First programme to launch under the new AIM Altitude brand and AVIC ownership
AIM Altitude has stretched the geographical and engineering boundaries to produce the stunning new Business Class Bar and Lounge for Virgin Australia’s newly refitted Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
With the design and manufacture programme beginning in 2014, the final Door 2 monument design is the result of a successful collaboration between Virgin Australia, AIM Altitude and design house, tangerine.
The design was developed and engineered by AIM Altitude specialists in New Zealand, before AIM Altitude in the UK took up the mantle with manufacturing at its Cabin Interiors facility in Bournemouth. The first of five refurbished Boeing 777-300ER re-entered service between Australia and the United States in May 2016.
The engineering limits were also expanded. Michael Pervan, Managing Director of Altitude, explained: “When Virgin Australia and AIM Altitude first began collaborating on the project, we wanted to stretch the boundaries of what is currently experienced by passengers in the Door 2 zone of a wide-body aircraft. We faced a number of challenges, including finding methods to engineer and manufacture products that used unique lighting and custom trim and finish materials. Like most aircraft interior projects, we were also faced with the challenges of limited real estate in which to create a relaxing and luxurious environment in the Door 2 zone.”
Altitude achieved an outstanding end result, with an impressive Corian backlit bar countertop light box, lighting embedded within Virgin Australia’s Flying Maiden logo and contemporary leaf pattern ceiling as well as bar-edge lighting designs. Ultimately this has created a zone that feels more spacious with a much improved passenger and crew experience.
As part of the design and development programme AIM Altitude follows with all large programmes of this nature, a specialised product development process was implemented at the commencement of the project. Before any detailed design was undertaken, AIM Altitude liaised with many stakeholders of the aircraft Door 2 zone, such as cabin crew and passengers. This consultation ensured a comprehensive understanding of all user requirements.
As the programme developed, full-sized mock ups were created to give stakeholders the opportunity to experience the Door 2 zone in a realistic environment. This process saw several design changes occur which, without mock-up experience, potentially would not have been identified until much further in the programme where additional cost or delays may have been incurred.
In total, AIM Altitude designed five distinct pieces of furniture for the Door 2 area:
- Forward monument – a full-height centre bulkhead with integrated shelves for display of beverage bottles, integrated Nespresso machine and access hatches for the business- class seats forward of the monument
- Bar unit – a mid-height bar unit connected to the forward monument featuring a Corian bench top and illuminated light-box housing, four half-sized carts and a sink and waste compartment;
- Ceiling – a large ceiling panel featuring a Virgin Australia’s signature leaf pattern with embedded lighting
- AFT monument – a full-height centre bulkhead with bank seating and table top to add to the social aspect of the Door 2 zone. This also houses the Flying Maiden The opposite side of the bank seating provides an integrated foot-well for the business-class seats
- Bar stools – four bar stools surround the bar unit allowing passengers to sit at the bar to be served by the Virgin Australia crew. The design of the stools also includes a plinth to cover the stool attachments to the seat tracks
“We are extremely proud of what we have worked with Virgin Australia and tangerine to create,” says Pervan. “There is no doubt that it is a statement on the ‘Art of the Possible’, and we hope that Virgin Australia’s guests enjoy this space as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to life”.