These high-tech business class seats clean and sanitise themselves

Innovative ‘Pure Skies’ concept examines new materials and technology for peace of mind in post-pandemic travel.

By David Flynn, January 11 2022
These high-tech business class seats clean and sanitise themselves

Passengers and airlines alike have become more mindful of safeguarding inflight health in the wake of the pandemic, which has in turn sparked fresh thinking on the design of business class and economy seats.

As you’d expect, personal space and a greater sense of distancing from other passengers comes to the fore.

But there’s also innovation in the materials being used, such as fabrics and surfaces which clean themselves.

That’s just one unique feature of the Pure Skies project, developed by London-based design doyens PriestmanGoode as a showcase for the company’s approach to reshaping the travel experience. 

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

“Pure Skies was developed in response to the global pandemic and proposes a raft of design ideas offering a road map towards future growth and passenger satisfaction in the aviation industry,” the company explains.

“The concept addresses consumer, business and environmental concerns with designs based on improving personal space, hygiene and safety.”

PriestmanGoode’s work will be immediately familiar to many frequent flyers – the firm helped develop Qatar Airways’ Qsuites and its Airbus A380 lounge, as well as United Airline’s Polaris business class suites and lounges. It also works behind the scenes with Airbus on everything from the original A380 concept to the advanced Airspace cabins of the A350 and A320neo family of jets.

Pure Skies’ business class ‘rooms’ – enclosed private spaces which swap a sliding door for a full-length curtain – may also strike a chord.

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

It’s a similar approach used by PriestmanGoode in shaping Air France’s Boeing 777 first class suites.

Air France's Boeing 777 first class.
Air France's Boeing 777 first class.

To enhance privacy and reduce shared touchpoints, each Pure Skies business class suite provides the passenger with their own overhead luggage bin as well as a personal wardrobe.

But Pure Skies quite literally goes deeper than just what’s on the surface.

“New developments in material properties and cleaning technologies have the potential to transform the onboard environment with new lines of defence for sanitation,” PriestmanGoode espouses.

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

“Pure Skies looks at including UVC cleaning and fogging, in addition to manual processes, in combination with antimicrobial finishes embedded within fabrics and surfaces to enhance the efficacy of cleaning.”

The company says it’s also integrated “thermochromic and photochromic inks that, in combination with heat cleaning, can display a message of reassurance on the surfaces themselves.”

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

This addresses the issue of how the concept of ‘clean’ is communicated, with each suite’s video screen reporting the progress of these regular self-cleaning sweeps.

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

Meanwhile, the construction of the business class seats themselves uses “seam tapes and seat shells” to minimise potential dirt traps.

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

But Pure Skies hasn’t overlooked the economy cabin, which is still where most people fly and where most crowding occurs.

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

PriestmanGoode’s approach was to adopt a staggered seat design where one of every three seats is offset to the rest, allowing passengers “to choose whether they want an increased sense of space, as well as allow those travelling together to sit together.”

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

Also noticeable are the tall transparent shields between rows in the economy cabin – and, less obvious, an increased reliance on letting passengers use their own devices and technology.

PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.
PriestmanGoode's innovative Pure Skies concept strives for peace of mind among post-pandemic travellers.

“Pure Skies is very much about rethinking the interactions required throughout the journey and minimising or removing them, as well making it easier for passengers to customise their journey through their own device,” PriestmanGoode says.

“This has been a growing trend in other industries, and will be crucial to the success of aviation going forward.”

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 118

I love 'design concepts', especially from PriestmanGoode which has a reputation for innovation. On one very specific note, the use of curtains in premium cabins is a seriously under-rated concept! Just look at how stylish and practical the AF First class cabin is, in an understated way. There's no reason why privacy and noise-reducing curtains won't work in Business class, in place of expensive sliding doors. But having said all that, and on a more realistic note, think back on how many snazzy 'design concepts' we've seen since 2000, but have NEVER been executed. More than I care to remember..........

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Mar 2018

Total posts 20

Great designs however fabric especially curtains on aircraft are terrible,after having worked on long haul planes the curtains are never cleaned,always smell and absorb everything. Although the doors are more expensive they are hygienically better.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2016

Total posts 13

I also think designs that incorporate the use of curtains are a good idea in general. Perhaps curtains are easier to remove and clean than the seat cushions?

I have always why seat design/manufacturers rarely use curtains in their designs - the only things I thought of (aside from what @Flyer86 just said) is that it might come down to safety. How risks do they pose in an emergency evacuation if they were used throughout a large cabin of business class seats? for people out of their seats during unexpected turbulence, grabbing onto a curtain would not be ideal. Are there fire risks too? Tripping hazards?

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 184

Was wondering how the economy seats recline, if at all. Sliding forwards and down? Didn’t Cathay try that?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 181

I am absolutely all for seats that are have anti-bacterial and anti-viral surface properties, and are also designed to aid cleaning by minimising places that dirt can gather - as long as they aren't seen as an alternative to proper cleaning. Because no special coating or UV light is going to remove dirt, grime, crumbs and other spilt food and drink, or bodily fluids!

Also agree with various comments re: Curtains; in theory like the idea of a fully private space (no more going to the loo to change into pyjamas) ... but also acknowledge that you can't wipe curtains clean, they have to be removed and laundered; and if that isn't done then they get crusty and gross over time. 


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