* One of world's most annoying buttons to be phased out
* Will reduce passengers' embarrassment, attendants' fatigue
* New 737 interior design in line with newer Boeing models
By Geert De Clercq
LE BOURGET, France, June 21 (Reuters Life!) - In the long
history of bad industrial design, the flight attendant call
button on commercial airlines takes a prominent place.
Usually located next to the reading light button and often
indistinguishable from it, the dreaded button causes flight
attendants to make countless pointless trips down the aisles
every day, only to hear embarrassed passengers say they were
just trying to switch on the light.
Not for much longer.
The new interior design for Boeing's 737 passenger jet, the
best-selling plane in aviation history, includes an innovation
that is as radical as it is obvious: a flight attendant button
that is situated well away from the reading light button and
actually looks different from it.
"I feel we came up with a really good improvement," Beverly
Wyse, Boeing's General Manager for the 737 programme, told
reporters at the Paris Air Show.
The new 737 "Sky Interior" brings design elements from
future Boeing planes such as the 787 Dreamliner and the new
747-8 stretch jumbo to the slowly ageing 737.
Besides an identifiable call button and a slightly plusher
finishing, the new interior features sophisticated LED lighting
and new luggage bins that leave enough headspace for a tall
person to stand up in the seats next to the aisle.
Wyse said that 83 percent of the airlines in Boeing's long
order book for the 737 opt for the new interior.
Cabin crew will feel the difference in their feet.
"On every flight somebody pushes the wrong button. It is an
issue for flight attendants," said Tim Techt, Technical Pilot
for airberlin, the first airline to take delivery of 737s with
the new cabin design.
The new interior of the 737 is the result of extensive
research, which has shown, among other things, that many
passengers avoid turning on the reading light for fear of
accidentally calling the flight attendant, Boeing Director of
Differentiation Blake Emery told Reuters from Seattle.
Could earlier engineers not have imagined a more intuitive
position for the call button, which has stumped generations of
passengers and earned its own entry on baddesigns.com?
"I can't help but agree that it is not like we needed
extensive research to figure that one out," Emery said.