Observation of the flight attendants

During the research flight on November 3, an observation of the flight attendants was also made during each flight. During data collection, the focus was on:

  1. Ergonomics: Working heights in the galleys, pushing/pulling forces in the galley and from the trolleys, trolley maneuvering.
  2. Environmental aspects: temperature, vibration and noise.

We have learned very much from this observation. Respect for the work these two flight attendants do. Working together in a very small space and being so friendly and helpful to the passengers. We will share the results with you later.

Nov 3: Real-flight study

In the EU COMFDEMO project, we aim at building the digital twin regarding the comfort experience of passengers in the cabin demonstrator. For this, we will conduct a study during a real-flight to collect data on the comfort of passengers. This happend on Nov.3, 2021. We had a super good research day! All researchers were present and a total of almost 100 participants. All participants had an air travel for 70 minutes whereby data was collected regarding the basic anthropometry and their experience on comfort. The flight was from and to Rotterdam airport.

The aircraft used during the flight

June 22nd: pilot-study

On June 22nd we conducted the pilot-study in our simulator to prepare for the real test in November. During the pilot-study we tested the procedure and looked for ways we can optimize it. Moreover, we did some final test with the comfort-jacket. An impression of the day can be seen via the video below.

Effect of scent on comfort of aircraft passengers

The smell of mandarin influences aircraft comfort

Smell could influence the perceived comfort/discomfort of aircraft passengers over time, and different types of smells have different effects on passengers. The preferences on scents are diverse, which highlights the need for personalization in aircraft cabin design.

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Workshop IQPC

Köln, Februari 19th 2020

The COMFDEMO project has been going on for a couple of months now. One of the project goals is to share the results on a regular basis. One channel we use to share our results are workshops. Simultaneously workshops are a great way to get feedback and insights from the others. Therefore, Dr. Vink  facilitated a workshop during the IQPC Köln on the 19th of February.  

Participants attending this workshop were specialists in the field of seat design. Dr. Vink started off with a short presentation about our recent insight in the factors influencing in-flight comfort. The factors we have defined can be grouped in two categories. The categories are: 1. Seats (Dimensions, Colour, Stiffness, Inclination) and 2. Environment (Vibration, sound/noise, temperature, odor/smell, CO2, light) 

Next, three groups were created and asked to discuss the aforementioned factors influencing in-flight comfort. Moreover, the groups were asked to link the factors to seating comfort of self-driving cars. Specifically, they were asked to discuss what should be altered in these interiors to optimize the defined factors for self-driving cars. Finally, they were asked to select a top-3 most important and least important factors.

The results

Group 1 selected from the seat as most important: inclination, stiffness and motion comfort (preventing movements that restrict tasks). For the environment this group selected noise, smell and functional interior. The latter means that it should facilitate activities. 

Group 2 selected a top four for the seat: dimensions, color, stiffness (of the cushion) and inclination . For the environment they chose: vibration, roominess (of legroom) and microclimate. Microclimate can be defined as the climate around the human body.  

Group 3 selected for a combination of seat/environment: dimensions, temperature and hygiene/cleanliness. The latter was a clean feel and a clean smell. 

Overall, Roominess/dimensions was mentioned by all three groups. Seat Inclination, seat stiffness, Microclimate/Temperature  and Vibration/Motion in two. Other factors were mentioned only once. Thus, we can conclude that the attendees defined the following factors as most important:  

  • Roominess 
  • Seat inclination 
  • Seat stiffness 
  • Vibration 
  • Climate 

The results from this workshop will be used to further improve the research program and the design of COMFDEMO. 

(dis)comfort questionnaires

Many questionnaires

There are many questionnaires on comfort and discomfort each having their own advantages and disadvantages. Also, the application field and the usage in different design stages have influence on the preference for a questionnaire. For instance the selection of a questionnaire in an exploration phase, where humans have much time to think about options might differ from the one which has to be completed every 10 minutes in a specific testing situation.

Experts’ opinion

In a recent study, 55 experts that visited the International Comfort Conference in 2019 gave their opinion on (dis)comfort questionnaires that are mentioned in the scientific literature. The paper is accepted for publication the journal Work and has the title PCQ: Preferred Comfort Questionnaires for Product/Service Design. The authors are: S Anjani, M Kühne, A Naddeo, S Frohriep, N Mansfield, Y Song and P Vink. In this new paper, we highlight some major outcomes related to (dis)comfort in seat studies and the total environment, though the research covers more application fields such as hand/tool handle design and feet leg studies.

Seat comfort

The most useful questionnaires for seat studies in the early design phase seems to be the seat elements questionnaire published by Van Veen et al (2015). 55% of the 55 experts were in favour of this questionnaire. It consists of 11 questions.  For studying prototypes two questionnaires were suitable. The two that were mentioned most are: the postural comfort method by Corlett & Bishop (1976) (55% favoured for this one) and again the method of Van Veen et al (2015) (64%). For comparing two products both the Corlett & Bishop (1976) and Van Veen questionnaire were favoured, but another one was added: The Mansfied two-stage method described by Sammonds et al. (2017). For evaluating an end product the Van Veen et al (2015) and Sammonds et al. (2017) method were again chosen.

The Van Veen et al. (2015) questionnaire used a 9-point Likert scale for the answers and the 11 questions are:
1.How much would you like to have this seat?
2. How do you assess the comfort of this seat?
3. How do you evaluate the overall comfort of the backrest?
4. How do you evaluate the overall comfort of the seat pan?
5. Does this seat assist your physical well-being?
6. How do you like the mobility of the seat pan?
7. How do you like the mobility of the backrest?
8. How do you like the overall mobility of the seat?
9. How do you like the support of the seat pan?
10. How do you like the support of the backrest?
11. How do you like the overall support of the seat?

In the Corlett & Bishop (1976) questionnaire the participant has to rate discomfort in different body parts at the following body map:

Some authors use a scale for different levels of discomfort per body part.

The Sammonds et al. (2017) questionnaire consists of two stages (see figure below). First the scores for the body parts have to made and then the overall discomfort has to be scored.

Environmental comfort

The most useful questionnaires for environmental comfort in the early design phase could not clearly be defined. All scores were below 50%. Perhaps this might not be so relevant as for various environmental factors guidelines are available. For studying prototype environments, comparing two environments and evaluating environments the Multi factorial methods – cross modal matching ISO 20882 was favoured by 64% of the 55 experts.  This method is not freely available and can be bought from International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Two methods also mentioned for all situations are the ‘simple comfort score’ (used for instance by De Lille, et al, 2016) and the method to measure auditory comfort of Fields et al. (2001).

The method of Fields et al. (2001) is specific for one aspect of the environment and is well described in this paper. The method of the Lille et al (2016) is asking participants to rate their comfort on a scale from 1-10. (1=no comfort at all and 10=extreme comfort). She asked that several times during the flight and could see the pattern in different phases of the flight.