Innovations that change the way we fly recognized in Hamburg

It may not sound like the most exciting event, but the Aircraft Interiors Expo offers travelers a glimpse into the future of flying.

The Crystal Cabin Awards, handed out at the Expo on May 19, recognizes the best innovations from global airlines and design firms that could soon have an impact on our comfort and environmental impact while jetting off around the world.

Among the winners was an invention that could make in-flight lavatories larger, cleaner places from a German company called Dasell Cabin Interior.

The new concept provides a bigger toilet and additional facilities such as a urinal or changing room by using cabin space only needed for boarding - during flight, the standard lavatory can be expanded by the cabin crew and then contracted for landing.

Seattle-based design firm Teague was praised for a new in-flight entertainment seat, which incorporates all of the traditional controls on the seat armrest into a light, power-efficient screen which also boasts a USB port and reading light.

Amongst the entrants from universities, the prize went to a new seat designed by FH Hannover that could soon make life easier for disabled passengers.

The concept Com.pax is a cross between a wheelchair and airplane seat that can be rolled to the check-in counter and used as a wheelchair in the terminal before being locked down in the aircraft during takeoff and landing.

The seat therefore allows the passenger to remain in the same seat for the duration of the airline experience, offering greater comfort for passengers and flexibility for the airline.

In an industry where weight is everything, Canadian company Norduyn won an award for its lighter, greener food trolley, designed to replace the heavy aluminium trolleys currently used by cabin crews.

The company believes that its composite design could make flying even greener, as a single Boeing 747 fully loaded with the Norduyn trolleys would weigh 850 kg less, reducing CO2 emissions by some 13,600 tons over a year.

For seven categories ranging from Passenger Comfort to Industrial Design, Greener Cabin to Entertainment, a total of 64 entries from 13 nations were received by the judging panel, with 21 reaching the final round.

"The final selection was yet again a very close and exciting race," said Christian Koerfgen, head of innovation at German flag-carrier Lufthansa and chairman of the jury.

"We saw compelling, visionary concepts."