New Airliner Seat Sheds Weight and Parts Count

 - April 15, 2013, 2:10 PM
French company Expliseat says its new Titanium airliner seat could cut fuel bills by hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Photo: Expliseat)

One of the highlights of last week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, was French start-up company Expliseat’s unveiling of a new economy-class seat that significantly cuts weight and engineering complexity. The new seat, called Titanium, tips the scales at 8.8 pounds per passenger, which the Paris-based firm claims is around half the weight of traditional airliner seats. 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 Expliseat, the parts count has been reduced to 30, down from 500 for a conventional seat. The certification process started 18 months ago and is set to be completed this year.

Expliseat has no factory itself and relies on unidentified Toulouse-based firms that will put the seats together from parts that come mainly from French suppliers. The company aims to equip an initial 100 to 200 aircraft per year, with its main target market being narrowbodies like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

To combine simplicity and comfort, the fixed backrest has been “pre-reclined” by 18 degrees. It is just two inches thick, but Expliseat says that the seat’s special shock-absorbent textiles will guard against passengers feeling the movement of passengers behind them against the seat. With a standard low-cost-carrier seat pitch of 29 inches, the new seats would allow for just under three-and-a-half inches of knee space.

Meanwhile, Airbus unveiled a new extra-wide seat for the A320 inspired by what it called “trends in demographics” (translation: passengers are getting bigger). The airframer also displayed its new “Space-Flex” configuration for the rear of the A320 cabin, which has been designed to make access easier for people with reduced mobility.