A revolutionary seat concept for economy class passengers is being shown in Asia for the first time. Premium Aircraft Interiors is demonstrating its Freedom seats, in which the centre seat in a row of three is rear-facing.

“We are getting a lot of interest in the concept,” says Ben Bettell, Premium’s business development director. “We had said we wouldn’t get involved in economy seating unless we had something that was so different. This is very different.”

Premium studied research into passenger attitude to economy seating and developed the Freedom to give both more space and more privacy. “We wanted to humanise economy long-haul travel,” says Bettell. The Freedom solution can do that but also has the potential to boost airline revenue. “Basically, it provides up to 4in more leg room with the same number of seats or could typically provide 21 extra seats on a standard Boeing 777 configuration,” Bettell says.

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The design includes rigid seat backs with a sliding seat pan – resolving one of the biggest passenger concerns - personal space invasion when the passenger in front reclines into the knee space behind. There are additional privacy screens that stop eye contact between facing passengers. “This was something else that came up in the research,” says Bettell. “People relax more when there is no eye contact with other passengers.”

The space saving works because there is no restriction at the shoulders – passengers also get exclusive use of armrests leading to more personal comfort. There is potential for special family and friends configurations.

“This is still a concept,” says Bettell. “The airline industry is conservative and people get used to what they know, like walking on and seeing rows of seats facing you. But change happens. We designed a urinal for aircraft and showed it seven years ago. It is about to be introduced on an airline for the first time. So it can take a while for new ideas to get acceptance. However, we know from the interest on this seat design already that the benefits of more space or more revenue in attracting a lot of attention.”

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Source: Flight Daily News