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UTC Rolls Out Smart Seat with Its Own Microclimate

 - November 16, 2013, 10:00 AM

UTC Aerospace Systems is introducing a business aircraft seat that it believes will set a new standard in cabin ergonomics. It features wireless technology to allow passengers to control the seat itself as well as wide array of cabin management features including climate, connectivity, lighting and entertainment systems. Travelers in the Model 1 seat will effectively be able to create a microclimate in which the temperature is adjusted to their personal preference without causing discomfort to fellow passengers.

According to the company, which was formed last year to encompass UTC’s acquisition of Goodrich and its existing Hamilton Sundstrand business, the new seat puts the passenger’s preferences first for all aspects of a flight, including work, entertainment, dining and rest. It is the first seat developed under the umbrella of UTC’s new interiors division and has tapped technology from various parts of the U.S.-based group, most notably its Specialty Seating Systems division.

The seat and other cabin management features can be controlled from a touch-screen unit provided by UTC or via a special application using an iPad/iPod or other similar smart devices. The seat also features a pair of USB ports, a connection jack for headphones, a 110v power outlet and an arm for holding tablet devices.

The use of wireless actuation and new methods for distributing climate-controlled air to passengers without fans has reduced the weight of the seat and, according to UTC, will make the product easier to upgrade and adapt. There is also no need for the seat’s leather upholstery to be perforated for air conditioning purposes, nor is a thermal pad required for heating.

The layout of the control unit itself can be tailored to match the architecture and equipment specification of each individual aircraft. The fact that executive jet seats tend to be large means that it is harder for passengers to reach over armrests to access traditional manual control levers and this makes the functionality of the wireless control units all the more advantageous.

New electric functions that would be manually controlled on traditional seats include the track and swivel features, which no longer require cabling. The control unit can be preset automatically return the chair to the position required for taxi, takeoff and landing, but the passenger can also use it to move the seat in any direction, including side to side, as well as adjusting the positioning of headrests and footrests. The new seats can be installed in standard tracking units in the floor of business aircraft cabins.

According to Rob Summers, manager of UTC’s Specialty Seating Systems business, the fundamentally different approach to climate control around the seat will give air conditioning system developers an opportunity to “rethink” their own equipment. UTC is already a supplier of air management systems for commercial airliners.

Some aspects of the climate control interface with the seat are still under development through consultation with prospective customers. UTC intends to have the seat in service by the first quarter of 2015. It has not disclosed pricing for the new product.

According to Summers, the Model 1 would be well suited to the existing Dassault Falcon, Embraer Legacy and Bombardier Challenger and Global family aircraft, as well as to the larger Boeing Business Jets and Airbus Corporate Jets. With some adjustment, UTC (Stand 1854) hopes to leverage the new technology to produce similar seats for smaller aircraft.