Are you afraid of sitting in one place for more than 19 hours to travel? Now you’ll have a space like home while you travel to different countries or cities.
In determining the comfort and spaciousness of the seats in their aircraft, airline operators currently have an important role to play. Oedema, or deep vein thrombosis, may be a risk for passengers who remain seated for the bulk of a flight. This could be particularly important for larger individuals in certain seats of the economy class.
When ordering seats for their airplanes, airlines have several choices. These choices go a long way in determining how comfortable or uncomfortable their clients will be. One of the most carefully studied and crucial elements of seat comfort is the seat bottom.
A new combination of an airline seat and a bed for the economy class has been unveiled by U.S.-based startup, Zephyr Aerospace. This lie-flat accommodation, called the Zephyr Seat, can refit existing commercial aircraft, Boeing and Airbus while complying with airline social distance measurements.
What is Zephyr Aerospace?
A company called Zephyr Aerospace is re-imagining the economy of air travel. The innovation they think will do this is called the Zephyr Seat, designed by Jeffrey O’Neil.
Zephyr is an innovative Italian startup company operating in the field of remotely piloted aircraft systems and, more generally, aerospace and defense. A researcher developed Zephyr to utilize the results of years of academic research in terms of flight mechanics, dynamics, and control for aircraft of any scale and configuration in the business world (fixed-wing, rotary-wing, manned, unmanned, OPV). The business was founded in 2017, thanks to the incredible business idea competition. Today, Zephyr serves as an engineering consultant to key players in the mechanical and aerospace industries.
The company also differs from all the others active in the field of RPAS (drones) to be able to design remotely controlled vehicles optimized from scratch based on the client’s technical specifications. Finally, upon request, the company provides aerial services and has a private fleet of RPASs with certified pilots.
How did it all start?
Passengers have complained about the close quarters in the traveling economy class for years. But in the face of social distancing, today, there is a need to reconsider traditional seating. Fortunately, over the past few years, one man has already devised a way to give economy passengers the trip they deserve.
When flying from New York to Singapore, designer Jeffrey O’Neill first considered tackling airline seating. He wondered why, on a long-haul flight, it was not possible to devise a way for people to lie down and enjoy some sleep.
“I’m on probably the best-rated airline in the world, and I’m getting wonderful service, and the food is edible, but I can’t sleep. This is really uncomfortable. Why is it so difficult to find an affordable way to lie flat on a flight that’s 19 hours?”
And then, the idea came in!
He came up with a plan after thinking about the comfortable bus trips he had taken in Argentina, where bunk beds were used. Real estate is important on flights, so most airlines do not want their seats to be reconfigured. But, he built a double-decker 2-4-2 seating arrangement through his Zephyr Aerospace business that won’t cost airlines any seats. As luck would have it, the architecture also offers improved privacy and solitude. Something travelers are searching for now.
What is Zephyr Seat?
Zephyr Seat is a double-decker airplane seat design that would allow economy passengers a range of options. During long-haul flights, travelers could sit, lounge, or stretch out for a snooze.
The Zephyr Seat enables passengers to stretch, lounge with their feet up, or lie down. O’Neill was able to accommodate a second layer of seats by using the space between an existing seat and the overhead locker. And, best of all, for most cabins, the current configuration can be upgraded, a perfect opportunity for airlines to make the move.
“We basically refitted a whole other seat on top of another,” shares O’Neill. “So, it’s essentially two levels. It’s not as high off the ground as people might imagine. It’s only four and a half feet off the ground from the entry point to the lower seat to the upper seat.”
O’Neill has been bringing the Zephyr Seat from idea to a mock-up for the past two years and has already found an engineering partner. At the 2019 Airline Interiors Expo in Germany, he first presented his concept to the aviation sector and used input from airlines to then tweak the product. Although he has been in negotiations with some big airlines, there’s still nothing concrete. But, with the coronavirus likely to change the way we fly, it wouldn’t be shocking if his phone starts ringing off the hook.
The Zephyr Seat will now be required to pass safety inspections for things to go forward. This could take about three years, so we’re quite a long way from being able to travel in style within the economy class. The U.S.-based startup is currently accepting investors if you believe in the product and are interested in getting involved.