Pitch Aircraft Seating Systems has unveiled a concept for what it believes is the “world’s thinnest aircraft seat” that it plans to showcase at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
Utilising sustainable bio-resins in a compression moulding process to create a seat weighing just over 7 kg, the ‘Q Ultra-Slim’ concept offers an ultra-lightweight, slimline solution.
The concept was co-developed as part of a grant funded project through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) in pursuit of innovative technologies to benefit the aviation sector. Pitch collaborated on the project with industrial design consultancy Design Q, and composite manufacturing and advanced engineering specialists Cecence with additional support from SHD Composite Materials, Wavelength NDT and Plyable.
“By using composite compression moulding, we can manufacture incredibly light yet strong, single piece seats from more sustainable raw materials,” explained Chief Designer for Pitch Aircraft Seating, Gary Doy. “The fitment is compatible with Pitch’s existing PF3000 frame, delivering optimum flexibility and an upgraded cushion system ensures a high level of comfort.”
Doy added: “This collaborative project challenges future aircraft cabin design and inflight service, as well as seating, so it’s truly innovative and potentially controversial but this is an important part of helping the industry improve its environmental credentials,”
By substituting aluminium structural seat components with Fire Smoke Toxicity compliant composite material, Pitch claims a short-haul Airbus A320 could reduce its operating weight by a minimum of 500 kg through the replacement of existing economy shipsets with ‘Q Ultra-Slim’ seats.
In order to achieve the ultra-slimline design, the traditional tray table was removed with the option of integrated cup and smartphone holders in its place.
“It is a very believable concept because it is based on our seat product, but we want to put it out there and see the reactions as people perceive comfort in a certain way – generally if there is a big thick seat they think its comfortable, where if it is a thin seat they think it is less comfortable,” Doy tells Inflight. “We made it as comfortable as a thick seat and we know we can make it strong, but there is a perception we will have to deal with in the marketplace.”
Comparing the experience of a short-haul flight with taking a two-hour bus or train journey, Doy suggests not everyone requires a tray table – particularly if there is no meal service.
He said: “Over 10 years ago Pitch and Design Q said to the marketplace; ‘Why do you need to have reclining seats, because not everybody reclines?’ We’re taking this to the next stage to suggest why a tray table is needed if not everybody uses them.
“When you question this, you create other solutions in the aircraft as well. If you don’t need the galley, you could potentially put another larger lavatory in the back which will cater for passengers with reduced mobility – another way of using that space,” he continues.
The designer believes there could be another class of seating on low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers, creating more flexibility for airlines and greater choice for passengers.
The company will also be bringing a premium concept to AIX, the ‘Q premium’ concept which converts the middle seat in a row into a wide centre console.
David Rice, VP Sales and Marketing for Pitch, added: “We’re allowing airlines to differentiate across the cabin on one aircraft, offering a standard product and providing variations on that, enabling a much bigger marketplace for the same aircraft.”