Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), often caused by sitting too long in one position, is now recognised as a potential killer of long-haul air travellers.

Farnborough resident QinetiQ (Hall 1, D9), formerly the UK defence ministry's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, has just unveiled a "sensing chair" capable of detecting the movements of the occupant and giving early warning of a possible DVT episode.

The chair is fitted with miniature sensors that can be linked to the cabin network and a display in the cabin-crew station.

If the occupant sits still for an excessive length of time, a warning could be flashed up on the passenger's in-seat display. If the passenger doesn't respond, a further warning could be passed to cabin staff.

The events of 11 September have suggested a security application, offering early warning of terrorist attack or an air-rage incident. "The sensors could detect a restless passenger, or someone who is agitated and displaying suspicious behaviour," says QinetiQ's David Howells.

In-seat intelligence could also help with basic cabin management, with the system programmed to dim lights when the passenger sleeps and switch them on again when he awakes.

QinetiQ's intelligent seat forms part of its current concept for the airliner cabin of the future. The company is working with Virgin Atlantic Airways to develop the concept further.

Other examples of QinetiQ's aerospace technologies on show include the Raptor airborne reconnaissance system, the titanium metal matrix composite material, and aviation security products based on passive millimetre-wave imaging.

Source: Flight Daily News