SATS Simulated Aircraft Cabin

Hyperbaric Chamber Created to Improve Aeroplane Food

Project:  SATS Simulated Aircraft Cabin

Features: In 2000, Vipac was commissioned by SATS to design, supply and install the #1 Simulated Aircraft Cabin

Challenge: People’s subjective judgement of the taste of food really does change when on board an aircraft. This is due to the acid balance in the blood changing as the pressure and the oxygen saturation changes. So for the meals to taste ‘correct’ and as intended, the chefs re-adjust the balance and the strengths of the flavours in the served meals, with the first and second flight meals each requiring different treatments. To be able to test people’s assessments of the meals without actually flying, and to allow the chefs access to the testing, Vipac designed, supplied and installed a self-contained room where 12 people could be subjected to decreased air pressure, simulating altitude. The cabin simulated the meal-prep in a flight galley, and also simulated the passenger dining experience.

Vipac’s Role: Vipac was the main contractor along with sub-contractor, Fink Engineering, for the design, fabrication, installation, commissioning and training. Attributes covered were pressure vessel design, safety, access, communications, acoustics, aircraft and ground power, atmospheric conditioning, including de-humidification, pressure control simulating flight, as well as required personnel safety and training. The end result could be described as a hyperbaric chamber.

Benefits:  New and modified flight menus and dishes are trialled and tested for their on-ground kitchen cooking, their on-board galley preparation, and their presentation to passengers, especially those in F and J. This simulated cabin and galley allows testing to be simulated as being “at altitude” when in fact it is on the ground. People’s taste perceptions can immediately be tested, and the operations and practices tuned to optimise the in-flight experience.