The COMFort in the cabin DEMOnstrator (COMFDEMO) project aims at understanding and optimizing the comfort perception of aircraft passengers in short-range flights.

In this project, a demonstrator of an aircraft interior is made in which experiments can be done with with people to investigate comfort perception. The demonstrator will be able to simulate turboprop airplanes, which have additional complexity due to their unique vibro-acoustic properties.

Worldwide, approximately half of air travel is composed of short-range flights, for which turboprop aircraft are demonstrably better suited. They produce less CO2 emissions and are more efficient than jet aircraft. However, cabin noise and vibration is relatively higher in comparison to jet aircraft, lowering the perception of comfort and predisposing passengers to choose jet aircraft.

While applicable to all airplanes, the goal is to study noise and vibration of turboprops, which requires installing equipment like speakers and vibration actuators under seats. By studying comfort-influencing factors on passengers, various aircraft interiors can be tested before the real plane is built, and aspects influencing comfort can be optimized.

What are we going to do?

A demonstrator is built in which passengers experience an aircraft interior in which various parameters influencing comfort can be varied to study improvements to the overall in-flight comfort. An initial comfort model is made based on the literature and then updated based on real flights. In these flights, participants complete questionnaires and wear a jacket, which will record data on sound, vibration, temperature, and pressure. The questionnaires contain questions on the perception of 1) physical ergonomics; 2) vibration; 3) acoustics; 4) spatial-psychological; 5) visual-light; 6) air quality; 7) smell; 8) temperature; and 9) temporal (time) requirements and related comfort sensation. In addition, some environmental conditions and psychophysiological reactions will be monitored. A protocol is made to study passengers in the demonstrator, aiming to solve the comfort issue.

Turboprop aircrafts are one of the most energy efficient travelling methods

This demonstrator will help aircraft and cabin interior manufacturers in designing more comfort cabin and functional interiors, which may attract more passengers and promote the usage of turboprops. Replacing jets by turboprops reduces greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution for residents, which contributes significantly to sustainability commitments.

Some of the researchers and crew participating in the test flight of November 3rd 2021

Participants ready for boarding in the ATR72 at Rotterdam Airport for the test flight of November 3rd 2021