(19)
(11)EP 3 253 622 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
29.04.2020 Bulletin 2020/18

(21)Application number: 15881361.8

(22)Date of filing:  05.02.2015
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B64D 11/00(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2015/014658
(87)International publication number:
WO 2016/126255 (11.08.2016 Gazette  2016/32)

(54)

PASSENGER SERVICE UNIT POD ASSEMBLY

GONDELANORDNUNG FÜR FAHRGASTDIENSTEINHEIT

ENSEMBLE MODULE D'UNITÉ DE SERVICE POUR PASSAGER


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 02.02.2015 US 201514612044

(43)Date of publication of application:
13.12.2017 Bulletin 2017/50

(73)Proprietor: C&D Zodiac, Inc.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • SAVIAN, Scott
    Huntington Beach, CA 92647 (US)

(74)Representative: Stevenson-Hill, Jack Patrick 
Marks & Clerk LLP 1 New York Street
Manchester M1 4HD
Manchester M1 4HD (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 857 314
US-A- 5 651 733
US-A1- 2007 097 681
US-A1- 2013 206 903
WO-A1-2005/007450
US-A- 5 685 637
US-A1- 2008 112 155
US-A1- 2013 206 903
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



    [0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application No. 14/612,044, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Patent Application No. 13/765,646, filed February 12, 2013, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/598,856, filed February 14, 2012, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/598,816, filed February 14, 2012.

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION



    [0002] The present invention relates generally to aircraft passenger service units, and more particularly to a personal service unit pod assembly.

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0003] Commercial aircraft, such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 are typically constructed from modular components, the size, weight and construction of which are dictated by many considerations, including fuselage dimensions, aesthetic and safety considerations. Many of these requirements are imposed by law or regulation. Aircraft components, such as overhead stowage compartments, seats, lavatories, galleys, lighting systems, etc. are all required to function within strictly confined spaces.

    [0004] Manufacturers of aircraft are constantly refining interior aircraft designs to achieve more comfort and utility for passengers and crew within carrier-imposed restraints on cost, weight, maintenance down-time, and safety. Commercial passenger aircraft generally include overhead luggage storage bins mounted from the ceiling, walls or other structural portion of the aircraft over the passenger seats. These bins are designed to accommodate the size, shape, and weight of passenger carry-on luggage.

    [0005] Other overhead storage bin assemblies are well known in the art. For example, see U.S. Patent Publication No. 2011/0253837 published October 20, 2011, U.S. Patent No. 4,637,642 issued on January 20, 1987 and U.S. Patent No. 5,567,028 issued on October 22, 1996. U.S. Patent publication number 2013/0206903 published 15 August, 2013, discloses a pivot bin assembly configured to receive luggage and be positioned in the interior of an aircraft, including an upper housing that includes a strongback and first and second side panels, a bucket that cooperates with the upper housing to define a bin interior, a first pivot mechanism operatively associated, with the first side panel and the bucket, and a second pivot mechanism operatively associated, with the second side panel and the bucket, and the first and second pivot mechanisms are axially aligned along and are rotatable about a pivot axis such that the bucket pivots about the pivot axis with respect to the upper housing between an open position and a closed position.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0006] 

    FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of two pivot bin assemblies in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention showing a first pivot bin assembly in an open position and a second pivot bin assembly in a closed position;

    FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a portion of an aircraft cabin with a series of pivot bin assemblies installed therein;

    FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the pivot bin assemblies of FIG. 1;

    FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the pivot bin assemblies of FIG. 1 with luggage therein;

    FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the pivot bin assemblies of FIG. 1 with one of the bucket exploded therefrom;

    FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 6--6 of FIG. 1;

    FIG. 7A is a cross-sectional view taken along the same line as FIG. 7A, but showing an alternative embodiment for securing the bucket to the upper housing;

    FIG. 7B is a cross-sectional view of a portion of the pivot bin assemblies of FIG. 1;

    FIG. 7C is a cross-sectional view taken along line 7C--7C of FIG. 1;

    FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of one of the pivot bin assemblies of FIG. 1 and showing how a standard piece of luggage fits therein;

    FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of one of the pivot bin assemblies of FIG. 1 with the PSU channel omitted;

    FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the a pivot bin assembly with a different valence;

    FIG. 11 is a detailed cross-sectional view showing a rotary damper pivot mechanism providing the pivot point between the side panel and the bucket;

    FIG. 12 is a detailed cross-sectional view showing a pivot axle as the pivot mechanism providing the pivot point between the side panel and the bucket;

    FIG. 13 is an elevational view showing the first latch assembly in the latched position;

    FIG. 14 is an elevational view showing the first latch assembly in the unlatched position;

    FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of the first latch assembly in the latched position;

    FIG. 16 is perspective view of a portion of an aircraft cabin showing a plurality of pivot bin assemblies and PSU pods installed therein and showing an empty PSU channel;

    FIG. 17A is a perspective view of the interior of an aircraft showing a series of PSU pod assemblies installed therein with cabin lighting shining upwardly;

    FIG. 17B is a perspective view of the interior of an aircraft showing a series of PSU pod assemblies installed therein with cabin lighting shining outwardly;

    FIG. 17C is a perspective view of the interior of an aircraft showing a series of PSU pod assemblies installed therein with cabin lighting shining downwardly;

    FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of a PSU pod assembly and showing the passenger components and system components;

    FIG. 19A is a side schematic view of a portion of a prior art aircraft showing a series of seats with the passenger components and system components located thereabove in the PSU channel;

    FIG. 19B is an end schematic view of a portion of a prior art aircraft showing a series of seats with the passenger components and system components located thereabove in the PSU channel;

    FIG. 20A is a side schematic view of a portion of an aircraft showing a series of seats with the passenger components and system components located thereabove;

    FIG. 20B is an end schematic view of a portion of an aircraft showing a series of seats with the passenger components and system components located thereabove;

    FIG. 21 is a side elevational view of an overhead storage compartment with a PSU pod assembly in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

    FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the PSU pod assembly of FIG. 21;

    FIG. 23 is an exploded perspective view of the PSU pod assembly of FIG. 21;

    FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional view of the PSU pod assembly of FIG. 21; and

    FIG. 25 is a perspective view of the interior of an aircraft showing a series of PSU pod assemblies installed therein.



    [0007] Like numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

    SUMMARY OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



    [0008] In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a personal service unit pod assembly configured to be positioned in the interior of an aircraft. The personal service unit pod assembly includes a personal service unit pod and a panel positioned directly above and affixed to the personal service unit pod. The pod includes a housing with a lens assembly and a pod interior, a first reading light positioned within the pod interior and configured to shine light below the bottom of the housing, and cabin lighting positioned in the housing and configured to shine light through the lens assembly and above the housing. The panel includes connectors that are configured to secure the personal service unit pod assembly to a component within the aircraft. The personal service unit pod assembly includes a light halo secured within the pod interior. The cabin lighting is seated on the light halo. Preferably, the housing includes a gasper recess, and at least one gasper is positioned in the gasper recess. Preferably, the housing includes a reading light opening defined in the bottom thereof, and the first reading light is aligned with and configured to shine light through the reading light opening.

    [0009] In a preferred embodiment, a bezel is associated with the reading light opening, and a switch that operates the first reading light is positioned in the bezel. Prefearbly, the panel includes a central opening defined therethrough. At least one wire extends from the first reading light through the opening and above the panel. In a preferred embodiment, a downward facing channel extends at least partially around the central opening, and the lens assembly includes a flange extending upwardly therefrom that is received in and secured in the channel. Preferably, the cabin lighting is an LED strip that extends generally around the reading light.

    [0010] In accordance with another example of the present invention there is provided an aircraft that includes a cabin that has at least one personal service unit channel positioned therein that includes personal service unit rails extending therealong, and a personal service unit pod assembly connected to the rails. The personal service unit pod assembly includes a panel and a housing generally positioned below the panel. The panel includes connectors that are connected to the personal service unit rails such that the panel is positioned beneath the personal service unit channel. The housing includes a lens assembly and defines a housing interior, at least a first reading light positioned within the pod interior and configured to shine light below the bottom of the housing, and cabin lighting positioned in the housing and configured to shine light through the lens assembly and above the housing.

    [0011] In a preferred embodiment, the panel includes a central opening therein, the housing includes an upper or central opening therein, and at least one wire extends from the first reading light through the upper opening and the central opening and into the personal service unit channel. Preferably, the housing includes at least one vent opening defined therein that is in air flow communication with a duct positioned in the personal service unit channel.

    [0012] In accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention there is provided a personal service unit pod assembly, wherein the housing includes a lower housing portion and an upper housing portion that cooperate to define a housing interior. The upper housing portion includes a central opening defined therein and is configured to allow light to shine therethrough. At least one wire from the first reading light extends through the central openings in the housing and the panel. The assembly also includes cabin lighting positioned in the housing and configured to direct light generally upwardly and through the upper housing portion.

    [0013] In an unclaimed example, the panel includes connectors on top thereof that are configured to secure the personal service unit pod assembly to a component within the aircraft. Preferably, the personal service unit pod assembly includes a light halo secured within the pod interior and the cabin lighting is seated on the light halo. The light halo and upper housing portion cooperate to define a light tunnel within the housing interior, and the cabin lighting is positioned in the light tunnel.

    [0014] In accordance with another example of the present invention there is provided a PSU pod assembly that is configured to be positioned in the interior of an aircraft. The PSU pod assembly includes a PSU pod that includes a housing that includes a top, a bottom and first, second, third and fourth sides that cooperate to define a pod interior and a panel positioned above and connected to the PSU pod. The PSU pod includes at least first and second reading lights positioned within the pod interior that are configured to shine light below the housing and cabin lights positioned on or in the housing that are configured to shine light above the housing. The panel includes connectors that are configured to secure the PSU pod assembly to a component within the aircraft. In a preferred embodiment, the PSU pod assembly includes a lens assembly positioned adjacent the cabin lights. Preferably, the housing includes at least one vent opening defined therein. In a preferred embodiment, the housing includes at least first and second reading light openings defined therein, and the first and second reading lights are aligned with and configured to shine light through the first and second reading light openings, respectively and the housing is spaced from the panel and the cabin lighting is positioned between the panel and the housing.

    [0015] In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention there is provided an aircraft that includes a cabin that has at least one PSU channel positioned therein that has a length and includes PSU rails extending therealong, a plurality of system components positioned along the length of the PSU channel, and a plurality of PSU pods that each comprise a housing surrounding a passenger component bundle. The PSU pods are positioned below the system components. In a preferred embodiment, the aircraft includes a plurality of panels that include connectors that are connected to the PSU rails. Each PSU pod is positioned below a panel. Preferably, each passenger component bundle includes at least two reading lights configured to shine light below the housing and each PSU pod includes cabin lights positioned on or in the housing that are configured to shine light above the housing. Preferably, the at least two reading lights are not positioned within the PSU channel. In a preferred embodiment, each of the housings of the PSU pods includes at least one vent opening defined therein that is in air flow communication with a duct positioned in the PSU channel. Preferably, the plurality of panels at least partially define and enclose the PSU channel and define a first height. The PSU pods are positioned below the first height and the PSU channel is positioned above the first height.

    [0016] In accordance with yet another unclaimed example, there is provided a method performed in the cabin of an aircraft that includes a plurality of rows of passenger seats positioned therein. The method includes positioning a first PSU pod within the cabin of the aircraft above at least a first passenger seat within a first row and below a PSU channel that contains system components therein and positioning a second PSU pod within the cabin of the aircraft above at least a second passenger seat within a second row and below the PSU channel. The first PSU pod includes a housing that has cabin lighting associated therewith and the second PSU pod includes a housing that has cabin lighting associated therewith. A first distance or pitch is defined between the first seat and the second seat and a second distance or pitch is defined between the first PSU pod and the second PSU pod. The first distance and the second distance are approximately the same. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that cabin lighting is not usually passenger row specific, but is tailored to the length of the aircraft. In a preferred embodiment, the method includes the step of switching on the cabin lighting from a first location that is remote from the first and second passenger seats. In a preferred embodiment, the first and second housings each include reading lights associated therewith, and the method includes the step of switching on at least one of the reading lights associated with the first housing from a second location adjacent the first passenger seat. The cabin is separated into a passenger area and a crew area, and the first location is in the crew area. Preferably, the first housing is positioned below and connected to a first panel that at least partially encloses and defines the PSU channel, and the second housing is positioned below and connected to a second panel that at least partially encloses and defines the PSU channel. In a preferred embodiment, the method further includes the step of positioning a third PSU pod within the cabin of the aircraft above at least a third passenger seat within a third row and below the PSU channel. The third PSU pod includes a housing that has cabin lighting associated therewith. A third distance is defined between the second seat and the third seat and a fourth distance is defined between the second PSU pod and the third PSU pod. The first distance, second distance, third distance and fourth distance are approximately the same.

    [0017] In accordance with another unclaimed example, there is provided an overhead stowage bin assembly that is configured to receive luggage and be positioned in the interior of an aircraft, the overhead stowage bin assembly includes an enclosure that includes a door, bucket or tray that is openable to receive luggage in an enclosure interior. The enclosure includes an integral PSU channel formed therewith and includes first and second rails that, when the overhead stowage bin assembly is positioned in an aircraft, extend generally parallel to a longitudinally extending axis of the aircraft. The overhead stowage bin assembly includes at least one panel that is connected to the first and second rails and partially defines the PSU channel and a PSU pod positioned below and connected to the panel. The PSU pod includes a housing that includes a top, a bottom and first, second, third and fourth sides that cooperate to define a pod interior, at least first and second reading lights positioned within the pod interior and configured to shine light below the housing, and cabin lights positioned on or in the housing and configured to shine light above the housing. In a preferred embodiment, the enclosure includes an ECS channel integral therewith that is separate from the PSU channel.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



    [0018] The following description and drawings are illustrative and are not to be construed as limiting. Numerous specific details are described to provide a thorough understanding of the disclosure. However, in certain instances, well-known or conventional details are not described in order to avoid obscuring the description. References to one or an embodiment in the present disclosure can be, but not necessarily are references to the same embodiment; and, such references mean at least one of the embodiments.

    [0019] Reference in this specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the-disclosure. The appearances of the phrase "in one embodiment" in various places in the specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment, nor are separate or alternative embodiments mutually exclusive of other embodiments. Moreover, various features are described which may be exhibited by some embodiments and not by others. Similarly, various requirements are described which may be requirements for some embodiments but not other embodiments.

    [0020] The terms used in this specification generally have their ordinary meanings in the art, within the context of the disclosure, and in the specific context where each term is used. Certain terms that are used to describe the disclosure are discussed below, or elsewhere in the specification, to provide additional guidance to the practitioner regarding the description of the disclosure. For convenience, certain terms may be highlighted, for example using italics and/or quotation marks: The use of highlighting has no influence on the scope and meaning of a term; the scope and meaning of a term is the same, in the same context, whether or not it is highlighted.

    [0021] It will be appreciated that the same thing can be said in more than one way. Consequently, alternative language and synonyms may be used for any one or more of the terms discussed herein. No special significance is to be placed upon whether or not a term is elaborated or discussed herein. Synonyms for certain terms are provided. A recital of one or more synonyms does not exclude the use of other synonyms. The use of examples anywhere in this specification including examples of any terms discussed herein is illustrative only. Likewise, the disclosure is not limited to various embodiments given in this specification.

    [0022] Note that titles or subtitles may be used in the examples for convenience of a reader, which in no way should limit the scope of the disclosure. Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure pertains. In the case of conflict, the present document, including definitions, will control.

    [0023] It will be appreciated that terms such as "front," "back," "top," "bottom," "side," "short," "long," "up," "down," "aft," "forward," "inboard," "outboard" and "below" used herein are merely for ease of description and refer to the orientation of the components as shown in the figures. It should be understood that any orientation of the components described herein is within the scope of the present invention.

    [0024] Referring now to the drawings, wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating the present invention and not for purposes of limiting the same, FIGS. 1-16 show a pivot bin assembly 10. In particular, the invention can be used on commercial passenger aircraft. However, this is not a limitation on the present invention and the pivot bin assembly 10 can be used elsewhere.

    [0025] The present invention pivot bin assembly 10 employs a "clamshell design." In a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 allows as much of the entire volume inside the bin as possible to be used, increasing volume and baggage capacity when compared to the prior art. The design and structure also provides a way to integrate systems such as environmental control system ("ECS") ducting and electrical.

    [0026] As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, within the cabin of an aircraft, overhead stowage bins are typically secured to attachment points, such as hard points and overhead and side attachments. Accordingly, a description of the attachment of the pivot bin assembly will be omitted.

    [0027] FIGS. 1-16 show a dual pivot bin assembly that is essentially two pivot bin assemblies 10 with a common strongback 12 and that can be installed together in the cabin of an aircraft. However, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, that a single and separate pivot bin assembly 10 with a single strongback 12 is within the scope of the present invention and is described and claimed herein. In another embodiment, more than two or multiple pivot bin assemblies 10 can include a common strongback 12. The figures show pivot bin assemblies 10 that are positioned outboard on the aircraft. However, it will be appreciated, that the pivot bin assembly 10 can be used inboard on a wide body aircraft. For example, two sets of back to back outboard facing pivot bin assemblies 10 can include a common strongback 12.

    [0028] In a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes the strongback 12, a tray or bucket 14 with a first and a second pivot mechanism or pivot axle 16a and 16b on each side, and first and second side panels 18a and 18b. With respect to each pivot bin assembly 10, the strongback 12 and first and second side panels 18a and 18b are referred to herein together as the upper housing 26. Generally, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes the upper housing 26, which includes the strongback 12 and the first and second side panels 18a and 18b, and the bucket 14. The bucket 14 and upper housing 26 cooperate to define a bin interior 36. In a preferred embodiment, the bucket 14 defines the lower portion of the bin interior 36 and the upper housing defines the upper portion of the bin interior 36.

    [0029] In the embodiment shown in the figures, the strongback 12 and first and second side panels 18a and 18b are separate components. However, in another embodiment, the strongback 12 and first and second side panels 18a and 18b (the upper housing 26) can be a unitary component. In a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes a single piece bucket 14 that includes a bottom 28 and first and second opposing sides 24a and 24b. In another embodiment, the bucket 14 can include multiple pieces, e.g., a three piece design that includes the bottom 28 and first and second opposing sides 24a and 24b as separate components. It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the bucket 14 and upper housing 26 provide a "clamshell design," where at least a portion of the bottom edge 19a of the first side panel 18a and the bottom edge 19b of the second side panel 18b and the front bottom edge 12a of the strongback 12 meet edge to edge with or abut the top edge 14a of the bucket 14. In a preferred embodiment, in the closed position, other than the rear top edge 28b of the bottom 28 of the bucket 14 and the area adjacent thereto and the strongback 12 (see FIG. 8), there is little to no overlap between the bucket 14 and the upper housing 26. In a preferred embodiment, other than the localized overlap between the first and second ears 20a and 20b and the first and second indented portions 22a and 22b, in the closed position, there is no overlap between the first and second side panels 18a and 18b and the first and second sides 24a and 24b of the bucket 14. In other words, in a preferred embodiment, the bucket 14 does not enter the upper portion of the bin interior 36, which is defined by the upper housing 26, when the bucket 14 is pivoted to the closed position. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that not only does this increase stowage volume and reduce weight by eliminating redundant paneling, but also significantly decreases the number of parts needed for the entire pivot bin assembly 10, compared to the prior art. As shown in the figures, the strongback 12 can include an integral valence 34 for lighting, ducting and/or other system components that can be generally hidden from passenger view. In a preferred embodiment, the valence 34 is formed as a unitary portion of the strongback 12. However, this is not a limitation on the present invention and the valence 34 can be omitted. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, within the cabin of an aircraft, overhead stowage bins are typically secured to attachment points, such as hard points and overhead and side attachments. Accordingly, a detailed description of the attachment of the pivot bin assembly will be omitted.

    [0030] When the bucket 14 is pivoted to the closed position, the first and second sides 24a and 24b of the bucket 14 are not received in the upper portion of the bin interior 36. In other words, in the portion of the first and second side panels 18a and 18b that do not include the first and second ears 20a and 20b and first and second indented portions 22a and 22b, the first and second top edges 25a and 25b do not pass or overlap with the first and second bottom edges 19a and 19b when the bucket 14 is pivoted to the closed position. Preferably, the first and second top edges 25a and 25b and first and second bottom edges 19a and 19b abut one another. However, an embodiment is possible where the first and second top edges 25a and 25b and first and second bottom edges 19a and 19b are horizontally separated from one another, but, in a vertical direction, the first and second top edges 25a and 25b do not pass or overlap with the first and second bottom edges 19a and 19b when the bucket 14 is pivoted to the closed position.

    [0031] In a preferred embodiment, the strongback 12, bucket 14 and first and second side panels 18a and 18b are made out of crush-core panel. However, this is not a limitation on the present invention and other materials can be used. In an exemplary embodiment, the single piece bucket 14 is made using crush core match metal molding. This creates a continuous composite structure with a C-frame cross section that can be made from a single mold. The continuous piece acts as a structural I-beam. However, this structure is not a limitation on the present invention.

    [0032] As shown in FIGS. 1-12, generally, first and second side panels 18a and 18b include first and second pivot mechanisms 16a and 16b that are operatively associated with the bucket 14, and allow the bucket 14 to pivot with respect to the upper housing 26 between an open position and a closed position. Any type of pivot mechanism that allows the bucket 14 to pivot with respect to the upper housing 26 is within the scope of the present invention. For example, the first and second pivot mechanisms 16a and 16b can be pivot axles, as shown in FIG. 12. It will be appreciated that the first and second pivot mechanisms 16a and 16b or axles pivot or rotate about a pivot axis. In a preferred embodiment, the first and second pivot mechanisms 16a and 16b are axially aligned such that the pivot axles rotate about the same axis A1, as shown in FIGS 7C and 8.

    [0033] In a preferred embodiment, the first side panel 18a includes a first ear 20a and the second side panel 18b includes a second ear 20b extending downwardly therefrom. The first and second ears 20a and 20b mate with or are received in first and second indented portions 22a and 22b that are formed in the first and second sides 24a and 24b of the bucket 14. As shown in the figures, preferably, the first and second indented portions 22a and 22b extend inwardly into the interior of the bucket 14. However, in another embodiment, the indented portions can extend outwardly. Furthermore, in another embodiment, the ears can extend upwardly from the bucket and the indented portions can be defined inwardly or outwardly on the side panels of the upper housing.

    [0034] In a preferred embodiment, the first side panel 18a, first ear 20a and the first side 24a of the bucket 14 (other than the first indented portion 22a) all are positioned in a generally common plane P1 (see FIG. 6). Likewise, the second side panel 18b, second ear 20b and the second side 24b of the bucket 14 (other than the second indented portion 22b) all are positioned in a generally common plane. In another embodiment, the first and second ears 20a and 20b can be part of the bucket 14 and the first and second indented portions 22a and 22b can be defined in the first and second side panels 18a and 18b.

    [0035] As discussed above, and as shown in FIGS. 6 and 8, in a preferred embodiment, in the closed position, the bottom edges of the first and second side panels 18a and 18b abut the top edges 25a and 25b of the first and second sides 24a and 24b of the bucket 14 (FIG. 6) and the front bottom edge 12a of the strongback 12 abuts the front top edge 28a of the bottom 28 of the bucket 14 (FIGS. 8 and 14). As is also shown in FIGS. 8 and 14, the bottom 28 of they bucket 14 includes a rear top edge 28b that is positioned adjacent to but does not abut a rear bottom edge 12b of the strongback 12. This allows a portion of the bottom 28 of the bucket to overlap with the strongback 12 when the bucket 14 pivots to the open position. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that in a commercial embodiment, the bucket and/or upper housing may include edge trim, seals or the like that cover the top edges of the bucket or the bottom edges of the upper housing. However, this is not a limitation on the present invention and any such components are considered part of the upper housing or bucket for purposes of the claims appended hereto. In a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes at least one stop member 15 (and preferably a plurality of step members) positioned within the bin interior 36 and that maintains the bucket 14 in the open position and prevents it from pivoting too far. Any type of stop member 15 is within the scope of the present invention. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, the stop member 15 can abut the angled top edge 14b of the back of the bucket 14 and/or the rear top edge 28b of the bottom 28 of the bucket 28. The stop member 15 can be a separate component or be built in to the upper housing 26 (e.g., a ledge).

    [0036] In a preferred embodiment, the first pivot mechanism 16a extends between the first ear 20a and the first side 24a of the bucket 14 and the second pivot mechanism 16b extends between the second ear 20b and second first side 24b of the bucket 14. As discussed above, the first and second pivot mechanisms can be pivot axles on which the bucket 14 can rotate. As shown in FIGS. 5-6 and 7B-7C, a portion of the first pivot mechanism 16a can be positioned in corresponding openings 32a and 33a in the first ear 20a and first side 24a, respectively, and a portion of the second pivot mechanism 16b can be positioned in corresponding openings 32b and 33b in the second ear 20b and second side 24b, respectively. In another embodiment, a pivot axle can extend from the bucket and into an opening in the ear or vice versa. Any pair of pivot mechanisms that are axially aligned and that allow the bucket 14 to pivot with respect to the upper housing 26 is within the scope of the present invention.

    [0037] As shown in FIG. 11, in a preferred embodiment, the first and second pivot mechanism comprise first and second rotary dampers 17a and 17b. With respect to the first rotary damper 17a, one of the housing 19 or the axle 21 is secured within opening 32a and the other is secured within opening 33a. With respect to the second rotary damper 17b, one of the housing 19 or the axle 21 is secured within opening 32b and the other is secured within opening 33b. It will be appreciated that FIG. 11 only shows the first rotary damper 17a, but that second rotary damper 17b is a mirror image thereof. The first and second rotary dampers 17a and 17b can include covers 23 to secure them in place.

    [0038] It will be understood that the first and second rotary dampers 17a and 17b provide the ability to damp or control the descent or pivoting of the bucket when it pivots to the open position. In a preferred embodiment, the first and second rotary dampers can be the rotary damper taught in U.S. Patent App. No. 61/598,836 and simultaneously filed U.S. Patent App. No. 13/765,358 titled Freewheeling Rotary Damping Mechanism naming inventors Steve Kearsey and Richard McClure (attorney docket no. 71703-5038). In another embodiment, the first and second rotary dampers can be the rotary damper taught in U.S. Patent App. No. 61/598,846 and simultaneously filed U.S. Patent App. No. 13/765,435 titled Rotary Damping Mechanism With Pivotal Vanes naming inventors Steve Kearsey and Richard McClure (attorney docket no. 71703-5039). In another embodiment, each of the first and second side panels 18a and 18b can include a cover 23 positioned on the outside or the inside of the bin interior 36 and that secures the first and second side panels 18a and 18b to the bucket 14 and that covers and houses the first and second pivot mechanism 16a and 16b. It will be appreciated that any type of power assist (for raising or lowering the bucket) or damper is within the scope of the present invention. For example, the present invention can utilize a prior art damper, such as a linear damper that includes a cylinder with a piston and damping fluid therein or a spring for assist, as is known in the art.

    [0039] As shown in FIGS. 1-5 and, more specifically in FIGS. 13-15, in a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes first and second latch assemblies 40a and 40b operatively associated with the first and second side panels 18a and 18b and the first and second sides 24a and 24b of the bucket 14. Preferably, the first latch assembly 40a includes a first hook portion 42a 44a and a first striker portion and the second latch assembly 40b includes a second hook portion 42b and a second striker portion 44b. In a preferred embodiment, the first hook portion 42a extends downwardly from the bottom edge 19a of the first side panel 18a and the first striker portion 44a is positioned in a first recess 41a defined in the top edge 25a of the first side 24a of the bucket 14 and the second hook portion 42b extends downwardly from the bottom edge 19b of the second side panel 18b and the second striker portion 44b is positioned in a second recess 41b defined in the top edge 25b of the second side 24b of the bucket 14. In another embodiment, the first hook portion 42a extends upwardly from the top edge 25a of the first side 24a of the bucket 14 and the first striker portion 44a is positioned in a first recess defined in the bottom edge of the first side panel 18a, and the second hook portion 42b extends upwardly from the top edge 25b of the second side 24b of the bucket 14 and the second striker portion 44b is positioned in a second recess defined in the bottom edge of the second side panel 18b. In another preferred embodiment, the first striker portion 44a extends downwardly from the bottom edge 19a of the first side panel 18a and the first hook portion 42a is positioned in a first recess 41a defined in the top edge 25a of the first side 24a of the bucket 14 and the second striker portion 44b extends downwardly from the bottom edge 19b of the second side panel 18b and the second hook portion 42b is positioned in a second recess 41b defined in the top edge 25b of the second side 24b of the bucket 14. In another embodiment, the first striker portion 44a extends upwardly from the top edge 25a of the first side 24a of the bucket 14 and the first hook portion 42a is positioned in a first recess defined in the bottom edge of the first side panel 18a, and the second striker portion 44b extends upwardly from the top edge 25b of the second side 24b of the bucket 14 and the second hook portion 42b is positioned in a second recess defined in the bottom edge of the second side panel 18b. The first and second latch assemblies 40a and 40b can be actuated manually or electronically. As shown in FIG. 5, the pivot bin assembly 10 preferably includes an operating member 27 disposed on the bucket 14. In a preferred embodiment, the operating member 27 comprises a switch that is in electrical communication (with wires or wirelessly) with the first and second latch assemblies 40a and 40b.

    [0040] It will be appreciated that any type of latching mechanism that allows the bucket 14 to connect to the upper housing 26 is within the scope of the present invention. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that the terms first hook portion and second hook portion refer to the entire assembly secured to the upper housing in the figures. And, the terms first striker portion and second striker portion refer to the entire assembly secured to the upper housing in the figures. The hook portion can be any latching mechanism that includes a hook or latch that mates with or latches to a striker. FIGS. 13-15 show an exemplary embodiment of the first latch assembly 40a. It will be understood that the second latch assembly 40b includes essentially the same components. FIGS. 13 and 15 show the first latch assembly 40a in the latched position and FIG. 14 shows the first latch assembly 40a in the unlatched position. Preferably, the first hook portion 42a is mounted in a recess 29a in the first side panel 18a and includes a housing 31a, a hook 35a and guide members 37a that help guide the striker 39a (which can be secured in place by a threaded fastener 51a) into the desired position. As is known in the art, the hook 35a can be mounted on a pivot pin and include a spring 43a for urging it into the desired position. Preferably the first striker portion 44a includes a housing 45a that defines a guide recess 47a defined therein and that is spanned by the striker 39a. In use, when the bucket 14 is pivoted to the closed position, the guide members 37a are received in the guide recess 47a, and, as a result of the angle on the bottom edge of the hook 35a and the round shape of the striker 39a, the hook 35a is pivoted out of the way and the striker 39a is received fully between the guide members 37a. As a result of the spring 43a, the hook 35a is urged into the position shown in FIG. 13, and the first latch assembly 40a is now in the latched position.

    [0041] It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that by the first and second hook portions 42a and 42b extending downwardly from the first and second side panels 18a and 18b and latching to first and second striker portions 44a and 44b, which are essentially embedded in the first and second sides 24a and 24b of the bucket 14 allows the top edge 14a of the bucket 14 (i.e., top edges 25a and 25b and front top edge 28a to abut the bottom edge (bottom edges 19a and 19b and front bottom edge 12a) of the upper housing 26. In other words, the first side panel 18a, the first side 24a of the bucket 14 and the first latch assembly 40a are all lined up generally vertically and the second side panel 18b, the second side 24b of the bucket 14 and the second latch assembly 40b are all lined up generally vertically.

    [0042] The first and second latch assemblies 40a and 40b shown in the figures are not a limitation on the present invention and any type of latch assembly or mechanism for securing the bucket 14 to the upper housing 26 is within the scope of the present invention. For example, the pivot bin assembly can include a center latch that connects the bucket to the strongback.

    [0043] As shown in FIGS. 4, 8 and 14, the inventive pivot bin assembly 10 is designed to stow standard Travel Pro 22" bags or luggage 11 wheels first on their edge (this type of bag is referred to herein as "standard luggage"). As will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, storage of a maximum amount of luggage within overhead stowage bins is of utmost importance in passenger aircraft and the standard luggage discussed herein is used as an industry standard when determining the amount of cargo that will fit into overhead stowage bins. As shown in FIG. 4, a piece of standard luggage 11 includes a top 11a, a bottom 11b, a front 11c, a back 11d and two sides 11e. Typically, the standard luggage 11 includes wheels on the bottom 11b thereof. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a pivot bin assembly 10 can stow up to four pieces of standard luggage within the bin interior. However, this is not a limitation on the present invention. In another embodiment, the present invention can store more or less standard luggage.

    [0044] In a preferred embodiment, the pivot axis A1 or pivot point provided by the first and second pivot mechanisms 16a and 16b is not along the same lengthwise axis as the luggage stored within the bin interior, but is instead non-centrally located. Furthermore, the center of gravity of the luggage in the bin interior is moved outboard when compared to the prior art and closer to the pivot axis A1, thereby making the bucket 14 easier to close. Furthermore, compared to prior art pivot bins, the pivot bin assembly 10 can be moved further outboard from the aisle, thereby providing more passenger space and an open cabin feel. However, none of the statements that include comparisons to the prior art are intended to be a limitation on the present invention.

    [0045] With reference to FIGS. 19A-19B, as will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, passenger aircraft typically include what is referred to as a passenger service unit ("PSU"), which is situated generally above each seat row (although not typically at the same pitch with respect to each seat row) in the overhead panel above the passenger seats in the cabin of airliners. Amongst other things a PSU contains reading lights, loudspeakers, illuminated signs and automatically deployed oxygen masks and also gaspers providing conditioned air. Passenger service units typically include individual PSU panels 117 that are specialized for each function (e.g., speaker panels, reading light panels, spacer panels, etc.) and that are positioned on rails 116 that run the length of the interior of the cabin. These individual functional specific panels are then configured to meet the aircraft and passenger needs, typically resulting in the configuration and installation of three hundred or more specialized panels. These panels 117 are installed within and cover a PSU channel 118 that is filled with both passenger elements 112 (e.g., reading lights, gaspers, flight attendant buttons, etc.) and systems elements 114 (wiring, oxygen tanks/components, cabin lights and associated electronics, ducting, etc.) creating a ceiling 120 above the passenger that restricts\bounds the passenger's head room. As shown in FIG. 19A, there is a fixed distance or height H1 from the floor 122 to the "ceiling" 120.

    [0046] With reference to at least FIGS. 16-20B, in a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes an integrated PSU channel 50 and a PSU pod 52 for each passenger row. As discussed above, aircraft PSUs typically include two types of elements: passenger elements 112 (reading lights, gaspers/air vents and flight attendant call buttons) and systems elements 114 (wiring, oxygen tanks 113/components, cabin lights and associated electronics, ducting, etc.). As shown in FIG. 18, the PSU pod 52 provides a way to at least partially separate the passenger element bundle 112 for each row from the systems elements bundle 114 for each row. By separating the passenger elements 112 from the systems elements 114 that are typically installed in a PSU, a PSU pod 52 (for the passenger elements 112) is configured or positioned independent of the systems elements 114, which are positioned in the PSU channel 50. As shown in FIGS. 18 and 20A, in a preferred embodiment, the passenger elements bundle 112 is positioned below the systems elements bundle 114. It will be appreciated that in another embodiment of the invention, the PSU pod 52 and PSU pod assembly 58 can be used with overhead bins different than the clamshell design described herein. For example, the PSU pod assembly 58 can be used with other types of pivot bins or an overhead stowage bin that is fixed but includes a pivotal door. The PSU pod assembly can be used with any overhead stowage bin that includes an enclosure for luggage and a PSU channel formed integrally therewith.

    [0047] In a preferred embodiment, the PSU pod 52 preferably includes a housing 54 that includes first, second, third and fourth sides 53a, 53b, 53c and 53d, a top 53e and a bottom 53f that cooperate to define a pod interior 58, a plurality of reading lights 60 (that are aligned with an either extend through or shine light through reading light openings 54a), cabin lighting 62, a lens assembly 64 and a vent or gasper 66 defined in the housing for gasping conditioned air. It will be appreciated that the housing can be circular, ovular or elliptical in shape. For purposes of this disclosure, these shapes are considered to have first, second, third and fourth sides. In a preferred embodiment, the PSU pod 52 is part of a PSU pod assembly 58 that includes a panel 56 that has connectors 70a (such as hooks), that mate with rails or connectors 70b that are a part of the strongback 12 and extend in a direction that is generally parallel to the axis of the aircraft. In the figures, "70" is used to designate the connection between 70a and 70b. It will be appreciated that any type of connection, such as hooks, rivets, threaded fasteners, magnets, snap fit arrangements or any other method of securing the panels 56 and PSU pod 52 to the upper housing 26 or strongback 12 is within the scope of the present invention. The PSU pod 52 is connected to and extends or hangs downwardly from the panel 56, thereby creating the PSU pod assembly 58. In another embodiment, the panel can be omitted and the PSU pod itself can be connected to the rails 70b. When installed in an aircraft, wires for electrical connection (to both the reading lights 60 and the cabin lighting 62) and ducting for the gasper(s) 66 extends from the PSU channel 50 through an opening 56a (or openings) in the panel 56 and down into the housing 54. The PSU pod 52 can include a flight attendant call button 72 thereon.

    [0048] As discussed above, in a preferred embodiment, the PSU pod assembly 58 also includes cabin lighting 62 that is associated with the PSU pod 52. The cabin lighting 62 can be any type of lighting (e.g., LEDs, incandescent, halogen, etc.) and can be positioned within or on housing 54. In a preferred embodiment, the PSU pod assembly 58 also includes a lens assembly 64 that helps direct light that shines from the cabin lighting 62 as desired. As is best shown in FIG. 17A, the light 62a from the cabin lighting 62 shines from the top of the PSU pod 52 and washes along and down the panels 56, bucket 14 and sidewalls, etc. of the aircraft. As a result of this arrangement, in a preferred embodiment, the PSU pods 52 provide passenger specific reading lights 60 that shine generally downwardly and outwardly and row specific cabin lighting that shines generally upwardly and outwardly. FIG. 17B shows another embodiment, where the reading lights, vent and flight attendant call button are omitted and the PSU pod 52 includes cabin lighting shining out the first, second, third and fourth sides 53a-53d. FIG. 17C shows another embodiment, where the reading lights, vent and flight attendant call button are omitted and the PSU pod 52 includes cabin lighting shining out the bottom of the housing 54. These embodiments can also include the reading lights, vent and flight attendant call button. These embodiments all create cabin lighting specifically for each row by positioning the cabin lighting on or in the PSU pods 52.

    [0049] With reference to FIGS. 20A-20B, as discussed above, generally, in the present invention, a passenger element bundle 112 is included in each PSU pod 52 and the systems elements 114 are disposed within the PSU channel 50 or at some other position above the ceiling defined by either the overhead bins or the panels 56 used to hide the systems elements 114. It will be understood that the systems elements 114 include both row specific elements (e.g., oxygen tanks/masks) and non-row specific elements (air ducts, electrical wiring, etc.). These elements are shown schematically in FIGS. 19A-20B as a box or bundle. However, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that systems elements 114 can be located at any position along the PSU channel 50. In a preferred embodiment, the systems elements 114 are stacked generally above the PSU pod 52 and the passenger elements 112. In other words, the PSU pod 52 is positioned below the PSU channel 50 that houses the systems elements 114. However, as discussed above, not all systems elements 114 will be positioned directly above the passenger elements 112 or PSU pod 52. In other words, the passenger elements 112 or PSU pod 52 or located at a first level and the systems elements 114 are located at a second level or height that is higher than the passenger elements 112 or PSU pod 52.

    [0050] The PSU pod 52 changes the configuration and installation methodology of the prior art by using a row specific design and a completed channel 50 built in to and defined within the pivot bin assembly 10. Compared to the prior art, this helps eliminate or reduce unnecessary spacer panels. In a preferred embodiment, each PSU pod 52 has the same pitch or alignment with respect to each row of seats 124. It will be appreciated that the positioning of the PSU pod assembly 58 can be adjusted as a result of the connection 70 between the connectors 70a and the rails 70b. In other words, the PSU pod assembly 58 can slide fore or aft on the rails 70b. Furthermore, by reducing the number of components in the PSU channel, the height of the panels can be raised (compared to the prior art), to a height H2, that is greater than the height H1 in a similar prior art aircraft. Furthermore, although the PSU pod 52 extend downwardly below the panels 56, in a preferred embodiment, it can be positioned at a height H1 that is the same or similar to the height of the prior art ceiling 120/panel 117 height. This allows the PSU pod 52 to be positioned such that the height H2 provides more passenger space or headroom than the prior art and positions the PSU pod 52 and the elements therein or thereon (e.g., reading lights, vents, cabin lighting, etc.) at a consistent position or pitch for each row of passengers. In other words, passenger headroom height between PSU pods 52 is increased when compared to the prior art. However, the positioning of the PSU pod 52 is not a limitation on the present invention. In another embodiment, they can be positioned lower than the prior art height H1 and/or they can be positioned such that they have a different pitch than each row.

    [0051] In another embodiment, the cabin lighting can be omitted or more or less reading lights can be included. The switches or buttons for the reading lights 60 can be positioned on the PSU pod 52 or elsewhere within reach of the passenger for which each reading light 60 is intended. In a preferred embodiment, the reading lights 60 are controlled by the passengers seated in the row for which the PSU pod 52 is designated and the cabin lighting 62 is controlled by the crew from a location remote from the passengers.

    [0052] FIGS. 21-25 show another preferred embodiment of a PSU pod 76 and PSU pod assembly 77 that includes a gasper recess 78 having at least one adjustable gasper 66 positioned therein. Each gasper 66 includes a vent opening through which air is controllably emitted. In other words, the gaspers 66 are inset with respect to the housing bottom 53f. Preferably, the bottom of the housing 53f is positioned below the bottom most point of the gaspers 66. In another embodiment, the gaspers 66 may extend at least partially below the bottom of the housing 53f. It will be appreciated that the number of gaspers 66 typically corresponds to the number of seats in a row. The gaspers 66 are positioned in gasper openings 87 in the housing 54 and receive air from a duct 88.

    [0053] As shown in FIG. 23-24, The PSU pod 76 includes a plurality of reading lights 60 that are aligned with and shine light through a single reading light opening 54a that has a transparent or translucent cover 79 thereon and a bezel 80 therearound. In a preferred embodiment, the buttons 82 for each of the reading lights 60 are positioned in the bezel 80. This helps hide the buttons 82 and provides an aesthetic look. In another embodiment, the buttons can be positioned elsewhere. In another embodiment, the buttons can be capacitive touch buttons that are part of the housing. The PSU pod 76 can also include indicators 84 such as fasten seat belt, no smoking and wifi, etc. that are associated with the bottom 53f of the housing 54 and are lighted by lights 86 therebehind. Buttons 82 for other purposes, such as flight attendant call, can also be positioned in the bezel 80 or elsewhere on the housing 54.

    [0054] As shown in FIG. 23, in a preferred embodiment, the PSU pod assembly 77 also includes a light halo 89 that supports and seats the cabin lights 62, which, in this embodiment, is a strip 90 with a plurality of LEDs 91 thereon. The light halo 89 includes a plurality of brackets 92 that mate with brackets 93 on the panel 56 and brackets/openings in the housing 54 that are all secured together with fasteners, adhesive or other attachment method. As shown in FIG. 23, the lens assembly 64 (which is part of housing 54) preferably includes a generally vertically oriented section 64a and a generally horizontally oriented section 64b. This allows the cabin lighting 62 to shine outwardly and upwardly. In other words, the housing 54 includes a lower housing portion 100 and an upper housing portion, which is also referred to herein as the lens assembly 64. The upper housing portion 64 includes a central opening 101. As shown in FIG. 23, the light halo 89 and the lens assembly 84 cooperate to define a light tunnel 97 within the pod/housing interior 59 and in which the cabin lighting 62 is positioned.

    [0055] As shown in FIGS. 23-24, the panel 56 includes a downward facing channel 98 defined therein that extends at least partially around the central opening 56a. The lens assembly 64 includes a flange 99 extending upwardly therefrom that is received in and secured in the channel 98. Threaded fasteners, rivets, adhesive or the like secure the flange 99 within the channel 98. For example, fasteners can extend through openings 94a and 94b to secure the lens assembly 64 (and therefore the housing 54) to the panel 56. The PSU pod assembly 77 can also include a panel stiffener 96.

    [0056] When installed in an aircraft, wires 95 for electrical connection (to both the reading lights 60, the cabin lighting 62, buttons 82 indicator lights 86 and any other electrical components) and ducting 88 for the gasper(s) 66 extends from the PSU channel 50 through an opening 56a (or openings) in the panel 56 and down into the housing 54. The PSU pod 52 can include a flight attendant call button 72 thereon.

    [0057] With reference to FIG. 8, in a preferred embodiment, the pivot bin assembly 10 includes an environmental control system ("ECS") that includes ducting and electrical. In a preferred embodiment, the strongback 12 serves as the enclosure of the ECS ducting. As discussed above, at least a portion of the ECS components are positioned in the PSU channel 50. However, the pivot bin assembly 10 can also include at least one further separate ECS channel 74. Electrical wire harnesses can be directly attached to the pivot bin assembly 10 instead of the aircraft for an easier and cleaner installation, when compared to the prior art. However, the ECS channel can be omitted and the ducting, electrical, etc. can be connected to the aircraft in another embodiment.

    [0058] Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words "comprise," "comprising," and the like are to be construed in an inclusive sense, as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense; that is to say, in the sense of "including, but not limited to." As used herein, the terms "connected," "coupled," or any variant thereof, means any connection or coupling, either direct or indirect, between two or more elements; the coupling of connection between the elements can be physical, logical, or a combination thereof Additionally, the words "herein," "above," "below," and words of similar import, when used in this application, shall refer to this application as a whole and not to any particular portions of this application. Where the context permits, words in the above Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments using the singular or plural number may also include the plural or singular number respectively. The word "or" in reference to a list of two or more items, covers all of the following interpretations of the word: any of the items in the list, all of the items in the list, and any combination of the items in the list.

    [0059] The above-detailed description of embodiments of the disclosure is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the teachings to the precise form disclosed above. Specific embodiments of and examples for the disclosure are described above for illustrative purposes as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize. Further, any specific numbers noted herein are only examples: alternative implementations may employ differing values, measurements or ranges.

    [0060] The teachings of the disclosure provided herein can be applied to other systems, not necessarily the system described above. The elements and acts of the various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. Any measurements or dimensions described or used herein are merely exemplary and not a limitation on the present invention. Other measurements or dimensions are within the scope of the invention.

    [0061] These and other changes can be made to the disclosure in light of the above Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments. While the above description describes certain embodiments of the disclosure, and describes the best mode contemplated, no matter how detailed the above appears in text, the teachings can be practiced in many ways. Details of the system may vary considerably in its implementation details. As noted above, particular terminology used when describing certain features or aspects of the disclosure should not be taken to imply that the terminology is being redefined herein to be restricted to any specific characteristics, features or aspects of the disclosure with which that terminology is associated. In general, the terms used in the following claims should not be construed to limit the disclosures to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification unless the above Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments section explicitly defines such terms.

    [0062] Accordingly, although exemplary embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it is to be understood that all the terms used herein are descriptive rather than limiting, and that many changes, modifications, and substitutions may be made by one having ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. A personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) configured to be positioned in the interior of an aircraft, the personal service unit pod assembly(58, 77) comprising:

    a personal service unit pod (52, 76) that includes:

    a housing (54) that includes a lens assembly (64) and defines a pod interior (59),

    at least a first reading light (60) positioned within the pod interior (59) and configured to shine light below the bottom of the housing (54),

    cabin lighting (62) positioned in the housing (54) and configured to shine light through the lens assembly (64) and above the housing, and

    a light halo (89) secured within the pod interior (59), wherein the cabin lighting (62) is seated on the light halo (89); and

    a panel (56, 117) positioned directly above and affixed to the personal service unit pod (52, 76), wherein the panel (56, 117) includes connectors (70a) that are configured to secure the personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) to a component within the aircraft.


     
    2. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of claim 1, wherein the light halo (89) and the lens assembly (64) cooperate to define a light tunnel (97) within the pod interior (59) and in which the cabin lighting (62) is positioned.
     
    3. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of claim 1 or 2, wherein the lens assembly (64) comprises a generally vertically oriented section (64a) and a generally horizontally oriented section (64b).
     
    4. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of any preceding claim, wherein the light halo (89) comprises a plurality of brackets (92) that mate with brackets (93) on the panel (56) and brackets and/or openings in the housing (54).
     
    5. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of claim 1 wherein the housing (54) includes a gasper recess (78), and wherein at least one gasper (66) is positioned in the gasper recess (78).
     
    6. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of claim 1 wherein the housing (54) includes a reading light opening (54a) defined in the bottom thereof, and wherein the first reading light (60) is aligned with and configured to shine light through the reading light opening (54a).
     
    7. The personal service unit pod assembly (77) of claim 6 wherein a bezel (80) is associated with the reading light opening (54a), and wherein a switch (82) that operates the first reading light (60) is positioned in the bezel (80).
     
    8. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of claim 1 wherein the panel (56) includes a central opening (56a) defined therethrough, wherein at least one wire extends from the first reading light (60) through the opening (56a) and above the panel (56).
     
    9. The personal service unit pod assembly (77) of claim 8 wherein a downward facing channel (98) extends at least partially around the central opening (56a), and wherein the lens assembly (64) includes a flange (99) extending upwardly therefrom that is received in and secured in the channel (98).
     
    10. The personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) of claim 1 wherein the cabin lighting (62) is an LED strip that extends generally around the reading light (60).
     
    11. The personal service unit pod assembly (77) of any preceding claim, wherein::

    the housing (54) includes a lower housing portion (100) and an upper housing portion (64) that cooperate to define a housing interior (59), wherein the upper housing portion (64) includes a central opening (101) defined therein and is configured to allow light to shine therethrough,

    at least one wire from the first reading light (60) extends through the central openings (56a, 101) in the housing (54) and the panel (56), and

    the cabin lighting (62) positioned in the housing (54) is configured to direct light generally upwardly and through the upper housing portion (64).


     
    12. The personal service unit pod assembly (77) of claim 11 wherein the light halo (89) and upper housing portion (64) cooperate to define a light tunnel (97) within the housing interior (59), wherein the cabin lighting (62) is positioned in the light tunnel (97).
     
    13. An aircraft comprising:

    a cabin that has at least one personal service unit channel (50) positioned therein, wherein the personal service unit channel (50) includes personal service unit rails (70b) extending therealong, and

    a personal service unit pod assembly (58, 77) according to any preceding claim, wherein the housing (54) is generally positioned below the panel (56), wherein the connectors (70a) are connected to the personal service unit rails (70b) such that the panel (56) is positioned beneath the personal service unit channel (50).


     
    14. The aircraft of claim 13 when dependent on claim 11, wherein the housing (54) includes an upper opening (101) therein, and wherein the at least one wire extends from the first reading light (60) through the upper opening (101) and the central opening (56a) and into the personal service unit channel (56).
     
    15. The aircraft of claim 13 wherein the housing (54) includes at least one vent opening defined therein, wherein the vent opening is in air flow communication with a duct (88) positioned in the personal service unit channel (50).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77), konfiguriert zur Positionierung im Inneren eines Luftfahrzeugs, wobei die Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) Folgendes beinhaltet:
    eine Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondel (52, 76), Folgendes umfassend:

    ein Gehäuse (54), welches eine Linsenanordnung (64) umfasst und ein Gondelinneres (59) definiert,

    mindestens eine erste Leselampe (60), positioniert innerhalb des Gondelinneren (59) und konfiguriert, um Licht unterhalb der Unterseite des Gehäuses (54) scheinen zu lassen,

    eine Kabinenbeleuchtung (62), positioniert in dem Gehäuse (54) und konfiguriert, um Licht durch die Linsenanordnung (64) oberhalb des Gehäuses scheinen zu lassen, und

    einen Lichtkranz (89), welcher innerhalb des Gondelinneren (59) gesichert ist, wobei die Kabinenbeleuchtung (62) auf dem Lichtkranz (89) sitzt; und

    ein Paneel (56, 117), positioniert über und verbunden mit der Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondel (52, 76), wobei das Paneel (56, 117) Verbinder (70a) beinhaltet, welche konfiguriert sind, um die Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) an einem Bauteil innerhalb des Luftfahrzeugs zu sichern.


     
    2. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach Anspruch 1, bei welcher der Lichtkranz (89) und die Linsenanordnung (64) zusammenarbeiten, um einen Lichttunnel (97) innerhalb des Gondelinneren (59) zu definieren, in welchem die Kabinenbeleuchtung (62) positioniert ist.
     
    3. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, bei welcher die Linsenanordnung (64) einen allgemein vertikal ausgerichteten Abschnitt (64a) und einen allgemein horizontal ausgerichteten Abschnitt (64b) beinhaltet.
     
    4. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei welcher der Lichtkranz (89) eine Vielzahl von Klammern (92) beinhaltet, welche mit Klammern (93) an dem Paneel (56) und mit Klammern und/oder Öffnungen in dem Gehäuse (54) zusammenpassen.
     
    5. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach Anspruch 1, bei welcher das Gehäuse (54) eine Frischluftversorgungs-Vertiefung (78) umfasst, und wobei mindestens eine Frischluftversorgung (66) in der Frischluftversorgungs-Vertiefung (78) positioniert ist.
     
    6. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach Anspruch 1, bei welcher das Gehäuse (54) eine Leselampenöffnung (54a) umfasst, welche in der Unterseite davon definiert ist, und wobei die erste Leselampe (60) mit der Leselampenöffnung (54a) ausgefluchtet und konfiguriert ist, um Licht durch diese hindurch scheinen zu lassen.
     
    7. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (77) nach Anspruch 6, bei welcher eine Blende (80) der Leselampenöffnung (54a) zugeordnet ist, und wobei ein Schalter (82), welcher die erste Leselampe (60) betätigt, in der Blende (80) positioniert ist.
     
    8. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach Anspruch 1, bei welcher das Paneel (56) eine Öffnung (56a) beinhaltet, welche hierdurch definiert ist, wobei mindestens ein Draht sich von der ersten Leselampe (60) durch die Öffnung (56a) und oberhalb des Paneels (56) erstreckt.
     
    9. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (77) nach Anspruch 8, bei welcher ein abwärtsweisender Kanal (98) sich mindestens teilweise um die mittlere Öffnung (56a) erstreckt, und wobei die Linsenanordnung (64) einen Flansch (99) umfasst, welcher sich davon aufwärts erstreckt, welcher in dem Kanal (98) aufgenommen und darin gesichert ist.
     
    10. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach Anspruch 1, bei welcher die Kabinenbeleuchtung (62) ein LED-Streifen ist, welcher sich allgemein rund um die Leselampe (60) erstreckt.
     
    11. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (77) nach einem der vorherigen Ansprüche, bei welcher:

    das Gehäuse (54) einen unteren Gehäuseabschnitt (100) und einen oberen Gehäuseabschnitt (64) umfasst, welche zusammenarbeiten, um ein Gehäuseinneres (59) zu definieren, wobei der obere Gehäuseabschnitt (64) eine hierin definierte mittlere Öffnung (101) umfasst und konfiguriert ist, um Licht in die Lage zu versetzen, hierdurch zu scheinen,

    mindestens ein Draht der ersten Leselampe (60) sich durch die mittleren Öffnungen (56a, 101) in dem Gehäuse (54) und in dem Paneel (56) erstreckt, und

    die in dem Gehäuse (54) positionierte Kabinenbeleuchtung (62) konfiguriert ist, um Licht allgemein aufwärts und durch den oberen Gehäuseabschnitt (64) zu lenken.


     
    12. Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (77) nach Anspruch 11, bei welcher der Lichtkranz (89) und der obere Gehäuseabschnitt (64) zusammenarbeiten, um einen Lichttunnel (97) innerhalb des Gehäuseinneren (59) zu definieren, wobei die Kabinenbeleuchtung (62) im Lichttunnel (97) positioniert ist.
     
    13. Luftfahrzeug, Folgendes beinhaltend:

    eine Kabine, welche mindestens einen hierin positionierten Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Kanal (50) besitzt, wobei der Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Kanal (50) Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Schienen (70b) beinhaltet, welche sich entlang des Kanals erstrecken, und

    Fahrgastdiensteinheit-Gondelanordnung (58, 77) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei welcher das Gehäuse (54) allgemein unterhalb des Paneels (56) positioniert ist, wobei die Verbinder (70a) mit den Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Schienen (70b) in einer Weise verbunden sind, dass das Paneel (56) unterhalb des Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Kanals (50) positioniert ist.


     
    14. Luftfahrzeug nach Anspruch 13 in Abhängigkeit von Anspruch 11, bei welchem das Gehäuse (54) eine obere Öffnung (101) darin umfasst, und wobei der mindestens eine Draht sich von der ersten Leselampe (60) durch die obere Öffnung (101) und die mittlere Öffnung (56a) und in den Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Kanal (56) erstreckt.
     
    15. Luftfahrzeug nach Anspruch 13, bei welchem das Gehäuse (54) mindestens eine hierin definierte Entlüftungsöffnung umfasst, wobei die Entlüftungsöffnung in Luftstromkommunikation mit einer in dem Fahrgastdiensteinheits-Kanal (50) definierten Leitung (88) steht.
     


    Revendications

    1. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) configuré afin d'être positionné à l'intérieur d'un avion, l'ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) comprenant :
    un module d'unité de service personnelle (52, 76) qui inclut :

    un logement (54) qui inclut un ensemble optique (64) et définit un intérieur de module (59),

    au moins une première lumière de lecture (60) positionnée à l'intérieur du module (59) et configurée afin de faire passer de la lumière sous le fond du logement (54),

    un éclairage de cabine (62) positionné dans le logement (54) et configuré afin de faire passer de la lumière à travers l'ensemble optique (64) et au-dessus du logement, et

    un halogène lumineux (89) fixé à l'intérieur du module (59), dans lequel l'éclairage de cabine (62) est installé sur l'halogène lumineux (89) ; et

    un panneau (56, 117) positionné directement au-dessus et fixé au module d'unité de service personnelle (52, 76), dans lequel le panneau (56, 117) inclut des connecteurs (70a) qui sont configurés afin de fixer l'ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) à un composant dans l'avion.


     
    2. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'halogène lumineux (89) et l'ensemble optique (64) coopèrent afin de définir un tunnel lumineux (97) à l'intérieur du module (59) et dans lequel l'éclairage de cabine (62) est positionné.
     
    3. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel l'ensemble optique (64) comprend une section orientée généralement de manière verticale (64a) et une section orientée généralement de manière horizontale (64b).
     
    4. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel l'halogène lumineux (89) comprend une pluralité de supports (92) qui s'adaptent à des supports (93) sur le panneau (56) et des supports et/ou ouvertures dans le logement (54).
     
    5. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le logement (54) inclut une cavité de soufflerie (78), et dans lequel au moins une soufflerie (66) est positionnée dans la cavité de soufflerie (78).
     
    6. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le logement (54) inclut une ouverture de lumière de lecture (54a) définie dans le fond de celui-ci, et dans lequel la première lumière de lecture (60) est alignée avec l'ouverture de lumière de lecture (54a) et configurée afin de faire passer de la lumière à travers celle-ci.
     
    7. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (77) selon la revendication 6, dans lequel une lunette (80) est associée à l'ouverture de lumière de lecture (54a), et dans lequel un commutateur (82) qui actionne la première lumière de lecture (60) est positionnée dans la lunette (80).
     
    8. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le panneau (56) inclut une ouverture centrale (56a) définie à travers lui, dans lequel au moins un fil s'étend depuis la première lumière de lecture (60) à travers l'ouverture (56a) et au-dessus du panneau (56).
     
    9. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (77) selon la revendication 8, dans lequel un canal orienté vers le bas (98) s'étend au moins partiellement autour de l'ouverture centrale (56a) et dans lequel l'ensemble optique (64) inclut une bride (99) s'étendant vers le haut à partir de celui-ci, qui est reçue et fixée dans le canal (98).
     
    10. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'éclairage de cabine (62) est une bande de LED qui s'étend généralement autour de la lumière de lecture (60).
     
    11. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (77) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel :

    le logement (54) inclut une partie de logement inférieure (100) et une partie de logement supérieure (64) qui coopèrent afin de définir un intérieur de logement (59), dans lequel la partie de logement supérieure (64) inclut une ouverture centrale (101) définie à l'intérieur et est configurée afin de permettre à la lumière de passer à travers elle,

    au moins un fil provenant de la première lumière de lecture (60) s'étend à travers les ouvertures centrales (56a, 101) dans le logement (54) et le panneau (56), et

    l'éclairage de cabine (62) positionné dans le logement (54) est configuré afin de diriger la lumière généralement vers le haut et à travers la partie de logement supérieure (64).


     
    12. Ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (77) selon la revendication 11, dans lequel l'halogène lumineux (89) et la partie de logement supérieure (64) coopèrent afin de définir un tunnel lumineux (97) dans l'intérieur de logement (59), dans lequel l'éclairage de cabine (62) est positionné dans le tunnel lumineux (97).
     
    13. Avion comprenant :

    une cabine présentant au moins un canal d'unité de service personnelle (50), positionné à l'intérieur, dans lequel le canal d'unité de service personnelle (50) inclut des rails d'unité de service personnelle (70b) s'étendant le long de celui-ci, et

    un ensemble module d'unité de service personnelle (58, 77) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le logement (54) est généralement positionné sous le panneau (56), dans lequel les connecteurs (70a) sont connectés aux rails d'unité de service personnelle (70b) de sorte que le panneau (56) soit positionné sous le canal d'unité de service personnelle (50).


     
    14. Avion selon la revendication 13, qui dépend de la revendication 11, dans lequel le logement (54) inclut une ouverture supérieure (101) à l'intérieur, et dans lequel le au moins un fil s'étend depuis la première lumière de lecture (60) à travers l'ouverture supérieure (101) et l'ouverture centrale (56a) et dans le canal d'unité de service personnelle (56).
     
    15. Avion selon la revendication 13, dans lequel le logement (54) inclut une ouverture de ventilation définie à l'intérieur, dans lequel l'ouverture de ventilation est en communication par flux d'air avec un conduit (88) positionné dans le canal d'unité de service personnelle (50).
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description