Is United going aisle-access in business with Recaro seat?

United’s likely Boeing 777-300ER seat map LOPA (layout of passenger accommodation) has been revealed by aviation journalist Brian Sumersand while the back of the bus is as thigh-crushingly narrow as expected, it would seem that United is débuting a new business class up front — and potentially from a new supplier.

Image from Brian Sumers

Image from Brian Sumers

The provenance of this LOPA is unconfirmed, but the seat looks remarkably like Recaro’s ComfortLine CL6710 business class seats, which the seatmaker was displaying at last year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, and which Runway Girl Network had the opportunity to explore at length.

If so, it would be the first announced customer for CL6710, and indeed Recaro’s first longhaul business class win amidst a market where competitors Zodiac and B/E Aerospace have suffered embarrassing seat production and certification delays.

It would also be a big loss for B/E Aerospace, a longtime customer of Continental and later United. B/E’s fully flat Diamond seat is seen on numerous United aircraft, including the Boeing 757, 787, and ex-CO 767 and 777 fleets.

Neither United nor Recaro has yet responded to RGN’s queries, yet if this isn’t the CL6710 then some intellectual property lawyers are likely to have a very profitable year.

CL6710 is a mixture of styles: both slightly herringboned and staggered, and United’s LOPA notably shows the slight angle at which the seats interweave in each column of ten seats, which enables the seatmaker to make the most of both the wider 777 cabin diameter and the fact that human beings are wider at the shoulders than at the ankles.

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Image Credit Brian Sumers

Interweaving, like the yin-yang configuration pioneered by British Airways, allows for the widest part of the seat — at shoulder level in bed mode and at elbow level in seated mode — to overlap with the narrowest foot area part of the seat next to it.

kontron nowThe resemblance isn’t just the “honeymoon” seat pairs in the middle section, which are also common to the Stelia (formerly Sogerma) Solstys seat, as seen on Etihad’s previous business class product, Alitalia, and other airlines. (Stelia, too, has not responded to RGN’s query about whether it is the supplier, but it was not showing a seat similar to CL6710 at AIX last year.)

Some rough analysis of the geometry in the seat map also suggests the Recaro CL6710. “The ratio 1 to 1.8 is Recaro’s formula for success,” the seatmaker said when it launched the seat. “The key number reflects the ratio of pitch to bed length in the new business class seat CL6710. With a seat pitch of 46 inches, Recaro can provide a bed length of up to 82 inches – and thus makes optimal use of the available space.”

One advantage of the Recaro seat is weight. “The CL6710 reaches a weight of just 80 kilograms depending on aircraft type, layout and individual configuration. The seat design bases on innovative lightweight materials. The reduced complexity of the overall seat design also saves weight,” the seatmaker highlighted.

seat

Recaro CL6710. Image: Recaro

It’s unclear whether United will be taking advantage of the wireless charging and app-based seat control options that Recaro demonstrated at AIX.

CL6710 business class seat - Recaro at AIX 2015 - Image John Walton

CL6710 business class seat – Recaro at AIX 2015 – Image John Walton

Economy, meanwhile, is confirmed as 3-4-3, the new lowest common denominator for airline passenger experience, without even a 3-3-3 Economy Plus section — let alone a premium economy cabin — to give passengers an option in what Airbus calls the Comfort Canyon between 17” narrow economy seats and fully flat beds with direct aisle access in business class.

RGN will update this post with information from United, Recaro and Stelia as we receive it.

CL6710 business class seat - Recaro at AIX 2015 - IMG_6921

CL6710 business class seat – Recaro at AIX 2015. Image: John Walton

9 Comments

  1. I’m so sick of seeing airlines add weight in the front rows (heavy, luxurious seats), whereas in cattle class, every saved gram counts. It’s really the very same division we see in society nowadays, between the very rich ones and the normal, relatively poor ones.

  2. Pingback: United's New International Business Class Seat and How to Get IHG to Make Good on Missing Contest Entries - View from the Wing

  3. Zoltan Kodaly

    Well it’s neither a Recaro/ B/E / Stelia or Optimares seat (you can guess who that leaves) so indeed that lawyers might get busy if indeed Recaro has some patents on it. You will see it normally at the AIX in Hamburg I guess.

  4. Nick

    After 15 years nearly a million miles and a fiasco of a year being Platinum 1K I(my last – if thats how they treat premium customers …) I know fly Delta. This configuration confirms my nick name for United that I have been using for years now: The Easy Jet of the legacy carriers. I guess for people who like to be uncomfortable and want a cheap seats this will be your go to airline. Oh and is it just me or don’t this seats seem angled flat and not fully flat given the picture shown above? Not sure why I waited so long to leave this truly horrid airline. Oh they have one of the best route maps out of NYC! But in the end that isn’t enough.

    • KW

      The angle is by design, even all the tray tables are angled at about 3 degrees because when the plane is in flight, it is angled by that much making it equal out.

  5. Yavor Gospodinov

    The seat map is inconsistent with the seat pictures used on this article! On one hand we have the new ‘Polaris’ business class suite seat map presented on their new 77W, while the pictures themselves showcase completely different premium seat model – the Recaro’s CL6710 business product!