Long-haul seats are Recaro's main focus at this year's Aircraft Interiors show. The German manufacturer has revealed its new "Comfort Line" (CL) 3710 economy class seat and a concept demonstrator for a future business class seat for long-haul aircraft.

No customers have yet been signed up for either of the two products. But this is no surprise, says Mark Hiller, chief executive of the company's aircraft seating division, following a change in its design philosophy two years ago. While the engineers in the past started to work out the details of a new seat once a first customer was found, Recaro has deliberately not offered the CL3710 to the market yet to maintain maximum design freedom for the future product line. The manufacturer conducted a number of workshops with airlines to find out market trends and carriers' expectations for a future seat.

But customer talks are now progressing, says Hiller, and could lead to a first deal at the Hamburg show. He anticipates that the CL3710 will enter service in the third quarter 2014.

At 11.6kg (25.6lb) per passenger, it is about 20% lighter than Recaro's previous long-haul economy class seat generation.

Hiller says that during the two-year development the engineers came up with 20 "patent worthy" design features - 10 of which have been included in the show seat - that have now been registered with the respective authorities.

One of them is a tray table catch that can be handled with just one hand. Following the company's BL3520 short-haul economy class seat, the literature pocket has been moved upwards behind the tray table for the CL 3710 to create more knee room. But despite the busier top end of the seat back, the engineers still managed to accommodate IFE systems with 12-inch screens and a six-way adjustable headrest with neck support that, according to Hiller, "cannot be explained but requires testing".

Another feature is an armrest that can be folded up fully flush with the seat backs in order to accommodate oversized passengers on two seats. The real novelty is that the seats can still be reclined, without the armrest moving further back, too, instead of protruding into the traveller's back.

The new business class seat is still in a demonstrator stage. Hiller says it is one of several concepts which the design team has developed based on innovation workshops with a number of airlines.

The main feature is that the seat can be converted into a fully flat, 180-degree bed. Recaro's previous business class seat generation was slightly angled in the bed configuration.

But perhaps the greater innovation is that passengers travelling on window seats or in the middle of the cabin need not to step across their neighbours' legs to access the aisle. This will not be acceptable anymore in future business class seats, says Hiller. Airlines want direct aisle access for all business class passengers.

The designers achieved this with a cabin layout where the seats are installed offset instead of directly next to one another. All seats are facing straight forward in the upright position. But when turned into beds, they slightly swivel as the seating area connects with a separate part of the lie-down section.

Hiller says that the decision how to proceed with the further development of the new business class will be based on customer feedback during the show. The schedule for entry into service will thus depend on the market response, he says, and should take around two-and-a-half years.

Source: Flight Daily News