Are Standing Room Only Flights on the Horizon?
Airbus patent could mean stand up seats on planes!
You better sit down for this one. A search on U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirms that Airbus has filed a patent for a "seating device comprising a forward-foldable backrest
The seating devices, a.k.a. vertical seats, are being touted as the
next best thing in discount air travel. They would essentially create
passenger cabins that are standing room only, allowing airlines to fit
more travelers into a fixed space and purportedly passing the
money-saving benefits on to passengers.
Standing up for Discount Air Travel
A study published in the August, 2014 edition of
the International Journal of Engineering and Technology, by aerospace
engineer Dr. Fairuz Romli supports the feasibility of creating standing
sections in cabins for low-cost airlines to make them more competitive
in the general travel industry. The study
suggests that these airlines could fit 21% more passengers in a cabin,
enabling them to reduce ticket prices by 44%, making them competitive
not only with larger airlines, but with buses and trains as well.
The proposed vertical seating device in the Airbus patent resembles a
bicycle seat with armrests and a lower lumbar backrest. The patent
rates the comfort level as "tolerable" if the flights are of short
duration. Romli's study concludes that the vertical seat idea could be
effectively used to reduce operational costs that could be passed on to
passengers, but the study also reveals that the greatest savings for
the airlines would be on longer flights.
Examining Industry Regulations in Air Travel
In his study, Romli introduces other futuristic vertical seating
designs including one that features the passengers fully standing while
harnessed to a backrest for safety. He points out that comfort is not
standardized in air travel. "Air Transport Association (ATA) does not
officially impose any specific standards for the seat comfort or
seating configuration." Therefore, the door is open to the possibility
of vertical seats, and he believes that the appeal of low-cost air
travel would outweigh the importance of comfort for many passengers.
Maybe you're wondering about the safety of standing in an airliner with
a cruising speed of 550 mph, after all who hasn't been ordered back to
their seat when the flight hits turbulence? According to the study,
Romli has no concerns about possible safety objections from the FAA,
who he says hasn't outlawed standing seats in its current aviation
standards. "For instance, Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) does not
enforce that the passenger must be in a sitting position during both
takeoff and landing procedure, as long as the passenger has been
Testing the Market for Standup Seating
Airlines have already swapped out passenger seats for smaller, lighter
versions, reaching the place where they cannot reduce the per seat
space any further, and making room for the idea of standup seating.
Romli admits that the FAA and the ATA may indeed balk at the concept
when airlines are ready to implement it, and present regulatory
obstacles to be overcome, but at this point he is saying it's feasible;
it's possible; it's a realistic option.
There is still the question of marketability. When Ryanair entertained
the possibility of vertical seats a few years ago with the introduction
of SkyRider, a first generation vertical seat design, they eventually
abandoned the concept, believing it was an idea whose time had not yet
come. The market wasn't ready then, but maybe it is now. Watch the
video below to hear what RyanAir's CEO Michael O'Leary said about
having passengers stand up on flights.
What do you think? If the price were right, would you give up the comfort of an airplane seat for standup seating?
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