TAP Air Portugal has launched a pilot project with Recaro Aircraft Seating, installing “connected seats” on one of its A321 aircraft.

Recaro says that the “iSeat” is “the first ever economy class seat to be designed, certified and installed as an ‘intelligent seat’”.

The manufacturer used its BL3530 seat model as the foundation for the project, equipping it with sensors which gather data on seat performance and “generic behaviour” during flights.

Examples given on what data will be recorded include whether the seat is occupied, how many times the passenger uses the tray table, whether the seatbelt is fastened, and the use of armrests and seat recline.

Data will be retrieved every two months, and will be “analyzed for future investigations, such as tracking passenger preferences and maintenance”. The six-month pilot is the start of Recaro refers to as a “connected cabin” strategy.

Commenting on the news Nuno Leal, head of fleet planning and contracts at TAP Air Portugal, said:

“TAP Air Portugal is very excited to have been chosen by Recaro as a partner airline to pioneer the investigation of passenger’s comfort during their flights. TAP has been investing throughout the recent years in developing an in-flight product aligned with the brand and consistent on the entire fleet.

“This product improvement process has been one the pillars of all TAP’s recent transformation. TAP has today a cabin that was specifically designed to match TAP’s identity and to provide the best in-flight experience to our passengers.

“Recaro is a strategic partner on this transformation process and the “iSeat” will provide further data regarding the passengers’ needs and behaviours that will help TAP Air Portugal and Recaro in the development of new generations of seats to further enhance the comfort and safety standards.”

Travel firms are increasingly using technology to gather data on seat usage – last year train operating company LNER introduced seat sensor technology which uses beams to locate free seats on the train. Passengers can see them by accessing the onboard wifi portal and selecting ‘find an empty seat’ five minutes after the train has left a station.

tapairportugal.com, recaro-as.com