Skift Take

We can only hope that airlines will use the force of these optimized designs for the greater good--to upgrade affordably and not to down-grade for cost-cutting. Time will tell.

Passengers dreading crowded seats in crowded cabins of budget-conscious airlines (large and small) might find comfort in a new Premium seat design revealed by aircraft interiors underdog Acro Aircraft Seating, UK.

Or not.

One of the last of the great independents in what has become a very consolidated industry, Acro has grown its business by providing a practical, economical and comfortable alternative for airlines for airlines eager to maintain balance between the light-side of passenger well-being and the dark-side of cabin economics.

The new Acro Premium seat concept is optimised at 48″ wide for a double with 2.5″ armrest and can be pitched at 34″ (compared to competitors 38″) while still allowing sufficient space to exit the row according to the aircraft manufacturer’s requirements.

A Premium seat option which can accommodate a denser cabin may not sound attractive to passengers who imagine the premium cabin as the last bastion of defense against the rise of the evil aviation cookie-cutter cabin empire. This is a valid point of view, and a 34″ pitch in premium kind of takes the ‘premium’ out of the equation.

But there is another point of view.

Many budget conscious airlines are currently only flying one-class configurations on medium haul flights, with crowded economy seats. Some offer a “premium” seating option that is little more than the same economy seat with more legroom. Acro is providing those airlines with a third option of a seat designed around the same thinking as a traditional Business class seat, but in a solution that is more affordable and practical in their cabin space planning.

Each passenger has a side console for storage of all the little things we bring on board, which also helps to separate us from our seating companions, a single leaf table for work or meals, and the seat can be tailored to accommodate other passenger experience such as in-flight entertainment screens.

For those airlines which might fear taking a step as bold as JetBlue’s Mint Premium offering, but still want to offer passengers a differentiated option worthy of a higher fare, the Acro Premium seat is an attractive option.

It’s not all about Premium, though. Acro has also designed a new Economy class seat which eliminates the aluminium frame of existing seat designs and uses composite construction instead. This makes the seat light-weight–a major selling point for airlines–and was shaped to accommodate passengers’ bodies more comfortably.

Both products were designed in conjunction with Factorydesign, London, responsible for a number of creative cabin innovations, and a member of Etihad’s Design Consortium which was responsible for the airline’s new Reimagined cabin experience. This consortium developed and certified a number of innovations to enhance the passenger experience which will ultimately will benefit the field design in this sector for all manufacturers and airlines.

We expect many more innovations like this at this year’s Aircraft Interiors EXPO in Hamburg. As Executive Vice President, Cameron Allan says when explaining the push to develop new products which compete with the offerings of larger suppliers: “In the aircraft industry, standing still is the same as going backwards.” While aviation may sometimes crawl sideways, neither Acro nor the aircraft interiors industry is standing still.


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Tags: airlines, aix, amenities, in-flight

Photo credit: This new slim double seat could help airlines add a Premium cabin without paying (or charging) a premium for it/FCMedia M.G. / FCMedia

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