Diehl Aviation is developing an innovative way to replace conventional loudspeakers in the passenger cabin, using the lower panel of the overhead baggage compartment as a membrane.

An exciter transmits vibration to the panel. Diehl claims sound quality is higher than with conventional membrane speakers, especially for voice transmission.

“The exciter technology of the new panel loudspeakers uses the surface of the selected components to disperse sound in order to impress across the entire bandwidth,” project promoters said.

Installation can be made without cutouts on cabin elements. In addition to being invisible for improved cabin design, the panel loudspeaker is said to be lighter than its conventional counterpart. It is also inherent cleaner than a loudspeaker grid, which tend to retain dust, CCO Harald Mehring said.

Accompanying the new-generation loudspeaker, the flexible passenger service unit (PSU) includes light and flight attendant call push-buttons, as well as the air outlet. The FlexPSU features a rail-based assembly and connection design. No discrete wiring is required as the rail is used as a power line. Therefore, reconfiguring the PSUs to go along with a seat pitch change in the cabin is easy, Mehring said.

An LCD monitor can be added to provide the passenger with personalized information, such as the gate for a connecting flight.

For the lavatory, Diehl is offering sensors to ensure touchless operation of the door, seat, lid, flush and faucet for improved hygiene.

The company is also proposing voice control. Following the example of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, Diehl has named the assistant “Flips.” Therefore, the passenger has to start each command with “Hey, Flips!,” such as in “Hey Flips, open the seat!”

As sensor-based and voice-controlled operations are relatively slow, the automated functions of the lavatory can be overridden manually in case of urgent need, Mehring said.

Thierry Dubois, thierry.dubois@aviationweek.com