Introduced in 2007 with the goal of motivating aircraft interiors stakeholders to develop better products and solutions for the advancement of commercial aviation, the annual Crystal Cabin Awards (CCAs) are increasingly viewed as the “Oscars” of the industry.
Hardware is presented each spring in a lavish gala at the posh Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg. The prestigious event always takes place on the evening after Aircraft Interiors Expo’s opening day, and each year’s competition draws more entries than the last.
Simply receiving an invite to the awards gala is seen as an honor, and actually winning is a validation almost beyond compare – say many past winners.
Diehl Aerosystems, a first tier supplier to OEMs, has won its share of CAAs in the past and also had high hopes going into this year’s judging.
Four of Diehl’s units entered products in the contest.
In the CCA’s Passenger Comfort Hardware category, Diehl Comfort Modules submitted its “Lavatory Easy Door”, a folding door concept designed to improve lavatory accessibility (pictured right).
Into the battle for best Passenger Comfort Systems breakthrough went Diehl Aircabin’s “Solatune”, a cabin window shading solution with individual dimming capabilities.
Diehl Aerospace took a crack at the Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment award category with the “Smart Battery Concept” – a modular concept for emergency power supply.
Not to be outdone, Diehl’s newly acquired Aerosol-GWDU unit attempted to bring home some hardware with a galley waste disposal unit that offers increased flushing efficiency.
All four concepts made it onto the judges’ short-list. As a slightly smaller and still family-owned enterprise competing directly for contracts with industry dominators like B/E Aerospace and Zodiac Aerospace, the short-list recognition of four products was in itself a big win for Diehl, even if that’s where the journey ended.
“Having a closer look, we feel that the Smart Battery Concept in particular was a promising contender,” says David Voskuhl, VP communications for Diehl. “The concept is targeted at increasing not only economics and comfort, but also safety, because it will make emergency power supply more independent from other sources on board. Also, looking at the competitors in Passenger Comfort Hardware category, we feel that the Lavatory Easy door actually offers more innovation potential than the other entries.”
It’s perfectly natural to believe that one’s own innovations could have been viewed more favorably by judges, and it is just as understandable to be disappointed at going home empty-handed. But according to Voskuhl, Diehl is not all that distraught. Previous wins (such as the DACAPO galley concept, designed to introduce fuel cell technology to cabin energy supply solutions) are still paying dividends, and he insists there are other ways to benefit from getting involved in the CCAs.
“While winning an award is obviously a prime motivation for us to participate in the CCAs, we also value very much the industry and customer feedback that we get to our technology proposals … The CCAs have become a cornerstone in the annual event calendar for the global aircraft interiors business,” he told RGN.
Unlike its main rivals Diehl is not active in the booming aircraft seating market. The firm, however, is considered a leading supplier in several cabin disciplines like cabin lighting, for example. “If you count out the seat business (which our competitors pursue but we don’t) and really compare ‘apples with apples’, then you won’t find the gap between us and them too big,” says Voskuhl.
The winners of this year’s CCAs will be announced on the evening of 14 April. Despite having four shortlisted entries miss finalist selection, Diehl will be there with bells on.