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Airplanes may soon install sleeping compartments in the cargo area

Airplanes may soon install sleeping compartments in the cargo area
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace have teamed up to develop sleeping berths that would fit into the cargo hold of commercial planes. The berths will be ready by 2020, the companies say. (Airbus)

Sleeping berths, like those you might find on a train car, may soon be installed on commercial aircraft.

European aircraft builder Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace, one of the world's largest manufacturers of cabin interiors, have teamed up to develop and market passenger sleeping berths on planes. The catch: The compartments will be in the cargo holds of the planes.

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The companies announced the partnership last week during an annual airline interior exposition in Germany. They say the first sleeper berths will be available by 2020 for the A330 planes, the wide-body aircraft that can carry up to 335 passengers.

The sleeper berths will be built into modules that can be swapped out for regular cargo containers that normally fit into the area beneath the passenger cabin, according to a press release issued by the companies.

"This approach to commercial air travel is a step change towards passenger comfort," Geoff Pinner, head of Airbus cabin and cargo programs, said in a statement. "We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups."

This is not a completely new idea: Airbus and Zodiac have already produced cargo-hold sleeping compartments for pilots and flight attendants on long-haul flights.

More than 1,300 A330 planes are in use on mid- to long-range routes by commercial airlines, including American, Delta, Korean Air and Lufthansa.

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