UK design takes on superjumbo

Product design group Priestman Goode is creating a full-sized mock-up of the first class areas of the Airbus Industrie superjumbo, A3XX. The London consultancy is one of a team of international consultants working on the A3XX project, which also includes UK consultancies Ideo and Design Acumen.

Priestman Goode director Paul Priestman describes the three-deck plane as “awesome – like a liner”. The consultancy is creating “every square millimetre of the first class interior”, including seats and bars. Its transport design portfolio includes work for Virgin Atlantic, alongside Pentagram partner and architect Lorenzo Apicella.

Bob Lange, A3XX marketing director within the large aircraft division at Airbus, stresses that the project is still at the early concept stage. While some concepts may be revealed at the Farnborough Air Show on 24 July, test flights are not expected until 2004, with the first commercial flight in late 2005. “It is a continuous process for us,” he says.

Lange refutes speculation that elements of the design have gone out to competition. “We haven’t held a competition and we aren’t planning one for a project of this magnitude,” he says.

He adds that the Toulouse-based company has “cast the net very widely” and concepts of “considerable merit” have emerged from design groups across three continents – Europe, the US and South East Asia. But, because of the constraints of designing for aircraft, these concepts “and their authors” will be integrated into the usual cabin design process.

He will not be drawn on details of each group’s involvement, but confirms that Priestman Goode’s brief is not soley for first class. Design Acumen, he says, “is not doing seats”, despite its award-winning expertise in this area. He adds Italian design star Giorgetto Giugiaro to the list of those involved, but won’t name others.

The A3XX will be the world’s largest civil aircraft, capable of seating 480 to 650 passengers, depending on which one of three fuselage lengths is specified.

Shareholders in the £7bn-plus development are European Aeronautic, Defence and Space – a consortium comprising German company DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, France’s Aerospatiale Matra, Casa of Spain – which owns 80 per cent, and the UK’s BAe Systems, with 20 per cent.

The name A3XX is the “project designation”, says Lange. Airbus’s in-house branding and identity group will handle the branding, having produced identities for airlines such as Sabeina and Egypt Air, among others, in the past.

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