Airbus and Layer create new Passenger Seat
Could be an answer to the COMPLAINTS?
Could obviate Congressionally mandated Minimums
Existing FAA performance-based standards could suffice
Oh, if Congress knew, it appears that technology and competition would provide a solution to airline seat size! There was considerable controversy, and even litigation, about the safety of seats—their pitch, width and length.
Legislation enacted on October 5, 2019 mandated that the FAA set standards assuring “safety of passengers”. Congress ignored that the existing performance-based standards prove safety by testing rather than a priori dimensions.
This new seat design may obviate the need for section 577 regulations?
February 28, 2019
We’ve seen some truly horrific airplane seating suggestions over the past few years, but things are beginning to look a little brighter for economy passengers. Over the past 18 months, Benjamin Hubert, founder of strategic design agency LAYER, has collaborated with Airbus to create a seating concept straight from a sci-fi movie. The prototype (titled “Move” and specifically designed for shorter flights) uses smart textiles that adapt to each person’s specific needs, and passengers can monitor factors like temperature and seat tension using the Move app on their phones. Welcome to the future, my friends.
The magic behind Move lies within the lightweight seat covers. According to a LAYER press release, the covers are digitally knitted and connected to a series of sensors. Throughout the flight, the airplane seats automatically adjust to each passenger’s weight, size, and movement to maintain ideal ergonomic comfort. The passengers can then make additional adjustments on the Move app, which can be used to engage different seat modes, including “massage,” “mealtime,” and “sleep.” The app will also communicate with the passengers, reminding them to do in-seat stretches, stay properly hydrated, and move around the cabin to improve circulation. To make things even easier, each seat back has a central island containing a tray table, screen, and storage for digital devices (the better to see the app, my dear).
Move obviously benefits the individual, but the prototype considers the bigger picture, too. On a plane-sized scale, the seats eliminate some of the most annoying issues that arise in economy class—a land rife with seatmate squabbles and legroom anxiety. The seats have a lot of flexibility in terms of comfort and pressure points, but the seat positions are fixed, which means the person in front of you can’t recline and cramp your legroom during the flight. Speaking of legroom, the tray tables are height adjustable (yes!) and can fold in and out to provide different workspaces. The armrests are completely stowable, meaning couples or groups can turn their seats into a bench for primo cuddling.
Then, there’s the issue of storage space. The preconfigured seat positions leave more room for under-seat storage, and there is a special slot for laptops between the seats. (Even better? The Move app will send you a notification if your device is still in the pocket after landing.) On a global scale, Move’s airplane seats are way better for the environment than the padded traditional seats we usually see: The lightweight materials reduce the overall weight of the aircraft, resulting in significantly lower fuel costs; the textiles also reduce the amount of less-sustainable foam materials.
Call us superficial, but these seats just look cooler; more like fancy office chairs than an overstuffed college dorm futon. The removable seat covers mean airlines can update the patterns and colors (and, you know, actually wash them regularly). We also love how the seat numbers are printed clearly across the headrests—a detail that not only looks impressive, but lowers the chance of awkward seating assignment mixups.
This isn’t the first time the air travel industry has toyed around with the prospect of making economy class more bearable. Delta announced plans to serve three-course meals to passengers in the back of the plane last year, while manufacturers Boeing and Airbus refurbished their cabins with larger overhead bins. But overall, it seems like airlines tend to choose lower ticket prices over comfort levels—even if it means cutting a few inches of legroom. That’s what makes this Move prototype so exciting: It’s like the neglected downstairs of Downton Abbey finally, finally getting an extreme home makeover.
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