Airplane cabins could look different the next time you fly

Recaro's seat modifications to keep passengers apart in a sign of how airlines will try to woo back wary passengers.

By Bloomberg News , September 7 2020
Airplane cabins could look different the next time you fly

Headrest canopies and fabric barriers between seats could start appearing in airplane cabins as the embattled industry tries to ward off the coronavirus.

Airlines desperate for governments to lift travel restrictions and passengers to return are looking at ways to reassure the public that their health won’t be compromised on a flight. New-look seats and fresh cabins could be a start.

One of the biggest companies in that business, Recaro Aircraft Seating, has designed a range of modifications to keep passengers apart and protect them from infection.

Recaro's 'Row2Row' privacy divider concept.
Recaro's 'Row2Row' privacy divider concept.

Airlines are considering installing Recaro’s equipment as temporary cabin makeovers, according to Chief Executive Officer Mark Hiller. They need fittings that are easy to maneuver, lightweight and available at short notice, he said.

“There is definitely large interest from across the different regions,” Hiller said in an interview.

With a coronavirus vaccine possibly years away, airlines need to persuade the public it is safe to fly when an infected passenger might be next to them.

Sporadic flareups around the world are putting people off: global traffic in July was down almost 80% from a year earlier, a steeper-than-expected slump, the International Air Transport Association said last week.

Self-cleaning seats?

Of the planes that are flying, many are half empty. Aircraft typically must be 70% to 80% full to turn a profit, so that increases the appeal of devices that let passengers sit side by side without touching heads, brushing shoulders or nudging elbows.

Airlines are also figuring out how to apply a disinfectant coating developed by Recaro onto their seats, Hiller said. The German company says it has revamped the substance to repel viruses including Covid-19.

How Recaro's privacy headrest concept works.
How Recaro's privacy headrest concept works.

While the industry has for months said there’s little chance of catching the virus on a plane because there are hospital-grade air filters on board, that argument has been undermined by breakouts on some flights.

All 187 passengers and six crew on a TUI flight from the Greek resort of Zante to Cardiff last month were asked to self-isolate after at least 16 confirmed cases were identified on the August 25 service.

Recaro, which sold about 150,000 aircraft seats last year, isn’t immune to the crisis gripping the aviation industry, despite potential demand for its designs. Hiller said revenue is expected to drop almost 60% this year.

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This article was published under license from Bloomberg Media and the original article can be viewed here

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 310

When the good time were rolling on most airlines had a minimum viable cleaning routine with a focus on keeping costs way down and inching into any disposable minute of turn around time at the gate to get back in the sky again, and as for cleaning well....we've all ended up in a seat that could have had a serious extra vacuum or tray table that clearly was not cleaned over several previous flights. Very clean cabins and disinfectant are nothing CV-19 unique, these are all things airlines should have been concentrating on as a course of business and should continue to focus on as a course of business, nothing to do with CV-19. As for all these 'privacy screens' and Row2Row seats, these should be on the innovation 'to do' list, especially in economy class, because it's good for the customer experience and general well being of passengers, but do not pull the CV-19 card out on us, people can catch other illnesses like the common cold just as easily.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 94

Frankly what I am surprised with is the news that the QF cleaners say they are only using wet wipes with no disinfectant.

This is already bad enough for normal times (I once sat in a VA plane who had changed her baby’s nappy on her meal tray, in economy class, I kid you not) and even worse when we were at least 2 months into the pandemic, when Safe Work NSW had to issue an ultimatum for QF to change the work practices

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 94

Sorry

I meant to say another VA pax change her baby’s nappy, in economy class, on the meal tray.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 94

All these things offer very similar protection to simply getting all pax to wear a mask properly.

They do not work very well in aerosol transmission, which is currently being reviewed to see if it can be another method of infection 

Currently air is being blown into the cabin to maintain positive pressure (which is opposite to medical isolation room with negative pressure) which no airline can do much about and I am guessing actively blowing air into the cabin (and passively removing air out) create more turbulence than actively sucking air out (and passively getting air in).

HEPA filter can help when the air is being recycled (and they are) but old planes do not have these filters.

There are fancy redesign to redirect all these airflow downwards to reduce horizontal spread but I hardly believe the airlines are going to have the money, the energy or the time to do all these renovations when in theory, an effective vaccine paid for by someone else is going to make a bigger difference. 


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