This story is produced in partnership with PaxEx.Aero - The Business of Passenger Experience
Is there such a thing as a comfortable airline seat pitched at 28 inches? Scant few passengers would answer that question in the affirmative today, but airlines continue to push for such densification of the cabin. In response to that demand aircraft seating manufacturers are getting creative. The new seats are thinner than ever, with minor tweaks to the geometry to make a 28″ option feel not completely abusive. That might not sound like much, but it will matter a lot as these new cabin layouts take flight.
Mirus entered the aircraft seating market with a huge splash in 2016, announcing a deal to install the Hawk seat on AirAsia’s A320 family of aircraft. The seats have been flying for a year now and the company recently secured a second airline customer in TUI Group. Now Mirus is looking to expand from LCC to ULCC with Kestrel, a concept seat developed in under three months and shown off at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2019 in Hamburg earlier this month.
The Kestrel seat is made from carbon fiber like the other Mirus products. This gives is a huge advantage in terms of weight and strength relative to the space it takes up. Industry giant Recaro focused on shedding another kilogram from its SL3710 seat unveiled at the show, dropping it to 8kg per passenger.The Mirus Kestrel beats that number.
It is a fixed-recline arrangement and sits slightly higher than a typical economy class seat. Thanks to a creative design it boasts an increase in underseat storage as well.
Most importantly, however, is that even with a 28″ pitch most passengers won’t have their knees crammed into the row ahead of them. With the thinner seat structure and padding the Kestrel really does leave space, even for travelers over six feet tall.
Acro Series 6
Mirus was not alone at the show with seats designed for the tight squeeze. Acro showed off its Series 6 design in a similar configuration. The Acro Series 6 is also built from a composite shell, abandoning the aluminum frame to save weight and increase space available to passengers. The company suggests that passengers as tall as 6′ 3″ can fit in at a 28″ pitch without their knees touching the row ahead.
The seatback curves gently around the passenger’s behind creating a bucket shape that creates an ergonomically correct shape and which unlocks living space at knee level.
While Mirus is focused on delivering the Kestrel in a limited configuration that minimizes weight and maintenance challenges the Acro Series 6 includes features like a recline mechanism and even an option to mount an embedded entertainment screen.
Presumably airlines willing to invest in that level of comfort might also choose a seat that delivers more space and a more comfortable experience for multiple hours in the air. But maybe not.
Italian seat manufacturer Geven‘s Essenza seat came to market four years ago at the 2015 AIX event and is now flying with flyNAS. Unlike the newer models the Essenza seat keeps an aluminum frame, though it still manages to deliver a 28″ seating pitch that leaves some knee room for most passengers. Wizz Air, Interjet and Lufthansa Group also signed on to install the product.
As one of the more mature products in the ultra-dense seating market the Geven Essenza seat offers multiple options for in-seat power (USB or 110V) compared to the USB only on Acro and Mirus. Geven also offers a Eurobiz middle seat tray, tablet holders and varying headrest configurations. The default setup is a fixed recline while an adjustable option also exists.
A bonus entrant in the competition for ultra-dense seating, the SkyRider is a decade-old concept that will almost certainly never fly. It disappeared for a while after its 2010 introduction but is back again, updated slightly in 2018 and again this year. The tweaks appear mostly cosmetic, however, and don’t change the fact that certification authorities are highly unlikely to approve the design for commercial air travel.
Alas, the shock value of the 23″ pitch and saddle seat design continues to attract attention and media coverage. It is a shame, really. SKyRider dominates reporting from AIX because of that shock value, the ability to drive clicks out of passenger rage. It detracts from real innovation in the market, products that are poised to actually fly.
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