Hi-tech seats help A380 fly lighter

 - December 13, 2006, 6:52 AM

Aircraft cushion specialist Celso says interest is rising for its Soly’t lightened cushion. Thanks to its presence in the cabin of the new Airbus A380 airliner, the small French company is gaining market exposure. Here at the Paris Air Show, it is exhibiting its newest product in Hall 2 Stand I5b.

The A380 will fly with Soly’t cushions in its economy, business and first-class seats. “The weight saving is about one kilogram [2.2 pounds] per seat in economy and three to four kilograms per seat in higher classes,” Agnès Timbre-Saunière, Celso deputy managing director, told Aviation International News in a preshow interview.

Soly’t uses a low-density foam–70 kilograms per cubic meter (4.4 pounds per cubic foot). This results in considerable weight savings on the Airbus superjumbo–600 kilograms [more than 1,300 pounds]. Soly’t has been selected on the A380–through seat manufacturers–by airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Air France and Qantas.

The foam reduces the weight of the cushion itself by 50 percent, although it does cost 30 percent more than conventional foam. “But return on investment comes fast–less than two months,” Timbre-Saunière asserted. At three to five years, the durability of the foam is said to be similar to that of conventional polyurethane materials.

The Soly’t concept is based on the use of BASF’s Basotect melamine foam. It was originally designed for thermal and acoustic building insulation. JSO, Celso’s parent company, holds a patent for the modification that enables the material to be used for cushioning.

The new foam has been in service for two years. Its first application was on the Avions de Transport Regional ATR 42 regional airliner, when Italian-based Avio Interiors selected it for its seats. Timbre-Saunière is confident Soly’t will fly on the Boeing 787, too. “Some of them [seat manufacturers] have launched tests for seats that will have both Airbus and Boeing variants,” she explained.

Celso is based in Bressols, north of Toulouse. With sister company PMV Industrie, which specializes in VIP seat manufacturing, its employees number 90.