RENTON, Wash. -- It's designed as a one stop showroom for how to decorate the interior of a 737, especially the new 737 MAX that's still in development.
Inside the brand new 737 Configuration Studio, airline executives can see different airline seats side by side, look at swatches of fabric under different lighting conditions, visit galleys where food is prepared, and check out the newest line of flight approved espresso makers.
Nobody rides on the outside of a jet, so interiors are everything. But now more than ever interiors are taking on more importance. With the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, interiors have become a huge focus of passenger research. After all, it's the flight that's the calm middle, between the hassle of parking, security lines, long walks and even longer waits.
"If you can get on board, and it feels new, it feels bright and whiter and lighter and more spacious, then it's just that much better for the passengers," said Mark Torretta, 737 configuration engineer. He's been in the interior business for decades.
Boeing may make the planes, but it's other companies that make the seats and interior components. Airlines have a choice, and when passengers on flights ask Torretta about knee room when he travels, he has to remind them it's the airline that makes the call as to how many seats to pack in and how close they are.
Take the 737 sky interior that's been in service for a few years now. Boeing says its research finds that the perception of higher ceilings, bigger overhead stow bins that are more out of the way and soft color changing lighting shows up in passenger surveys about different things. Those passengers said the food was better, the flight attendants more friendly and the plane bigger, even when those factors remained the same as 737s without the interior.
The Dreamliner inspired interiors are spreading to other new planes. For example, Boeing is working on similar upgrades to the new 777X. While that plane is a hybrid between new composite wings much like the 787, the aluminum body will remain, but with a few changes of its own. The company saying they're trying to make the ribs part of the plane's internal structure, thinner and the cabin a little bit wider, without compromising structural integrity.