With almost the entire world shut down, and air travel down over 80% (as per IATA), air travel will look very different when it comes back. For sure, right now there won’t be enough passengers to fly so that social distancing will be sort of automatic. Otherwise, airlines are already working on keeping middle seats empty for now.
But, there will need to be a longer-term solution in place for when aircraft will be back to full capacity. There is no visibility at the moment on how quickly will the CoronaVirus be gone, but longer-term, the business of airlines to fly at full capacity will be affected until they can safely pack together six passengers in a row on a narrowbody and 10 in a row on a widebody.
There is a new proposition in the market from Italian seat maker Aviointeriors called Janus. Janus is a concept for now, for sure, but with this, Aviointeriors intends to start a conversation with airlines about flying safely in a post coronavirus era.
Like you can see, the new product intends to make a forward/backward economy class product, similar to how British Airways old Club World product is, in a yin/yang arrangement.
As per AvioInteriors, like two-faced Janus, the god of Ancient Rome, this proposal is distinguished by the reverse position of the centre seat of the triple to ensure the maximum isolation between passengers seated next to each other. While passengers sitting on the side seats, aisle and fuselage, continue to be positioned in the flight direction, as usual, the passenger sitting in the centre is facing backwards.
So Janus is a two-faced seat this arrangement allows all three passengers to be separated with a shield made of transparent material that isolates them from each other, creating a protective barrier for everyone. Each passenger has its own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle. Each place of the Janus seat is surrounded on three sides by a high shield that prevents the breath propagation to occupants of adjacent seats.
But, while this looks like a good concept, I’m not sure how will it help with the even higher touch environment it will bring into the picture if this concept sees the light of the day.
For airlines which can’t do a full fitting, perhaps they might be interested in a retrofit proposal. Aviointeriors also has another retrofit proposal to fit the existing seats with glass shields called Glassafe. Think of it as a clip-on, quick and dirty solution for seats manufactured by any seat manufacturer, such as Recaro.
A kit-level solution that can be installed on existing seats to make proximity safer among passengers sharing the same seat, Glassafe is made of transparent material to make the entire cabin harmonious and aesthetically light, but perfectly fulfilling the objective of creating an isolated volume around the passenger to avoid or minimize contacts and interactions via air between passenger and passenger, to reduce the probability of contamination by viruses or other.
This proposal is a good starting point, but there is so much more to answer, which we don’t know about. For instance, airlines have been on a substantial cost-cutting spree all this while, which is why you see almost zilch padding on the seats. Will this be reversed and airlines will now be willing to carry more weight on the planes. Also, what about all the new touch surfaces which will need to be cleaned up. And while aircraft manufacturers have been trying to give more space to customers, will customers find this too claustrophobic? And what about the impact on passenger safety?
I know aviation will change after this pandemic, but how soon and how much/how little, we don’t know.
There is so much more to know and to find out, but this is a good starting point. What do you think about the new Aviointeriors concept?