When you fly, you know you’re sharing some personal information in order to get onboard. What if as you were riding high at 30,000 feet, information was being gathered about how often you were using the bathroom or how many times you recline your seat?
Airbus is testing sensors right now that gather that type of information so passengers receive the services they want when they fly. The sensors gather the data through an onboard WiFi system and share it with the flight crew. Knowing how many times people use the bathroom can help to keep bathrooms stocked, while knowing how many time seats are being reclined can help to keep them better maintained.
How do These Sensors Work?
Sensors are placed around the aircraft to get different types of information. Airbus spokesperson Martin Fendt, tells Parentology the sensors will be used in several places such as the galleys to let the cabin crew know what food and beverages are stocked in which trolley.
“They will allow the cabin crew to know the cooking status and temperature inside the oven,” Fendt explains. Passengers will also be able to make direct food orders to the galley.
Fendt says the crew will also know what time each passenger placed their order so that those who ordered first get priority.
Additionally, the sensors will help to avoid cabin overstocking as passengers will be able to enter their food preferences when purchasing their ticket. This alleviates airlines being forced to throw away unwanted meals after each flight.
Besides getting your food on time, these sensors also aim to make sure bathrooms have enough supplies by measuring how often the soap, toilet paper, and other supplies need to be restocked.
“Sensors outside the lavatories will allow passengers to know which lavs are free, and which ones have a standing queue outside,” Fendt says.
The sensors will also help passengers know which overhead storage bins are full and which are free. A green light outside the bin will indicate how much space is left.
Will I See These Sensors on My Next Flight?
Airbus is testing the sensors in its Flight Lab, which is an A350 test aircraft fitted with an Airspace Cabin. Fendt tells Parentology flight testing has started. There are plans to demonstrate the technology to the airlines to get further feedback. There’s no word when you might see these sensors on your next flight.
Airplane Sensors & Privacy Issues
When you hear about sensors being placed on airplanes to keep track of things like bathroom supplies and how many times people are hitting the restroom, you may think that it’s an invasion of privacy.
The goal of implementing these sensors is to help the flight crew better serve the passengers and to ensure they’re getting what they need and want on board.
But, Fendt says it’s a widespread misunderstanding that passengers are being tracked. “We’re only bringing into the aircraft the kind of digital interactivity which passengers already expect to have when they are on the ground.”
Airbus Sensors: Sources
Martin Fendt, Airbus Spokesperson