A couple of weeks ago, I came across a somewhat controversial design scheme for airline seating thats come under fire and had a bit of bad press. Its the HD31 seat design from a French firm called Zodiac Aerospace.
Still very much in its conceptual/exploratory stage, the HD31, which stands for High Density 31-inch spacing, involves rows with pop-down hexagonal seats that form a honeycomb pattern throughout the cabin. The layout features a staggered configuration that sees two passengers facing forward, and one is facing backward. This is the part of the design that has the online design community in a frenzy. Most people are of the opinion that the design is fataly flawed and is a step down from the already less than comfy economy class setting. I however, disagree.
I think it could actually be more comfortable than existing 3 seat layouts and heres why,
The most notable criticism thus far, is the lack of personal space (like we really had any before) and the issue of having to face a total stranger, which may prove to be to close for comfort. This is not the case. The stranger’s face is going to be about 800mm in front of you and another 500mm to the left or right side, seeing as the seating is staggered. So in essence, you will be facing them but not in such a manner as to the internet would have you believe.
The HD31 offers more shoulder and elbow room and subsequently no ‘armrest wars’, thanks to this same staggered layout.
The layout also ensures passengers have more leg room as the design increases the distance between rows by 15%, adding about 100mm to what is currently obtainable.
The ‘flipup’ seats that feature in this concept allow you simply walk in to the center or window seats as opposed to having to ‘shimmy’ sideways due to the tight pitch between rows.
Now this is not to say that the idea is perfect and without flaw, for instance, I’m uncertain as to how the ergonomics of the individual seats would translate into comfort and the absence of armrest is cause for concern, so yes, the concept could use a revision or 2, however, its noteworthy, that this idea is intended for high density, short haul flights, meaning you won’t be seated for long periods of time, but for quick possibly interstate trips.
I honestly, do believe this to be a solid idea that shows a lot of potential and functionality, that would increase comfort of passengers and profit for airlines.