and Product Development are working on several other ideas.

"We're always asking ourselves how we can take advantage of the space available," Ackerman said. "For instance, there's extra space around the airplane door during flight. How about adding a snack bar or attendant station in this area during flight? While providing a service to customers, the space also gives passengers an area to walk around in and stretch their legs."

sleeping quartersMore overhead space in the Boeing 747 could accommodate a business center on the upper deck, with laptop, phone and Internet connections, and a three- to four-person meeting room, or "sky suite." This space also could be used for sleeping quarters that passengers could purchase on extended flights. Additional galley storage is another option.

In the Boeing 777, a retractable closet has been designed that could store crew luggage in the crown.

"Picture a typical flight crew. They each have a least one roll-aboard bag to store on the airplane," Ackerman said. "A retractable closet could store crew luggage while also creating additional space for passenger belongings or seats."

One project gaining public interest is the DreamLav—a space-efficient, onboard restroom that includes a baby-care station. The Payloads Concept Center developed the product and designed it with a family perspective in mind. Boeing featured a full-size prototype of the DreamLav recently at the Aircraft Interiors EXPO in Hamburg, Germany.

"The DreamLav was displayed at the EXPO—just like a futuristic concepts car would be displayed at the Detroit Auto Show—as what it might look like based on the premise of the future," Anderson said.

The DreamLav provides space to accommodate a parent with a child, and features amenities such as a retractable baby changing table, a three-way mirror, fresh air flow, music and a self-cleaning toilet seat.

"Its environment promotes safety, comfort and convenience," Anderson said. "Several features can be operated by one hand, like the double door or extractable countertop, or hands-free, like the faucet and soap dispenser."

What customers want

In today's challenging business environment, the need for customers to differentiate themselves from their competition while operating as efficiently as possible has become more important than ever. Similarly, the interest in the 7E7 has given product-development work an emergent role, placing innovation and creativity in the spotlight.

"The 7E7 program has given our projects more immediate attention and focus," Anderson said. "Our leadership strongly encourages and supports our efforts on futuristic products and features for the new airplane as well as building upon existing models in the fleet."

Boeing teams looking at creative space options are constantly researching ideas, but their mission is to think about future airplane interiors and what they can do now to meet those demands.


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