Aerospace company patents a terrible idea for airplane seating arrangement

Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 8.43.37 AMZodiac Aerospace, a large global aerospace supplier headquartered in France, has come up with an idea to squeeze more passengers on a plane: turn the middle seat in a three-seat row around, and eliminate the armrests. This way, the middle seat passenger will face the passengers in the aisle and window seats.

The Oregonian calls Zodiac’s idea to “jam even more of us into economy class” a patented rendition of “airline seating from hell.

Yes, as if air travel is not bad enough, now a French company named Zodiac Aerospace has patented its “solution” to the problem of how to jam even more of us into economy class. They do it by plac[ing] seats in an alternating pattern of forward-facing and rear-facing seats, using flip-up seats to allow access.

Christopher Elliott, who writes the Travel Troubleshooter column (seen in Sunday A&E print section), is no fan of this concept: “These seats are the latest bad idea in a series of bad ideas on how to squeeze more passengers on the plane.

“When I see a seat concept like this, my first thought is: There ought to be a law against it. I mean, shouldn’t we have minimum seat standards in the United States? We already have rules for how you treat dogs in the cargo hold — why not for people?”

Elliott has noted in past columns that the pitch, or distance between seats, has been whittled away over the years as airlines cram more people in. And airlines have also slimmed the width of seats to get an extra seat per row when possible.

Zodiac presents the idea in a video, claiming short haul/high density with “no more elbow fights,” foldable seats, a cup holder, and a literature pocket:

Zodiac’s idea for face-to-face seating is not yet in use, but many airline cost-cutting ideas are in use or have been tried. The distance between seats (ie, ‘seat pitch’) has been shrinking, for example. Some ideas are simply dangerous, like eliminating the co-pilot. Other ideas border on crazy. At one point, a Dublin-based economy airliner cut down to one toilet on a plane and charged passengers to use it. The same airline came up with the idea of vertical standing room only seating at the back of the plane- which they would likely be doing but for safety concerns.

Deregulation and privatization have allowed airlines to turn to outsourcing of just about everything they can, including aircraft repairs and maintenance.

Industry analysts say there are roughly 700 FAA-approved repair companies in other countries — including repair shops in Argentina, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, China and Indonesia. The Aeroman company in El Salvador is becoming one of the more popular, drawing business from US Airways, JetBlue, Frontier, Southwest and other U.S. carriers.

The way the system works, the airlines fly empty planes needing an overhaul to Aeroman’s hangars at the international airport near the capital, San Salvador. Salvadoran mechanics strip the inside of the plane down to the bare metal. They fix cracks and rust and bad wiring. Then they put everything back together, and the plane is flown back to the U.S.

Meanwhile, last week an explosion at a Zodiac Airspace plant in Newport, Washington injured five people (two severely), and severely damaged the plant. The plant supplies products to Boeing and Airbus. Bizjournal reports:

Newport facility employees worked with a DuPont material called Nomex, Uptagrafft said.

Nomex is a synthetic honeycomb material, which is lightweight and flame retardant.
The explosion itself, which injured five, one of them critically, may have been caused by fumes from a “treater,” which heats resins and squeezes them into composite material, said Pend Oreille County Undersheriff Grant Sirevog, on Wednesday.

Image is a screen shot from a promotional video created by Zodiac Aerospace.

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