Sideways seating on aircraft is child's play

15 Oct 2009 by Mark Caswell

Consultancy firm Design Q has created a sideway seating concept which it hopes could revolutionize short-haul flying. What’s more the idea evolved from an unlikely source – a project for a primary school in Stoke on Trent.

Design Q has designed aircraft seating for several major airlines, including Cathay Pacific’s latest economy, business and first class seating. The company also “worked closely” with Virgin Atlantic to design its Upper Class fully-flat seating, but it was a recent project with Kingsland Primary School in Bucknall, Stoke on Trent, which led to the sideways seating design.

The firm was asked to create a flexible teaching space inside a disused Short S-360 aircraft which has been located within the grounds of the school, as Howard Guy, one of the founders of Design Q explains:

“We designed the interior of the aircraft for their needs as a schoolroom. Instead of forward facing seats they wanted the kids to be able to interact with each other, and the flexibility of seats that weren’t always there, as the younger kids sit on the floor, and there are dance classes, etc.

“So we designed seats that went against the window areas, which folded down like cinema seats, with a side table for laptops. When we saw adults and children sitting in them, the penny dropped. It’s incredibly comfortable, and you have more space than normally when sitting in an aircraft, where you’re cramped in sitting forward.”

From this design the company has created a sideways seating concept which Guy says would work well on certain aircraft such as the Boeing 737 or Airbus A319. He pointed to advantages including extra legroom and an aisle seat for all passengers, as well as quicker cleaning times for crew due to the fold up seats. Safety concerns would be overcome by using a harness-style seat belt at every seat.

Guy said that the brief for the design was for flights up to two hours, although he pointed out that the military already uses a similar seating layout on flights anything up to 14 hours. He said that Design Q has been approached by several operators regarding the concept, and is even hopeful that tests could be carried out before the end of the year.

Of course it’s not the first attempt to revolutionize economy seating. In 2007 Lufthansa said it was considering a bunk bed seating concept (see online news July 20, 2007), and earlier this year Ryanair announced it was considering standing room only on its flights (see online news July 6)

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Report by Mark Caswell

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