A handful of business class seats let you recline during a flight's taxi, take-off and landing stages – but what if you could stretch out totally flat from the moment you get on board through to when you arrive at the gate?
That's the idea behind this unique design from the boffins at B/E Aerospace: a seat which is surrounded by airbags to provide 'comfort and protection to a seat occupant'.
Revealed in a US patent application this week as an 'aircraft seat with taxi, take-off and landing lie flat capability' (we're sure a funkier name will follow), the seats described as being "designed to permit the passenger to take a lie flat position before takeoff would permit the passenger, if desired, to go to sleep even before takeoff."
It's certainly a good way to squeeze extra sleep into that period between the plane pushing back from the gate and the long slow roll along the taxiway. Just grab your dinner at the lounge and go straight from boarding to counting sheep.
"This enhanced capability would appeal to a certain segment of the public willing to pay extra for the ability to rest and/or sleep in a prone position for a longer period of the flight" B/E Aerospace states in its parent application (which you can download from this website).
But it's not just about getting to sleep sooner, B/E Aerospace argues.
"If properly restrained, a lie flat, prone position can provide greater protection against injury by surrounding the passenger with a series of deployable air bags similar to those present in motor vehicles."
The inflatable bags can also accommodate intermediate positions between bed and bolt upright.
"In accordance with a fuether embodiment of the invention the air bags are selectivly inflatable and deflatable as the seat moves between the lie flat position and the upright seating position."
If anything, the design reminds us of Cathay Pacific's first generation of lie-flat business class seats: known within the airline as FB1 or the Hercules design, although less kind travellers dubbed them 'cubicle class' or even 'coffin class' due to the high walls and prone position.
However, B/E Aerospace has plenty of form when it comes to airline seating.
The company's off-the-shelf designs are behind Qatar's latest business class (as seen on the Gulf airline's Airbus A350, above, as well as the A380 superjumbo and Boeing 787) and Virgin Australia's next-gen business class (below), among many others.
The company's designers also cooked up the 'Breakout' business class suite which doubles as a sky-high office.
More on new business class designs from AusBT
- Next-gen 'DoveTail' business class seat breaks cover
- Photos: British Airways Airbus A350 Club World business class prototype
- The business class seat that's really a suite
- Cathay Pacific to launch new business class in February 2016
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