Airlines with Airbus planes in their fleets may soon find themselves flooded with annoyed passengers, likely to be shifty and uncomfortable as they sit on — or rather, mount — a never-before-seen airplane seat.
Airbus filed a patent application in June for a "seating device comprising a forward-foldable backrest," or what appears to be a bike saddle meets ergonomic office chair meets movie theater seat. The patent states that the new seat will reduce bulk: the cushions and headrests have been eliminated, and armrests are smaller than usual. With the new seat, Airbus hopes to transport more passengers with its existing aircrafts in order to maximize return, as competitive low-cost airlines stake their ground by boarding travelers willing to trade comfort for affordability.
"In all cases, this increase in the number of seats is achieved to the detriment of the comfort of the passengers," the patent states. "However, this remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours."
The new patent, designed by Bernard Guering, seems to be the inventor's latest contribution in the push to economize air travel. (Guering has already filed patents for deployable benches to accommodate baggage, storage compartments in the nose gear, and a crew hang-out spot in the plane's tail.) But seats similar to Guering's proposal, in fact, do already exist: the SkyRider, for example, debuted in 2010, but the saddle seat has not yet made its way onto planes. More radical ideas have been proposed, such as RyanAir's standing "seat," which faces an uphill battle with licensing and safety requirements.
Slimmer, lighter seats for Airbus planes were picked up by United Airlines in 2012.