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Wed, May 17, 2006

German Design Firm Proposes 'Theater-Style' Airliner Seats

Overpriced Popcorn, Sticky Cabin Floor Optional

by ANN Associate Editor Rob Finfrock

It could be the next big innovation for airline seating, one that could allow easier boarding and reduced cases of deep-vein thrombosis on long-haul flights. At least, that's what Germany's AIDA Industrial Design says about its new flip-up, theater-style seats for passenger planes.

"The Foldable Passenger Seat was developed to provide maximum living space even at low seat pitches by a unique design with a foldable seat pan," the company says on its website. "This outstanding feature is possible due to an innovative design of the main seat structure with its single beam made of composite material."

According to AIDA -- which lists Airbus, Eurocopter, and Recaro Aircraft Seating among its clients -- the foldable seats now under design consideration would provide nearly three times the room for a passenger to stand, allowing passengers to stretch and relax during a long flight, or use the folded seat as a "sit-stand" leaning seat (uh oh... shades of Airbus's rejected "Meathook Class" there.)

The company says this configuration would be an ideal way to prevent DVT on longer flights. No word, however, on how passengers would be able to stand comfortably upright under the overhanging baggage compartments.

AIDA also says the flip-up seats could decrease aircraft boarding and turnaround times.

"The Foldable Passenger Seat affects important components of turnaround times. The new boarding situation means, that travellers can move directly into the seat row to stow their hand luggaage without blocking the aisle. Passengers behind them can pass without delay. This results in an improved boarding and disembarking time."

It's not hard to see how that would be true... but I also remember the last theater I was in (for a dollar-movie... do you think we get paid enough to see first-run movies? Please... we're still waiting for "The Aviator" to be released on Beta.) The seats weren't exactly luxurious...

Of course, the same is true for the last commercial airliner flight I was on... in fact, I could barely stand it (sorry.) So, maybe these seats would be an improvement. AIDA is currently working on the prototype configuration... so we could see seats like these in the not-too-distant future.

FMI: www.aida-development.de/en_html/competences/index_idesign.htm

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