One of the most exciting launches to take place at Aircraft Interiors Expo was also one of the most secret, being a strictly invitation-only, behind the scenes event. However, Aircraft Interiors International secured exclusive media access to view DoveTail, Jamco’s bold entry into the upper-business class seating segment.
DoveTail represents Jamco’s second aircraft seat model, following its March 2012 entry into the aircraft seating market when the company made the double announcement it had developed the Journey forward-facing business class seat, and that it had entered into an agreement with Airbus to be an A350 XWB Airbus Contracted Supplier (ACS) for premium seating products.
That same year, Jamco’s seating team also began work with JPA Design to create DoveTail, a seat designed along the principles of the reverse herringbone layout, while also offering something a little different by adding a stagger to the configuration.
Let’s start with some headline facts about the seat:
• DoveTail is intended for wide-body application in a 1-2-1 configuration at a 43-46in pitch depending on aircraft type .
• The seat is 21.5in wide, with just a 1.5in taper to the foot of the ottoman.
• The 1,700in bed area is 78in long – and that’s usable length, not a clever ‘point-to-point’ figure.
• Jamco claims that the seat offers at least 10% more living space within the same effective seat pitch as benchmark seats.
• The design is intended to provide private living space in a dense LOPA
Despite the relative complexity of the layout, the living space itself is pleasingly simple. For example, the staggered configuration meant that the footwell angle could be expanded from a typical sub-30° angle to a 55-60° angle, creating a square, usable foot space 21in-deep and 20in-wide, which is especially good news for large-footed passengers. There is even sufficient space to stow a carry-on underneath the ottoman.
Above: There is provision for an 18.5in IFE monitor, which is fixed at a 1.5m viewing distance from the seat. The fixed position minimizes the componentry required as pivot arms and latches are not needed, also increasing durability and reducing maintenance. Renderings courtesy of JPA/Jamco
While the layout of DoveTail is unique, it is not exotic enough to cause certification issues, according to Ben Orson, managing director of JPA Design – London. “The configuration has enough in common with some other familiar configurations that we don’t see any issues getting it through certification,” he told Aircraft Interiors International during the seat reveal.
Simplicity was a key consideration in the design, in terms of both styling and engineering. From the one-piece table that swings out on a single arm, to the provision of a simple strap that runs above the center console to clamp magazines and tablets, everything works as simply as their appearance would suggest, making the passenger experience relaxing, while minimizing weight and parts count for the airline.
The same principle is applied beneath the surface, with a single-actuator kinematic minimizing weight and cost, and increasing reliability. DoveTail shares its single-actuator kinematic – which moves through the positions of upright, lounge and bed – with the Journey seat, which is nearing certification and will be flying later this year.
“We benchmarked against the best in class and we’re confident that DoveTail is lighter – and better,” stated Orson.
Those seat functions are operated using touch controls integrated into the surface of the center console, in line with the way passengers are used to controlling their modern everyday devices. This helps achieve a clean look, and also enhances durability as there are no moving parts to seize or snap, no clicker domes to break, and no knobs to fall off. The flat surfaces are also easy for cleaning crews to keep shiny and sanitary so every passenger feels like they’re in a fresh environment.
Even device charging is a minimal experience, with an inductive charging pad on the console. Until this technology achieves market penetration, other options also include conventional power sockets, complemented by USB and HDMI sockets.
The staggered layout is naturally beneficial for privacy, which lends itself well to research by JPA and Jamco which has found that because most premium passengers travel alone, privacy is ranked higher in their preferences than openness.
Above: The center console has also been changed from a long, rectangular shape on the initial design to a deeper triangular shape, which is better for resting a magazine or laptop on. Note the colored privacy dividers
However, for airlines keen to give a companion option as well as a private self-contained customer option, sliding panels can be specified between the center seats, which give a degree of privacy control, as they can be slid back to have a conversation with, or dine with, the neighboring passenger. Beyond the trim and finish options for customization, these panels give DoveTail a unique design feature that offers airlines a great opportunity for market differentiation. They are also a nice tactile feature for passengers to interact with.
Regarding customer options, perhaps the most interesting is made possible by Jamco’s other activities in lav and galley manufacturing. If end-row monuments are incorporated into the seating layout, new potential cabin customization opportunities open up, including the fitting of extra seats, a changing room, or an integrated baby bassinet.
The staggered arrangement of the seats also creates large, accessible storage spaces at the fore and aft ends of the center rows, which are ideal for crew to stow items such as blankets, safety equipment or magazines – and which also free-up space in the areas where they are currently stowed.
Above: Headphone and tablet stowage can be placed above the side console and additional amenity stowage is found at the rear of the back shell. Blankets can be stowed under the aisle side armrest, next to a water bottle holder. The armrest is lowered during TTOL
We must admit, we have seen prototype versions of DoveTail twice before, in 2013 and 2014, though an unofficial NDA precluded us from revealing details. The original concept had a really striking, organic form that branched through the design, which both created the unique LOPA and introduced an interesting engineering-led styling motif. However, as the prototype was flown around the world and evaluated by people of various shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds, Jamco and JPA received feedback that the passenger space was actually too private, so the revised version is slightly more open, with those sliding screens being a lighter approach to creating privacy than high walls.
There is a bigger development with the new version though, as Orson explained: “You get more seats per plane with the new DoveTail – that’s one of the standout messages.” The figure varies between aircraft types, but Orson says the new version requires around 4in less seat pitch than the initial prototypes.
In effect, DoveTail has shifted from being a product pitched at the very top of the business class segment, to taking a slightly more accessible position in the upper part of the segment.
Below: This image is all we could reveal of the original DoveTail concept
The next steps
Three big questions remain. The first is – can Jamco deliver? As an ACS, Airbus clearly has confidence in Jamco. And remember, this company is a major, proven supplier of stowages, lavs and galleys. A Jamco spokesperson told us, “We’ve had discussions with Boeing and Airbus and they know DoveTail is coming and are excited about having another vendor they can add to their roster. They have been really positive, and we are confident we can produce the seat without problems.”
The second question is – when can an airline order DoveTail? The answer is now. Jamco is still welcoming feedback on the design, especially following airline viewings at Aircraft Interiors Expo, but they are ready to discuss orders, and predict that deliveries could begin in 24 months. According to Jamco, it is currently in “advanced discussions” with undisclosed airlines.
And finally, will we see Jamco entering other seat classes? A Jamco spokesperson stated, “Our strengths are best used in premium classes as we are good at personalization. Our focus is on premium seating and we won’t be entering the economy seat sector.”
April 24, 2015 Adam Gavine