At just under 11kg (24lb), Lufthansa's new seat is 4.3kg lighter than its predecessor.
The nearly 30% weight reduction has been achieved through the replacement of seat padding foam with a polyester mesh, a new armrest and detail optimisations such as an enlarged hole in the seat belt lock, which saves 60g per seat. While the new accommodation will shave off, for example, around 300kg off a Boeing 737's empty weight, the savings across the fleet are to total approximately 131t.
Ease of maintenance was another objective for the BL3520 seat. The ultra-thin sitting area can be folded up for quick access to the support structure. Recaro employed a nano technology-based, dirt repellent surface coating for the aisle-side plastic cover below the armrest. This is one of the most highly strained parts of the seat due to the likely impact from hand baggage, service trolleys etc.
Lufthansa will install the new accommodation in both its economy and business class, meaning the end of the latter's "cocktail table" in between window and aisle seats. This is a small table in the current model, which folds down from the back rest of the unpopular middle seat, when the row is converted from economy to business class. The mechanism also involves the sideway movement of the inner armrests, creating a slightly wider aisle/window seat. However, the feature could not be included in the slim backrest of the new seat.
Surveys showed that business class travellers did not consciously notice the slight width increase, says head of product management European traffic Stefan Schuermann. He adds that the main passenger requirement was for the middle seat to remain unoccupied.
Emphasising its legacy carrier status, Lufthansa has decided to increase the onboard service on its short and medium-haul network. Economy class passengers will get a snack such as a muesli bar on all flights except ultra short connections, such as between Frankfurt and Nuremberg where there is not enough time for a trolley service. A hot meal will be served on cross-border routes with a flight time of more than two hours. For business class, the airline will work with selected chefs to create varying meals.
Lufthansa is currently working on a new long-haul economy class seat, which it intends to introduce with the planned service entry of the 747-8 at the end of 2011.