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radically reduce the part count and weight
of premium seating.
Weight-reduction is a major focus of
activity for Recaro Aircraft Seating, which is
concentrating on economy and business-
class products. Earlier this year Air France
launched the Smart Line 3510, which was
jointly developed by Recaro and the French
Weighing just 9.1kg, the Smart Line
3510 is the lightest economy-class seat in
the market -- more than 5kg lighter than
conventional seat models. At the same
time, it o ers more legroom and comfort
than competing products, according to the
Weight savings were achieved by using
innovative materials, such as netting in the
aluminium frame which adapts to the contour
of the passenger s spine, says Echkard Behnert,
Recaro s director of product group management.
The seat is 40 percent lighter than competing
products, which equates to a 1,700 tonne
reduction in fuel burn per annum and a 5,200
tonne drop in carbon dioxide emissions,
according to Air France. The seat, which is aimed
at short-range flights of up to four hours, is
gradually being introduced on Air France s single-
aisle Airbus A320 family aircraft eets.
The Smart Line 3510 follows earlier economy-
class seat innovations by Recaro, in the form of
the Comfort Line 3620, designed for ultra-long
range ights up to 20 hours. The 3620 is based
on unique, single-beam technology rather than
the traditional two support beams.
"This gives the seat a much leaner profile,
signi cantly increases legroom and lets economy-
class passengers enjoy maximum living space on
long-haul ights -- even with a relatively short seat
pitch," says Behnert. The exible material in the
headrest, the foot net, the ultra-thin backrest and
other innovations all add up to "an exceptionally
comfortable experience", he adds.
The modular design brings with it reduced
complexity and the innovative mounting concept
helps reduce weight, he says.
Much "greener" concepts will be a feature in
aircraft seating over the next decade, Behnert
predicts. In addition, he predicts easier and lighter
in- ight entertainment (IFE) for passenger seats,
an area in which Recaro is already working with
IFE manufacturer Panasonic (see separate feature,
But lowering weight is only one focus, says
Behnert. "As aircraft-seat designers, our focus is
on the magic triangle of weight, comfort and
increasing passenger living space. All three of
these factors play an important strategic role in
the highly competitive air-travel market. Airlines
are demanding lighter seats. At the same time,
they want to give passengers more living space
and added comfort. And they also have high
expectations when it comes to seat durability.
Their focus is on the cost of a seat across its entire
lifecycle," he says.
The di erent options within the "magic triangle"
will be a focus of Recaro s at the Aircraft Interiors
Expo in Hamburg, says Behnert.
"We will be presenting a number of innovations
at the trade show, including seat models o ering
more comfort in economy class and premium
economy class. We will also be showing business-
class products that bridge the gap between
maximum privacy and optimal space utilisation
-- in a lightweight package," he adds.
Elements more traditionally reserved for
premium cabins are slowly filtering back to
economy class, with long-haul operators
attempting to make sleep more comfortable for
economy travellers. Even low-cost carriers are
getting in on the act, with AirAsia X, for example,
becoming the rst low-cost carrier in the world to
o er lie- at seats.
The airline s new premium cabin features 20-
inch wide seats, with a 60-inch pitch and a length
of 77-inches in full recline. The upgrade slashes
the number of premium seats the airline o ers
A340, but the move was made in response to
Air New Zealand (ANZ) is also trying to help
passengers sleep with its recently launched
lie- at economy Skycouch seat and premium-
The airline revealed prototype designs of the
seats at the beginning of this year in a full-scale
Boeing 777-300 cabin at its design innovation
centre in Auckland. The seats are due to
feature on the airline s new 777-300ERs,
due for delivery from November, and will be
retro tted on the airline s 777-200 eet next
year, with all Asian, North American and UK
services to have the product by 2012.
The Skycouch is a specially designed row
of three seats engineered to create a lie-
at, exible space to the seatback in front.
It provides both a place for children to play
and"the holy grail of economy travel" -- a at
surface for adults to relax and sleep. Some 22
seats of Skycouch seats will be available on
the 777-300ERs in the rst 11 window rows
in the economy class cabin. For two adults
travelling, the purchase price will be based
on two seats at standard prices, with the
third at approximately half price. The seats were
due to go on sale from late April.
Recaro has been licensed by ANZ to market and
sell the Skycouch, which is expected to be shown
at the Aircraft Interiors show
"In the next step we are going to develop a
marketing concept together with ANZ in order
to promote the seat," says Recaro s Behnert.
The Spaceseat, meanwhile, has been licensed
to Contour, and is also expected to make an
appearance in Hamburg.
The new seats are just two of a number of new
products and service innovations that ANZ has
lined up for its 777s. Luxurious, chalk-coloured
leather premium seating, deep ink colours and
mood lighting will provide an interior look more
akin to a private jet than a commercial airliner,
says the airline.
Design ideas also extend to small but signi cant
comfort innovations, it says, pointing to a slip-
on pillow over winged headrests in economy
to avoid the awkwardness of loose pillows and
remove the need for neck cushions; and a new,
bean-bag style foot cushion dubbed the Otto in
A number of other seating innovations on the
drawing board are also aimed at helping long-
haul passengers sleep. Many of these concepts are
based on the unused vertical space in the cabin.
US company Mmillenniumm Group, for example,
has developed the AirSleeper two-tiered seating
concept, which provides lie- at beds by adopting
a bunk-like design, stacking one above the other.
The key design considerations were
uncompromised safety, aiding sleep and boosting
profitability, says Dr Arjuna I Rajasingham,
Mmillenniumm s chairman and chief executive.
Certi cation requirements
The design began by considering the dynamics
of the human body under rapid acceleration
conditions to allow the seat to withstand the
AsianAviation | MAY 2010 21
JPA's Cirrus seat, based on a reverse herringbone design,
has been launched by US Airways.
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