Last updated: 03:31 PM ET, Wed April 22 2015

Could More Comfortable Airline Seats Be On The Way?

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | April 22, 2015

Could More Comfortable Airline Seats Be On The Way?

PHOTO: Thompson Aero Seating has designed a staggered version of its Cozy Suites seating that offers more room. (Courtesy of Thompson Aero Seating)

Is there a more comfortable airline seat in our future?

Japan’s All Nippon Airways and Toyota Boshoku Corp., a division of Toyota Motors, have teamed up to develop new economy class seats. The seats will appear on ANA’s domestic service beginning in June. The collaboration marks the first time for Toyota Boshoku being involved in the development and manufacturing of aircraft seats. The company already makes seats for Toyota’s automobile line.

By next year, ANA plans to have installed a total of 1,560 seats across six Boeing 767-300 aircraft as well.

It isn’t so much a change in seat width – that’s staying at 17.5 inches – as much as seat design.

According to ANA, the new seat was ergonomically developed for comfort across a wide range of body sizes and types, based on Toyota Boshoku’s experience designing seats for compact, luxury and racing cars. Based on the idea that support is key to a passenger’s comfort, the seat is structured to limit muscle fatigue around the hip and maintain a relaxing posture by firmly supporting the pelvis. The height, length and angle of the seat and backrest were designed to evenly distribute pressure on the body and accommodate any body structure.

The design and position of the tray tables and armrests were achieved through a range of tests accounting for multiple angles to determine ideal height and natural contour to accommodate for a variety of body types. The rounded edges of the headrest provide a sense of openness that widens the passenger’s field of view.

And that’s not all.

Irish company Thompson Aero Seating has designed a staggered version of its Cozy Suites seating so that it can be implemented in economy and premium economy classes.

The three seats are not aligned with each other as in traditional row seating, allowing for space to get out – especially in the middle seat – as well as your own armrests and a curved headrest design that allows passengers to take a snooze without spilling onto their fellow seatmates.

This is good news given that French aircraft manufacturer Airbus said it will offer airlines a new seat configuration on its popular A380 planes that features 11 seats across instead of 10. Despite what is expected to be a serious backlash from passengers who are already feel squeezed from shrinking seats – and despite Emirates Airlines withdrawing support for the idea even though the carrier was the first to suggest such an arrangement – Airbus told reporters at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Germany that the new seating configuration will be available as early as 2017.


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