Boeing's all-new business class seat brings a fully flat bed and direct aisle access to single-aisle jets – and yes, that includes its staunch rival, the Airbus A320 family.
Dubbed Aspect, it's the lie-flat fruit of a joint venture between Boeing and automotive seatmaker Adient: and it lands at a time when airlines, in 'shrink to survive' mode, are rethinking their fleets and the role of smaller but longer-range jets like the Boeing 737 MAX 10 and Airbus' A321neo LR and XLR models.
Those efficient jets will be suited to the post-coronavirus capacity crunch, but premium passengers will still expect the creature comforts of bigger twin-aisle aircraft.
After all, with the Airbus A321XLR touting a range of 9+ hours – sufficient for popular routes such as Sydney-Tokyo as well as the highly competitive trans-Atlantic corridor – airlines don't want to be asking their highest-paying passengers to make do with two-across recliners.
“As the market returns we think it only accelerates that [shift] and points towards narrow-body aircraft becoming very prevalent in future,” Adient Aerospace CEO Andy Masson has noted.
The firm is already in "advanced discussions with a number of potential customers," although no orders have been inked and the product likely wouldn't take wing until late 2021 or early 2022.
The Aspect is a follow-up to the Ascent, which will make its debut on Hawaiian Airlines' new Boeing 787-9s in 2021 and is shown below in basic 'catalogue' form, which airlines can and in most cases will style to suit their brand.
Highlights include ample working and storage space, wireless charging and optional sliding doors for greater privacy.
As shown in this earlier concept design, the Ascent not only converts into a lie-flat bed but allows the paired middle seats to become a cosy double bed – a trait which was particularly appealing to Hawaiian Airlines, given the carrier's high number of leisure passengers travelling in pairs.
Adient Aerospace also offers a higher-spec version dubbed the Ascent Signature Suite which turns the four seats in the front row of the cabin into a more spacious 'business plus' experience.