Airbus files patent for
folding airplane seats


News: plane manufacturer Airbus has applied for a patent on folding chairs for commercial aircraft with saddles instead of seat cushions.

The European Patent Office has published details of a US filing by aeronautics giant Airbus for a "seating device with reduced bulk".

The design features a backrest and a saddle that pivots out and down in a circular movement to unfold into a seat. The backrest moves down when the seat is folded out, and the saddle tilts forward to reduce the amount of leg space taken up by the passenger.

"In order to reduce the bulk of the seating device in the retracted configuration and to reduce the distance needed to accommodate the legs of passengers between two rows of seating devices, the seating takes the form of the motorcycle-type saddle," said Airbus in the patent document.

Airbus files airplane patent

"Still with a view for reducing the bulk of the device in the retracted configuration, the backrest takes the form of a simple lumbar support held at the end of an arm."

A raisable armrest is also included and is attached to the backrest support.

Airbus said the design was a response to recent demands from low-cost airlines to cram more seating into existing plane interiors – often to the detriment of passenger comfort.

It builds on three previous solutions that proposed producing narrower seats, reducing the legroom between them and paring down their overall bulk, all of which Airbus says have been pursued to their natural conclusion but now presented problems of accessibility.

"The present invention aims to mitigate the drawback of the prior art," said Airbus. "The backrest makes it possible to widen the access to the seating places situated behind when the seating device is in the retracted configuration."

Airbus files airplane patent

"It also becomes possible to further reduce the distance between different rows of seating devices in an aircraft cabin."

Stripped of their cushions, the seats are mounted on a horizontal pole, with the drawings appearing to suggest a table football-style arrangement.

"In effect, to increase the number of cabin seats, the space allotted to each passenger must be reduced," said Airbus in the patent filing. "However, this reduced comfort remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours."

The design has already been dubbed the world's "most uncomfortable plane seat" by British newspaper The Telegraph.

However, a spokesman from Airbus told the newspaper it was "unlikely" the seats would ever be used on passenger planes.

"We file hundreds of patents each year and it's all about protecting ideas," he said. "We are actually pushing airlines for an 18-inch seat width to come as standard on long haul flights – some aircraft have only 16.7 inches."

Earlier this week Priestmangoode presented a solution to prevent fights for luggage space in overhead compartments on crowded flights, while last month James Lee designed an armrest to end elbow grapples on the plane.

  • jk

    Add some bike cranks and pedals and they will patent first commercial human powered plane since the Wright Brothers.

  • Heck, why not get rid of seats altogether? Make those lazy passengers stand up! They are used to it if they commute through buses and subway trains, right?!

  • Markofunken

    This is quite macabre.

  • bonsaiman

    Great! There will be plenty of room for our pigs and chickens!

  • This will work perfectly with all those thin, average height, perfectly postured people.

  • Nick

    It reminds me of the etched drawings of the layout of the “cargo” on slave transportation ships

  • justin

    I hope they will charge no more than a regular bus.

  • o

    If we want cheap ways of travelling we need to renounce certain standards of comfort. Let’s leave the decision to the users and choose between spending a big amount of money just because you get comfortably to your destination or pay less and be a little uncomfortable for a few hours. This kind of proposition doesn’t mean that regular seats are going to disappear.

    • Concerned Citizen

      This isn’t about keeping flight costs down, but about increasing profit. Passengers would see no price difference after the first month, or so.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      The pressure isn’t to provide cheap air travel, it’s to squeeze as much profit out of a passenger as possible by making nearly everything an additional fee.

  • justin

    If that is the case, I hope they don’t charge more than regular busses.

  • Bruno de Paris

    This looks like a hoax though. The impact is negative, not positive. It could be good for Ryanair, not for Airbus?

  • TFO

    Yet another way an airline can distinguish themselves in the market. “Obese Airways” can offer regular or extra-wide seating, “SlimAir” could offer these “seats”.

  • Ben-Hur Airlines FTW! ;)

  • Concerned Citizen

    Airliner seats must do more than merely support a body at partial rest. They must also provide a level of safety to protect the passenger from other passengers (sneezing down the neck of the passenger in front) and from airplane motion. These seats don’t even offer seat belts!

  • Garo Ungaro

    I think this design is most applicable in buses, boats, short routes or airport seating areas, but very uncomfortable for paying passengers on a long-haul flight. Eighteen hours in this seating position creates body stress. Maybe better and advantageous for airlines for extra added setting capacity? Not comfortable for long fights, but most practical for short flights. Good design ideas, but they sacrifice the main purpose of seat comfortability?

  • yo mamma

    Pickpockets paradise.

  • yo mamma

    Long-haul, sore arse.