There’s also conference room, medical center, lounge, and family room modules that can quickly be switched out.
Running an airline is an expensive business, mainly due to the cost of fuel. But the major airlines have faced growing pressure on their profit margins from budget competitors. Airbus has decided to react to that by offering something a bit different.
Through a partnership with Zodiac Aerospace, Airbus is designing passenger sleeping berths which will be fitted inside the cargo hold of an A330. So where there was once luggage in the bottom of the aircraft there will now be a number of bedrooms.
They won’t be permanent additions, though. Airbus and Zodiac are designing the berths to be modular and easy to remove in case more cargo space is required for a flight.
In the concept images shared by Airbus, two types of module are planned offering five configurations. As well as sleeping areas, Airbus will offer a lounge, conference, medical center, and kids and family room options. All of them can be fitted within the A330 cargo hold without impacting the standard seating area already present in the upper half of the aircraft.
The A330 is capable of carrying up to 335 passengers and 70 tonnes of cargo in its typical configuration. The new modular version is expected to be certified by 2020. Airbus is also considering the same cargo modules for use in the A350 XWB, which can carry up to 366 passengers currently.
As they are fitted to the lower section of the aircraft there won’t be any windows to look out of, but Airbus could add fake windows with some well-placed displays. For long haul flights the prospect of having a room to relax in is going to be highly desirable, suggesting this will be a first class option with a high price tag attached to it. The very wealthy may even decide to book all available modules and use them like an apartment in the sky.