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For the past three years, the industry has been hiding a dove in its top hat. It was just set free to fly.
Interior components manufacturer, Jamco, Japan, and JPA Design, London, have revealed a new “DoveTail” Business class seat which ticks all the airlines’ boxes for cabin space optimization and cost savings, while respecting the needs of premium passengers for privacy, comfort, and control.
To ensure passengers flying the DoveTail feel they got their money’s worth, the designers and manufacturer went through a number of iterations, testing the reactions of passengers who participated in trials, and making the changes required until they hit a sweet spot.
“Throughout this process and to get the design absolutely right, we have built a series of mock-ups, honed the ergonomics with subjects from around the world, refining elements on feedback,” Ben Orson, Managing Director of JPA Design explains.
The sweet spot, they believe, is somewhere between full separation and a more social setting—which is what the DoveTail provides. With its sliding privacy screens, passengers can chose to engage with their travel companions, or to be left alone. Every passenger gets the pre-requisite aisle-access of today’s premium seating, and the seat’s curved shell makes the space feel light.
Premium passengers get the goodies they expect: storage, a suitable table to work and dine, LED reading lights, in seat power, modern in-flight entertainment features like an 18.5” screen, USB and HDMI ports, and a wedge shelf which could hold high-tech features like inductive charging of electronic devices and touch-surface seat controls, but for now is a nice spot to place personal items.
Passengers would get a 43” pitch, 21.5” seat width with a 21” wide ottoman to rest their feet. The lay-flat setting stretches out to a 78” long bed.
Airlines could use storage space at the back and front of the seat rows for a fitting room, welcome area, or to hold an integrated baby basinet.
Designed to Sell
Beyond allowing airlines to install more seats, the DoveTail is a simple and lightweight assembly which requires fewer spare parts, keeping maintenance costs low. For airlines, these are strong selling points.
The value of another experienced components manufacturer competing in a sector where supplier consolidation has caused critical program delays cannot be understated. This also benefits passengers, indirectly. Competition promotes innovation.
Jamco’s Assistant Manager of Global Sales, Nao Sato, isn’t shy about pointing out this advantage.
“Jamco are eager to expand our business within the field of premium seating products,” he says. “Our core aim was to develop the seat with a cross-platform implementation in mind, in order we offer the seats on various wide body aircraft currently in the market.”
What’s more, the manufacturer welcomes customization, letting airlines differentiate to reflect their brand, rather than fly a cookie-cutter copy of a catalogue product, as seen on a competitor’s aircraft wearing a different dress.
The DoveTail can even be reshaped as a self-contained unit for airlines whose customers value privacy above community.
The pitch is working. Jamco indicates it is already “in advanced discussions with undisclosed airlines.”
After its three-year development period, the timing for the DoveTail reveal couldn’t be better. The cabin crunch has moved forward to Business class and there’s no going back. Many airlines have moved to a two-class cabin, which demands fitting more seats up front. The revenue benefits of more high-ticket customers on each aircraft are irresistible. If passenger numbers more than double by 2034, and global passenger load factors remain near 79.7%, as reported by IATA, there’s no incentive for airlines to remove seats.
Though not free to mention the DoveTail hidden up his sleeve at the time, Ben Orson, Managing Director of JPA Design, gave attendees at Skift’s Global Forum the heads-up on this trend, which he referred to as the rise of 3D seating. The DoveTail, with its nested configuration, is an optimized 3D seat.
Business class today is not only popular but populous. As passengers, we’d best make our peace with that and take comfort in the DoveTail’s pretty, soft feathers.