Factorydesign invents airline seat that twists with the body
Long-haul flights in Economy Class could become considerably more comfortable if the ingenious Twister seat concept designed by Factorydesign takes off.
While improvements in comfort generally focus on First and Business Class, Factorydesign – the agency responsible for Etihad’s luxurious VIP Residence suite - recognised that Economy Class customers also deserve some innovation. This is particularly relevant given the current renaissance in so-called ‘ultra-long-haul’ flying.
Conventional Economy Class seats rely on a hinge mechanism to give passengers around 5 inches of seat recline. The revolutionary Twister seat has a brand new patented structure that mimics the human spine, recognising that our bodies twist to get comfortable, rather than fold like a hinge. It comprises a vertical ‘backbone’ with ‘ribs’ along its length and along the seat pan. These ‘ribs’ move as the passenger’s weight shifted to maintain a shape that is extremely comfortable and ergonomically sound. “From your shoulders to your thighs, the seat follows your profile as you move,” said Adam White, joint creative director of Factorydesign. He came up with the initial concept on a 14-hour flight from Japan in Economy Class.
A passenger in a Twister seat could lean in one direction or curl up in another, and press a control button to hold the seat in that position. By releasing the button, the seat would return to the neutral position.
Because the Twister seat distributes body weight more evenly, it helps avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis. “You wouldn’t get a pressure point under the thigh, which would be a significant health benefit,” said White.
Factorydesign’s concept takes up the same amount of room than as a standard Economy Class seat, and operates in the same envelope.
“We see this as a long-haul product. This is all about duration seating,” said White. He adds, “There has been considerable debate about economy class seating in the media, and many concepts which don’t actually seem to have considered the needs of the passenger. This design is completely centred around improving the passenger journey experience.” It comes at a time when Emirates launches its 17-hour flights from Dubai to Panama City, and when Boeing and Airbus are designing extended range aircraft.
Factorydesign has also worked on a number projects with leading aircraft seat manufacturers Acro and Thompson over a number of years.
White adds: “Over the next five years, new fuel-efficient technology, and lower oil prices will lead to a rapid expansion of long haul flights on aircraft such as the Airbus A350-900ULR and Boeing 777-8. This means there will be a pressing need for all passengers, whether they are paying for premium tickets, or flying economy to have more comfortable seats. The Twister meets that need.”
“Next year, Emirates will launch its Dubai to Panama City flight, taking 17 hours and 35 minutes. Qantas plans to fly non-stop to Europe from Australia from 2017, and the following year Singapore Airlines will launch a Singapore to New York flight which would take around 19 hours. All these ultra-long flights present a challenge for airlines and their designers at a time that passenger-experience is all important.”
“The challenge is to ignore pre-conceived notions about what is accepted in airline design and start from looking at what the passenger truly needs. Traditional seat design has fulfilled many needs, but studying the human body means that we have created something that will transform the flying experience.
“We have worked closely with ergonomists to ensure that our initial concept really does work with the body to improve comfort.”
“The Twister also helps solve some of the health issues associated with long haul flying. As the passenger is properly supported and can move regularly to maintain that comfort throughout the flight, the problems of sitting in a fixed position are largely removed.”