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James Dyson is well known for his out of the box thinking and equally ‘out there’ designs. His stable of innovative vacuum cleaners, fans and hand dryers is testimony to what can happen when you go back to first principles and re-imagine the rest.
So what would happen if the British superbrain turned his mind to airline seating?
It could be something like this – the AirGo economy seat, a winner of the 2012 international James Dyson Award.
Described as “a low-cost yet highly ergonomic approach to economy class cabin design”, the AirGo seat looks like something out of a cutting edge science-fiction film – we’re thinking 2001: A Space Odyssey meets Alien.
“While the design is minimal and economically viable, the problem with reclining seats is addressed by designing an independent space for each row of seats” explains the AirGo’s creator, Malaysia-based engineering student Alireza Yaghoubi.
“The seats, even though offer the same features as in first class in terms of comfortableness, occupy smaller floor space and are cheaper to manufacture and maintain.”
We should note that Yaghoubi appears to be using ‘first class’ in the domestic American sense, which we know as business class.
(We also suggest that perhaps he’s never flown in first class or even a good business class if he reckons this pod-like design is on par with what you’d get at the pointy end of the plane.)
The AirGo is a radical and surprisingly minimalist deconstruction of not just the economy seat but the whole cabin.
It comprises two parts: the seat itself, and an individual overhead luggage locker for each passenger (rather than a shared bin).
The seat module consists of an articulated frame containing three motors that allow the passenger to customise its position for maximum comfort and minimum back pain.
There's an inbuilt touchscreen display, of course, for adjusting your seat as well as enjoying inflight entertainment.
Both the screen and tray table are mounted independently on arms that can be easily moved or simply folded away when not wanted.
The back support is made of strong yet flexible nylon mesh which adjusts to the shape of your body to avoid fatigue, and also prevents sweating. Keeping the seat clean "is as easy as replacing this recyclable net", Yaghoubi says.
Yaghoubi claims the AirGo seat would not only be cheaper to manufacture and maintain than today’s economy designs, but that it’s ”200% more space efficient than first class” and only needs 16% more space than a conventional economy seat.
Fitted on an Airbus A380, Yaghoubi suggests another radical departure from the norm: the seat layout would be 1-2-2-2-1. That's right: four aisles, with no more than two seats next to one another.
What's your take on the AirGo economy seat – would you be willing to fly this all the way to New York or London? Share your comments below!
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