Less seat is more

Innovative »chair« seat range for VIP cabins

Since the 1960s there has been no significant development in the field of aircraft seats and armchairs for executive cabins. Modern aircraft seats for VIP and executive jets, however, don't only have to be comfortable and withstand enormous structural stresses; they should also, wherever possible, be luxurious, lightweight, and space-saving. It's a matter of course outside the aircraft, and it should be possible inside the cabin, too: the ideal of different seating furniture for different cabin situations. Until now, this demand was near enough to impossible, but now, thanks to a new philosophy of seating, it is reality. 

Lufthansa Technik AG, with the support of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) as project principle and with funding from the Department of the Economy and Innovation in the City of Hamburg, has managed to develop a completely new seat concept. As part of the three-year long "CompoSEAT" research project, completed in autumn 2013, the foundation has been laid for a completely new range of seats for VIP and executive jets. In the new industrialization project »chair«, which has developed from "CompoSEAT", close cooperation between designers and engineers is producing individual solutions for various seating situations, such as working, eating, and relaxing. »chair« combines all the advantages of modern seat furnishings and satisfies the high standards of demanding VIP clients.

The seats are for the most part constructed on a lightweight, carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) pillar, and because of their ergonomic form, tailored to the human spine, they no longer require thick padding and upholstery. Both the range of functions and the dimensions of the seat can be completely tailored to customer requirements and cabin situations. Depending on whether it is an armchair, a meeting room chair, or a dining chair, the customer can choose the design, the number of back elements, and details of footrests and headrests. The new structural concept makes more than 8,000 different configurations of the basic structure possible, laying the foundation for individual design.

One particular challenge in the development of the product has been presenting the vast range of possibilities the modular structure offers in such a way that approval can be gained with minimal effort. It was also important to represent the structure in such a slimline way that designers have optimal liberty to design. The newly developed seating philosophy offers designers a great degree of freedom. Many seating variants are possible, with space-saving design, maximum comfort, and low weight. Despite the reduced and simplified design, the new range offers the highest possible levels of comfort. Add-ons can be attached to the slimline armrests or using a special coupling system. This makes small tables, cup holders, and special mountings for tablet PCs possible. The new seats fulfil the applicable safety requirements for the necessary 16g approval (load test with deceleration 16 times the force of gravity). Initial crash tests have been carried out with very good results.

Lufthansa Technik has been working on developing the »chair« product family to market maturity since mid-2013. The first designer to come on board was Jacques Pierrejean, whose interpretation of the seat family was presented at the EBACE trade fair in May 2014 in Geneva. Three different models of the »chair« family were exhibited, the "Office", "Classic" and "Lounge". The modular design of the VIP »chair« product family received ETSO (European Technical Standard Order) certification in May 2016 for the 9g and 16g variant. The company INAIRVATION, a joint venture between Lufthansa Technik AG and the Austrian VIP interior specialist F/LIST, coordinates production and sales of the new family of seats. Initial deliveries will be possible from 2017. The innovative technical solutions are protected by a variety of patent applications, while selected designs are being registered additionally alongside trademark protection. The new »chair« seat generation provides the basis for even more enhanced safety, quality and innovative design in the VIP cabin.