Boeing engineer: Plastics to play key role in improved aircraft interiors

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 1, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Thermoforming, Design

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (Oct. 1, 1:30 p.m. ET) — Commercial airline passengers will be in for a treat when they fly, as Boeing engineer Jim Griffing described sleek plane interiors with smooth, rounded lines and mellow lighting, speaking at the SPE Thermoforming Conference.

He showed images of the designs for a cabin of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, sporting larger overhead storage bins and smooth, curving lines outlined with sleek lighting.

Thermoforming already plays a major role in sidewall panels and other parts, said Griffing, a 25-year Boeing veteran. One of his first projects at there was to analyze thermoformed parts for meeting fire requirements.

Boeing has one thermoforming machine to make spare parts, and outsources the rest, he said.

Griffing is the current president of the Society of Plastics Engineers.

Boeing wants to improve the flying experience—and not just with more overhead storage space, to speed passenger loading and unloading. Passengers will notice right when they enter the plane. Right now, you have to squeeze past the crowded food and beverage area. But on new planes, the service counter will be set apart, in a restaurant-style island.

Griffing said that lighting will change dramatically. The trend, he said, is to use lighter, white surface colors on the ceiling, and use blue lights, or other colors to set the mood overhead. The effects can be changed on long flights to offset jet lag, he said.

“Our designers are really driving toward that white-white color,” he said.

Airline designers would love to have translucent ceilings and luggage compartments, he said, but added that the materials will have to meet fire and heat release standards. Griffing said some suppliers are working on that application.

Another wish-list feature for airline interiors: sidewall panels that incorporate the sound-deadening insulation right inside the panel. Currently, the installation is installed first, covering wiring, then the thermoformed panel goes on top. That makes it hard to get access to the wiring for maintenance and to fix problems, often requiring crews to remove seats, he said.

“We’d love to be able to snap these in and out,” Griffing said.

He said first-class seats are a good opportunity for thermoforming, since airlines design special marketing there. Thermoforming also plays a key role in flight deck components, a critical area but one with low volumes. Griffing called flight decks “a great opportunity for thermoforming.”


Comments

Boeing engineer: Plastics to play key role in improved aircraft interiors

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 1, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Automakers look under the hood for the next lightweighting opportunities

August 20, 2014 1:06 pm ET

The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.    More

Image

Faerch Plast doubling capacity in UK

August 20, 2014 9:42 am ET

R. Faerch Plast A/S, one of Europe’s leading producers of plastic containers for the food industry, is set to double production...    More

Image

ISO publishes international standard for measuring phthalates in toys

August 19, 2014 10:40 am ET

The Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published an international standard on phthalates used as plasticizers in...    More

Image

RTP expands very long fiber thermoplastic production to Mexico

August 19, 2014 9:47 am ET

RTP Co. has introduced very long fiber reinforced compounds at its Monterrey, Mexico, facility.    More

Image

Ineos takes its first step into UK shale exploration

August 18, 2014 1:15 pm ET

Ineos Group AG has moved into United Kingdom shale exploration with the purchase of BG Group’s 51 percent share of the shale section of a joint ...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events