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Airbus: Airliners May Be Too Comfortable

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Airbus has filed a patent application for a bicycle-style seat that allows passengers to ride their airliners in semi-standing position, allowing more bodies to be shoehorned into its airplanes. Recognizing that modern airline passengers will endure almost any indignity in return for cheap fares, the design calls for seats that look like old-style, wide bicycle saddles mounted on a thick, horizontal bar. The seats would fold up when not in use. The design drawings depict a rudimentary, small, low backrest and narrow arm rests. No restraint system is shown, leading to questions as to how Airbus would propose to keep passengers from jackknifing into the seat and supporting bar in front of them during even relatively low G deceleration.

There is speculation that the Airbus patent filing is a response to the 2012 attempt by RyanAir to get approval for flights with “standing-room only” passengers in space opened up by removing the last ten rows of seats—while providing no restraint system of any sort to those passengers. According to Business Insider, Airbus recognized the seating would be uncomfortable, admitting as such in the patent filing. In the filing, it stated, “[To maximize financial returns on aircraft for low-cost airlines], the number of seats in a cabin must be increased, to the detriment of the comfort of passengers. However, this reduced comfort is tolerable for passengers in as much as the flight lasts one or a few hours.” The filing did not, apparently, address comfort for passengers stuck on board during long ramp and taxiway delays due to weather and ATC overload.

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