Folding economy seats are about to become a reality


A composite monocoque seat with a folding mechanism and a three-point harness, which is truly comfortable at a 28in pitch? It may sound like another seating concept, but for Rebel.Aero this short- haul economy seat is very real and will be ready to order at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg on April 14-16.

As managing director Gareth Burks told Aircraft Interiors International, “We looked at everything out there, looked at the regulations and sat down with a blank sheet of paper. We considered what would be the optimum seat, what would the passenger really want?”

The folding mechanism is simple – raise the seat pan, and because the contours of the seatback and seatpan cushion match, it folds flat. This means the occupant can stand up in their own footwell, which has clear benefits for ingress and egress, and a passenger can even sit on the folded part during flight, creating a second seating position around 4.5in higher, which enables them to straighten their legs and stretch the lower back.

According to Burks, the sculpted seatbacks mean that a 28in pitch feels like a 30-31in that more structure is required around the shoulder area, but even with that added weight, Rebel.Aero is expecting the seat to weigh sub-10kg per pax, aided by a low parts count.

There will be some customization options, and the company is looking at incorporating features such as phone and tablet holders and some creative storage spaces. While the launch seat – designed for short-haul A320s and B737s – won’t have IFE, with a quick tooling change it could be incorporated. Indeed Rebel.Aero intends to offer IFE options for future medium- and long-haul versions.

The seat has been designed to meet Boeing’s and Airbus’s regulations, and Rebel.Aero has conducted a full feasibility study with a certification company, to plot the quickest route to full certification. When the seat is revealed in Hamburg, it will have been static 9G tested, with full FEA analysis, a finalized bill of materials and a full supply chain in place, ready for order, with certification for a particular airline’s configuration billed as a relatively swift process.

Certified booster seat

Rebel has a third trick hidden in its monocoque. In its folded position, the seat could function as a child’s booster seat, which, combined with the three-point harness, would make an attractive proposition for parents flying with children.

There are some certification issues to overcome, but Burks is keen: “We’ve had feedback from airlines that if we could get a certified booster on the seat without increasing weight, it would almost be the holy grail for them.”

Posted March 11, 2015

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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