Boeing teams work with airline customers to develop new ‘Space Bins’ for the 737 By Dina Weiss and photo by Bob Ferguson Frontiers September 2014 15 Brent Walton was about to board a flight from Seattle to Orlando, Fla., when he was told he’d have to check his carry-on bag at the gate. “There’s nothing more frustrating than being one of the last to get on the plane and being told you have to check your bag, because all of the bins are full,” said Walton, a manager of new features for 737 interiors in Renton, Wash. Walton knew there was a solution in sight, however, because he and his team were developing it. With input from Alaska Airlines, they were moving quickly to design an innovative stowage bin so large it was dubbed the Space Bin. “We recognized a shift in the market, with growing interest in a larger bin option, both in production as well as retrofit,” Walton said. To develop the Space Bins, Commercial Airplanes invited flight attendants, customer service agents and others to visit Boeing’s design center, test prototypes and provide feedback to the Boeing team. That team included 737 design engineers, Commercial Aviation Services modifications representatives, product marketing and new features experts, as well as engineers from the Interiors Responsibility Center and the Payload Innovation Center. “The collaboration across the teams has been impressive,” said Jeri Imhof, project manager for the 737 Interiors New Features team. Mark Eliasen, Alaska Airlines treasurer and vice president of finance, said he told Boeing sales executives, “If you build it, we’ll buy it and we’re confident other airlines will, too. That’s how committed we were to working with Boeing to create additional storage space for our passengers.” While other airlines have not yet signed up for the bins, they have expressed strong interest, and their requirements helped shape the design, Walton said. On a 737-900ER (Extended Range), the new bins will allow overhead compartments to accommodate 194 bags, compared with the current 132 bags. When the Space Bins are open, the bottom edge hangs about 2 inches (5 centimeters) lower than today’s bin, which not only makes it easier for passengers to load bags but should speed up boarding, Matthew Coder, manager of in-flight experience at Alaska Airlines, pointed out. Throughout design development, the team was able to increase bin space while also maintaining the open look and feel of the cabin, Imhof said. Adding to the customers’ list of must-haves was the requirement for a single design that would work for both newly produced 737s and for 737s already in service as a retrofit. Design workshops and an on-site mock-up have helped to keep the Space Bins project on track. “Being able to quickly try out our designs was great,” said Asim Chadha, lead design engineer for stow bins at the Interiors Responsibility Center. “Loading the bins with extra bags and testing how easy they were to close—the mock-up made it all real and we could see that they work,” Chadha said. Passengers will get to experience the real thing when Space Bins are introduced on new Alaska 737s next year. n email@example.com PHOTO: Checking out the new Space Bins are Asim Chadha (foreground, from left), lead engineer, Interiors Responsibility Center, and Brent Walton, manager, 737 Interiors New Features, along with Derek Minyard (background, from left), Stowbin lead engineer, and Jeri Imhof, project manager, 737 Interiors New Features.
Frontiers September 2014 Issue
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