With the recent news that Boeing is planning to squeeze 200 passengers into its high capacity 737 Max 8 that will hit the skies in 2017, I got to thinking about the general unpleasantness of air travel in general. With that in mind, here is a look at a new patent from the European Patent Office:
Yes, the engineers at AirBus Operations have designed and patented a standing seat for airplane passengers that looks to be most akin to a bicycle seat. The seating surface folds down when not in use, maximizing space. AirBus describes it as an invention that:
"…relates to a seating device with reduced bulk, for example for an aircraft. In the aeronautical sector, some so-called "low-cost" airlines seek to increase the number of passengers transported on each flight, and more particularly on short-haul links, in order to maximize the return on the use of the aircraft. To that end, and by using the same aircraft or an aircraft of similar capacity, the number of seats in the cabin must be increased. In all cases, this increase in the number of seats is achieved to the detriment of the comfort of passengers. In effect, to increase the number of cabin seats, the space allotted to each passenger must be reduced. However, this reduced comfort remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours." (my bold)
AirBus goes on to note that seating width is already at its minimum (particularly true given the increasing average heft of many passengers) and that it is not possible to further reduce seat width. As well, it is not possible to increase the number of seats by reducing the distance between two seats since leg room is already at an uncomfortably low level given that many passengers are somewhat over 5 feet 2 inches tall. To that end, AirBus proposes to reduce the overall bulk of the seat itself. While this is a fine idea, with the increased seating density, the ability of passengers to access non-aisle seats from the aisle. Once again, the wise minds at AirBus leap to the rescue and have created a seat with reduced bulk that retracts, allowing for wider access to non-aisle seats.
On this diagram, you can see how the system works when the seats are placed in rows:
Please notice that on the top sketch, there is a row of seats located between the two gentlemen. This is reminiscent of the standing airplane seats designed by Italy's Aviointeriors back in 2010:
It may just be me, but don't the AirBus seats make the Aviointerior seats with their 23 inches of leg room look like first class seating by comparison?
As if flying weren't a miserable enough adventure already. Now that "few hours" could be spent in absolute misery.
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