Wednesday 23 May 2018

SkyRider: New 'saddle' seat allows airlines to 'cram' more passengers

SkyRider seats designed by Italian firm Aviointeriors Group
SkyRider seats designed by Italian firm Aviointeriors Group

Andrew Hough

A new aircraft "standing seat" model aimed at cramming more airline passengers onto budget flights has been unveiled.

The new “saddle” seat, to be unveiled at a conference this week, increases the number of seats an airline can have in its economy class.

The design, named the “SkyRider”, allows just 23 inches of legroom, which is about seven inches less than the average seat's space of 30 inches.

Shaped similar to a horse saddle, passengers sit at an angle, with their weight taken on by their legs. It allows seats to be overlapped.

The seats would also offer storage space including a shelf for carry-on bags and hooks to hang a jacket or a handbag.

The makers say the seat would allow budget airlines, such as Ryanair, to cram more passengers into their tight cabins.

The seat, designed by Italian design firm Aviointeriors Group, based in Latina, in the country's south-west, is to be unveiled this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, California.

But while the designers claim it does not affect passenger comfort, they say it would only be suitable for flights of up to three hours.

"We feel extremely confident that this concept will ... have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes," Dominique Menoud, the company's director general, told USA Today.

“For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours ... this would be comfortable seating.

“The seat ... is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle."

The company added that the seat, which is in its final stage of testing, had been “designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability”.

Ryanair, the Irish low-cost carrier, has previously said it would let passengers stand during flights if the Irish Aviation Authority granted permission.

In July, Ryanair announced plans to operate flights where passengers stand during the journey at a cost of just £5 per ticket.

Michael O'Leary, the budget airline’s controversial chief executive, suggested the Irish airline may soon carry a number of “vertical seats”.

But the latest idea has already been dismissed by safety officials.

The European Aviation Safety Agency, in Cologne, Germany, said the plans were “highly unlikely” to meet stringent safety approval.

“To our knowledge, no airlines or other operators have made an application for stand-up seats,” a spokesman said.

“What they are proposing would be unprecedented and highly unlikely to be certified in the near future.” No approval has been granted.

Mr Menoud said if a carrier committed to the new design his company would apply for the proper certification.

He claimed several airlines had expressed interest although he did not name the companies.

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