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innovative Systems for Personalised Aircraft Cabin Environment

Tags: Air

State of the Art - Background

The traditional air conditioning system of current aircraft is designed mainly on compartments, such as cabin areas, flight deck or cargo. Only a few components are customised to provide personalised control, such as individual air outlets in the optional overhead personal service units.

Currently the cabin air temperature is controlled 'globally' by the environmental control system with the cabin separated into several temperature zones, dependent on the heat load within the different zones. A single zone covers 10 to 100 passengers and thus all of them are exposed to about the same temperature.

An individual cabin air temperature control for each passenger has not been realised so far. The provision of such personalised controls is expected to lower the percentage of dissatisfied occupants by up to 10% in the optimum case. Cabin surfaces such as the seat, lining and floor influence the thermal comfort of passengers. Currently these cabin surfaces are neither thermally controlled nor equipped to achieve a desirably low temperature asymmetry.

Cabin air is generally dryer than air normally experienced on ground. Dry cabin air (about 15% relative humidity) may lead to passenger discomfort but the impact of low humidity levels on the human body has not yet been fully investigated. Furthermore the number of air purification systems available for aircraft is limited.


The primary objective of iSPACE is to provide a step change in passenger comfort during flight by providing aircraft manufacturers and the supplier industry with the knowledge and innovations needed to address the individualisation of a passenger's cabin environment.

This will be achieved by the following scientific and technological objectives:

- develop concepts for an individual passenger cabin environment and prove its general feasibility;

- develop and prove emerging step-change technologies for individualised passenger cabin environments;

- provide simulation tools for individualised cabin environments and give recommendations for existing and future commercial aircraft.

iSPACE will focus on the personal environment of cabin occupants. Concepts and systems will be developed for a revolution of the generation and control of the individual climate. The project intends to close existing technological gaps to achieve an enhanced cabin environment and passenger comfort with regard to temperature, humidity, ventilation and well-being by controlling the individual's climate. Therefore concepts and technologies will be developed and their proof of principle shown by simulation as well as hardware models in a most realistic test environment (including low cabin pressure).

Description of Work

The work within iSPACE is allocated to five technical work packages which raise the current knowledge and demands for technological solutions to a new and innovative level:

1. Compilation of current knowledge and specific requirements for technologies used in aircraft and for their simulation.

2. Selection of suitable technologies for further development, based on a feasibility study and a simulative parameter study; development of a test design to be able to test and evaluate the new concepts for personal climate control and their simulation based on objective measurements and subjects' responses in the Fraunhofer Flight Test Facility.

3. Development of the selected technologies at seat level and their integration into the test bed.

4. Testing and analysis of the selected technologies; optimisation and validation of simulated environments capable of representing the new concepts.

5. Dissemination and exploitation of results and technological solutions; implementations to guarantee consideration of the market requirements and demands.

Expected Results

iSPACE provides major innovations beyond the state of the art in science and technology by:

- gaining knowledge about individual passenger cabin environments and their impact on human perception;

- developing concepts for individual climate control and comfort;

- proving the individualisation of passenger cabin climates in a realistic flight environment;

- developing validated simulation tools for the design of individualised cabin environments;

- developing and evaluating technologies for individualised passenger cabin climates.

Personal environment of a single occupant (top and front view at seat level)
Personal environment of a single occupant (top and front view at seat level)