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Aircraft Interiors: Recaro eases the lot of the economy passenger
In the world of aircraft seating the headlines usually go to the ever more sumptuous premium-class products pouring out of the studios of the leading manufacturers. But at last week’s Aircraft Interiors show in Hamburg German manufacturer Recaro kept the spotlight on the back of the bus.
The Schwaebisch Hall-based company gladdened airline hearts with its ideas for an economy seat weighing in at an astounding 6kg. Called Stingray, it’s essentially the existing SL3510 with another 3kg of weight squeezed out through the use of new materials and other measures.
The original SL3510 is designed for flights of up to four hours’ duration and offers a combination of light weight (9kg), durability and comfort. Even at a tight 28in pitch, says Recaro, it provides more legroom than any other seat in its class.
“With Stingray we took things a step further and maximised weight reduction to show what is possible,” says chief executive Axel Kahsnitz. “Our engineers developed intelligent new designs and used a new aluminium alloy and additional carbonfibre-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) in the primary structure, which was reconfigured using the latest analysis techniques. Throughout, we sought to maintain the existing levels of comfort and reliability.”
The Stingray weight savings have been verified in simulations, the company says, and the design could ultimately lead to a fully certificated product.
Stingray’s SL3510 parent seat is aimed at airlines that offer short-range services with frequent, fuel-intensive take-offs. “They require extremely lightweight seats that are also very reliable and easy to maintain,” says Kahsnitz. “SL3510 is specially designed to meet their needs, while at the same time being extremely comfortable.”
The seat’s backrest was optimised for a relaxed sitting position, according to the company. Its aluminium frame is covered with a netting material that adapts to the shape of the passenger’s back, and the extremely thin backrest provides more living space compared with more thickly padded seats.
Advantages for the airline include a significant reduction in parts count and the use of high-strength materials, leading to lower maintenance costs. The ultra-thin profile of the seat also allows the operator to make the most of available cabin space.
While Stingray and SL3510 are optimised for short/medium-haul operations, Recaro’s new CL3620 is designed to draw the sting of flights of up to 20hr duration in economy. Derived from the established CL3610, the new seat weighs less and offers what the company describes as exceptional legroom.
Like its predecessor, the CL3620 is based on a single-beam structure designed to replace the two support beams of conventional designs and so provide extra legroom. “The entire beam is made from aluminium, and our innovative mounting technique also helps to cut weight,” says Kahsnitz. “Increased modularity in the design has cut parts count by 800, simplifying assembly, taking out more weight and easing maintenance. The flexible material in the headrest, the footnet, the ultra-thin backrest and other innovations all add up to an exceptionally comfortable experience for the passenger.”
Recaro also addresses the premium cabins, of course, and in Hamburg it was showing a business-class concept seat. Designated Phantom, the prototype is based on the existing CL6510, modified to offer an even wider range of configurations.
A remote-control handset can be used to transform the seat into a two-metre-long 180° full-flat bed with a perfectly horizontal surface. The handset can also command a variety of preprogrammed settings for seat-cushion height and backrest angle, as well as offering a memory function that allows passenger preferences to be captured.
The Phantom concept also addresses the positioning of the seats in the cabin. Instead of being placed side by side, the seats can be staggered to give the occupants a little more privacy. In addition, the space gained by staggering the positions and reducing width makes it possible to, for example, install seven seats across the cabin in the Boeing 787 compared with the standard six-across arrangement.
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