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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Helicopter Makers Offer New Luxury Interiors

AgustaWestland, Airbus and Bell bring fresh concepts to the high-end VVIP market.

By Thierry Dubois, on Twitter: @aerodub

Three helicopter manufacturers have recently introduced new luxury interiors. Bell Helicopter is offering a VVIP cabin designed by Mecaer Aviation Group on the Bell 429 light twin, AgustaWestland is studying a “cocoon seat” concept for the AW169 medium twin and Airbus Helicopters has added customization options to the EC135 Hermes.

AgustaWestland has tapped designer Francesca Lanzavecchia to create a new kind of interior for the in development AW169. “The idea is to translate the notions of safety, speed and high technology into the cabin,” she explained.

 

AgustaWestland is mulling cocoon seats for the AW169’s interior. Photos by Thierry Dubois

 

Hence the idea of a cocoon seat. AgustaWestland designed the seat to be “inhabited,” as Lanzavecchia put it – the passenger will have a table, plugs, light etc., within reach. But the shell is translucent, thus reaching a tradeoff between privacy and interaction with other passengers. Before a flight, the seats can be positioned in a conventional club configuration or slightly swiveled toward the windows.

An AW169 could be equipped with four or five of these seats in a cabin sporting earth tones. The designer also suggests the use of chromotherapy lighting to improve passenger well-being. “We are at the assessment stage before offering such an interior to our customers,” an AgustaWestland spokesman reports.

Mecaer Aviation Group also found inspiration in Italy – the VVIP MAGnificent interior it is offering on the Bell 429 light twin was designed and is manufactured in Rome, Grayson Barrows, Mecaer’s director, marketing and sales, cabin comfort systems, said. It is available in four-, five- and six-seat layouts.

 

Mecaer Aviation Group has designed a four-seat VVIP cabin for the Bell 429.

 

A key feature is quietness, he went on, both thanks to a noise abatement system and the interior’s structural design. “It is a capsule, attached to the airframe at four points,” Barrows explained. This minimizes sound propagation from the doors and gearboxes. Passengers can thus travel without headsets, according to Mecaer. Other features include an iOS/Android app for in-flight entertainment and communications control, as well as electro-chromic windows.

The company is aiming at the end of the year for receiving an STC. “We are looking for a launch customer,” Barrows said.

On the rival EC135, Airbus is offering additional personalization to the original Hermes definition that was introduced in 2007, to be applied to the upgraded EC135 T3/P3 light twin. Each customer will be able to define a unique helicopter, Hermes bringing its particular materials and refinement, according to the company. Said Olivier Lambert, Airbus Helicopters’ senior vice president for sales and customer relations, “it enables them to work directly with creative design teams at Hermes for such aspects as color harmonies, upholstery variants and other elements that best suit their tastes and requirements.”

 

Airbus Helicopters is carrying on with Hermes as a partner on the EC135's luxury version.

Related: Corporate/VIP News

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