Airbus Imagines Planes of the Future Will Be Modular

airbus a3 modular plane concept
Airbus's modular plane concept allows portions of the cabin to be swapped. Airbus A3

A radical new concept for modular airplane cabins has been developed by aircraft manufacturer Airbus that could see swappable interiors introduced to commercial passenger planes.

Airbus's Transpose concept could see gyms, coffee shops, spas and playgrounds switch in and out of planes depending on the needs of passengers "within a few years."

In a blog post introducing the Transpose concept, Airbus executive Jason Chua said: "Why, despite incredible overall advances in commercial aircraft, do most cabins fundamentally look the same as they did when air travel started a century ago—seats arranged in forward facing rows?"

Chua explained that rearranging aircraft cabin layouts has become increasingly difficult due to the way in which the manufacturing process of cabins is highly integrated with other systems onboard.

"So in order to create new passenger experience possibilities, we must first work to simplify the process of customizing aircraft cabins," Chua said.

"We're doing this with the development of a modular aircraft cabin, and by giving the ecosystem of airlines, manufacturers, passengers and regulators the tools to rapidly bring more diverse experiences to market."

Modularity in passenger aircraft has been explored in the past but never taken off as the designs have usually required new kinds of planes to be built or a fundamental redesign of airport infrastructure.

By taking an "ecosystem" approach to the challenge, Chua claims Transpose is both "achievable and pragmatic."

Airbus is calling for other airlines, manufacturers and brands to collaborate with the Transpose concept, hoping such partnerships will make this bespoke functionality cost effective and available for all passengers, even those in economy class.