Paris Air Show

Expliseat Presents ‘Titanium’ Super-Light Seat

 - June 18, 2013, 2:20 AM
Benjamin Saada, president (standing), and Jean-Charles Samuelian, managing director, are among the founders of Expliseat, a French start-up designing lightweight economy-class aircraft seats.

Expliseat (Hall 4 Stand F146), a Paris-based start-up company, is here (in the French SME pavilion) with a new economy-class seat designed to drastically cut weight and complexity. Dubbed Titanium, it weighs 8.8 pounds per passenger–a 50-percent saving, Expliseat claims. This may translate into an estimated 3- to 5-percent fuel saving, or $300,000 to $500,000, per aircraft per year.

Titanium is offered as a three-seat row assembly. The structure uses titanium and composite materials for a lighter and more straightforward design. According to its promoters, the part count has been reduced to 30, down from 500 for a conventional seat.

Expliseat has no factory and relies on various Toulouse-based firms that will put the seats together. Most parts come from French suppliers, the company said. It targets equipping 100 to 200 aircraft per year, starting this year. The Titanium seat has been designed for narrowbodies like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 family.

To combine simplicity and comfort, the fixed backrest has been “pre-reclined” by 18 degrees. It is just two-inches thick, its “technical textile” able to absorb shocks from the knees and fists of fellow passengers behind. Expliseat partnered with Iffstar, a French research center specializing in transport technologies. As a result, the design of the seat back structure “reduces inter-vertebra shocks,” the company said.

With a 29-inch seat pitch (found on Easyjet aircraft, for example), knee room was evaluated by Iffstar, and averaged 3.4 inches. No tray table appears on the seat’s back in its basic version. As a matter of comparison, Recaro’s SL3510 seat–the lightest in the German manufacturer’s line–weighs 20 pounds and also has a fixed “pre-reclined” position but includes a tray table.

Expliseat has applied for a “design organization approval,” under EASA’s rules. The certification process started in October 2011. It is to be completed this year, according to the company’s plans. Asked about certification rules for seats, the EASA gave details on testing.

According to the EASA, dynamic testing is key for a seat to be certified. Among other trials, “the original seat, including seat belt, has to be tested dynamically with a specified load peak of 16g in the forward direction.” The load peak in the downward direction should be 14g.

Testing has to be performed with a calibrated anthropomorphic test dummy (ATD). It is usually done on a test sled. The seat has to show integrity within a range of maximum allowable deformations and must stay on the seat tracks. The ATD needs to stay on the seat and certain injury criteria would have to be met. For example, the compressive spine load is measured in 14g down testing.

The Titanium’s price is said to be “average” on the marketplace.

Company president Benjamin Saada, managing director Jean-Charles Samuelian and chief technical officer Vincent Tejedor founded the company in 2011. They were trained in France’s top engineering schools and their previous jobs have given them expertise in industrial production, investment and scientific research, respectively. Among the shareholders is Christian Streiff, a former Airbus CEO, they pointed out.