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Pan Am's Historic Contributions to Aircraft Cabin Design

Scholz, Dieter

The report summarizes groundbreaking aircraft cabin developments at Pan American World Airways (Pan Am). The founder and chief executive Juan Terry Trippe (1899-1981) established Pan Am as the world's first truly global airline. With Trippe's determination, foresight, and strategic brilliance the company accomplished many pioneering firsts – many also in aircraft cabin design. In 1933 Pan Am approached the industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958). The idea was to create the interior design of the Martin M-130 flying boat by a specialized design firm. Noise absorption was optimized. Fresh air was brought to an agreeable temperature before it was pumped into the aircraft. Adjustable curtains at the windows made it possible to regulate the amount of light in the compartments. A compact galley was designed. The cabin layout optimized seating comfort and facilitated conversion to the night setting. The pre-war interior design of the Boeing 314 flying boat featured modern contours and colors. Meals were still prepared before flight and kept warm in the plane's galley. The innovative post-war land based Boeing 377 Stratocruiser had a pressurized cabin. The cabin was not divided anymore into compartments. Seats were reclining. The galley was well equipped. The jet age started at Pan Am with the DC-8 and the B707. The B707 featured individual overhead "service clusters" with reading light, air outlet, and stewardess call button. The aircraft had no night time settings anymore. Inflight entertainment (video and music) was introduced. Early jets had hatracks. Overhead bins were introduced on the B747.

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  • HÜHNE, Mathias C. (2016). Pan Am: History, Design & Identity. Berlin : Callisto Publishers. – ISBN 978-3-9816550-6-3, URL: https://www.callisto-publishers.com/en/pan-am
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