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New, less spacious seating may change the way you fly

business Updated: Sep 22, 2010 23:19 IST
Joe Sharkey

“Like riding a horse,” said Dominique Menoud, the director general of Aviointeriors, the Italian aircraft seat manufacturer, after I had slid into the company’s new “stand-up” airplane seat on display last week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas trade show. As television cameras poked around the display seats for angles, Menoud asked me, “It is very comfortable, no?”

“No,” I replied, though Menoud, beaming, seemed to take that as an assent.

Long rumoured and joked about, the so-called stand-up airplane seat has now emerged from the imagination, the drawing board and the factory and into the bright lights.

The seat is being marketed mostly for shorter haul flights of two hours or so. But Menoud said that the seats could also be used on flights up to four hours.

Aviointeriors said the seat allowed for a new basic class of seating with a “much reduced seat pitch.” Most coach seats have 31 or 32 inches of pitch, the industry definition of the distance between one point in a seat and the same point in the seat ahead. A few discount airlines have seats with 28 inches of pitch, but the SkyRider is intended to have 23 inches or less, depending on how an airline installs it.

Now, before a seat like the SkyRider would actually turn up on airplanes, there remain various hurdles — chief among them safety concerns about emergency evacuations from planes with passengers crammed into such tight spaces.

However, Aviointeriors says the SkyRider has undergone extensive testing and will be able to meet all regulatory safety standards.

Have any airlines signed up? “No, but we are in discussions right now, and there is a lot of interest from carriers around the world,” Menoud said.

The New York Times