If you are old enough to remember when the spacious, bright and modern cabin on the Bombardier C Series (now Airbus A220) was part of the drivers for the European airframer to upgrade its narrowbody cabins with the Airspace brand, your author invites you to sit down on the proverbial porch rocking chair and contemplate the new A220 Airspace cabins.
The primary change to the A220 is overhead, with the sweeping upwards curved pivot bins of the C Series (which is how we’ll refer to the current cabin) giving way to a large flip-up bin along the lines of that used for the A320neo Airspace cabin. Demonstrated at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in June, the overall A220 Airspace aesthetic, in essence, “Airbusifies” the cabin, bringing it in line — in look and feel (and bag space) — with the rest of the Airbus narrowbodies on the market.
The new bins, to be manufactured by Diehl Aviation, are officially called the Airspace XL Bin for the A220. They’re lighter by some 300lbs (nearly 140kg) than what they replace, differently shaped, and change the frame structure to a four-frame design.
“You have more space in here — twenty percent more space,” Airbus vice president of cabin marketing Ingo Wuggetzer tells Runway Girl Network. “It’s easier to handle, especially for crew. That was always our feedback: that the crew has issues to always close that [bin] if you have a lot of cycles. That’s why this solution is easier, lighter, [with] more volume.”
The new bins increase capacity by up to 19 large pieces of hand luggage, and indeed the new Airspace XL Bins can themselves accommodate larger hand luggage end-in compared with the C Series bins. Airbus also says they are more reliable, lighter weight, and easier to use for passengers — and crew, from whom Wuggetzer says there have been complaints when it comes to closing the pivot bins when full of luggage.
Moving the A220 cabin to flip-up bins, Wuggetzer says, “we optimised that in terms of volume, and integrated that in, of course, the geometry of the A220.”
Linefit starts in 2025, while the transition and cutover from the old bins to the new bins, and how that transition proceeds, depends on airlines’ decisions, but Wuggetzer says that “usually that takes two to three years”.
A key question for Airbus — and indeed for airlines — is how the shape of the A220 Airspace bins proves to be visually and functionally pleasing or effective compared with the C Series versions. Sitting in the aisle seat of the two-seat side of the aircraft, it felt like the overhang was quite substantially off to the right-hand side of the passenger, which added some privacy but was a little unwieldy as a taller (6’3”, 190cm) passenger.
On the three-seat side, meanwhile, the low-hanging bin edge ended roughly halfway over your author’s head, and not especially far away. This was quite the unusual feeling, and one that felt a little disconcerting in a way — half covered by the bin, half not.
We will, perhaps, have to wait for a full-cabin mockup and not just a four-row stand experience, for a final judgment on this one.
“Feedback so far was very positive”, Wuggetzer reports, while he also had good news for passengers concerned about the highly comfortable five-abreast A220 cabin turning into a very tight six-abreast cabin, along the lines of what happened with the BAe 146/Avro RJ-85.
“I’ve not even thought about it,” quipping that “maybe you’ve inspired me!”, but noting that this is a “solution that is based on five-abreast”.
The A220 Airspace cabin also comes with a redesigned ceiling with an optional new LED light under the bins, as well as a new passenger service unit that is manufactured by Astronics.
All the fundamental intellectual property involved throughout the A220 Airspace project, Wuggetzer says, belongs to Airbus.
- How Diehl and HAECO have reimagined the single-aisle premium cabin
- Hands-on with Boeing 777X’s wider cabin, big bins, new lighting
- The evolving drivers of LED cabin lighting, now and in the future
- Airbus develops “light-refit” larger overhead bins for A320 family
- Interiors suppliers trumpet work on new A320 Airspace brand cabins
All images credited to John Walton