Swiss’ CSeries debuts ZIM seats, full production cabin

ZÜRICH — For the Bombardier CSeries’ first passenger flight last month, the test aircraft’s stock Zodiac seats were remarkably comfortable, even pitched at 30”. The question for Swiss’ first delivered CS100 — named Kanton Zürich by a local councillor and a Swiss rapper in a ceremony in a hangar at the airline’s hub today — was how the airline would build on the remarkably #PaxEx-positive bare bones of the CSeries, and particularly whether the ZIM seats selected by Swiss would match up to the Zodiac seats on Bombardier’s test rig.

The overall RGN verdict: Swiss has made the most of this excellent aircraft for the routes that it will serve. For a start, the ZIM seats, which are new for the CSeries, are very comfortable. Moving the support system into the centre means, as ZIM President Angelika Zimmermann told RGN, a gain of between one and one and a half inches in actual knee space.

“The main reason for that was to give more comfort and space of the passenger. If you look at a human, we do not need space in the middle, you need it on the right and on the left side. So we did a lot of internal work, a lot of discussions and workshops on how to increase this space,” Zimmerman explained. “We decided to go this way. There are a few things you have to look into in more detail. If you need to take around 80 kilograms you have to be sure that it’s stiff enough. It’s patented by us, and I think that it’s a real advantage for the passenger.”

With Swiss’ 30” pitch throughout the CS100, this makes for a remarkably spacious feel. The stitching and the deep chocolate brown leather bring a premium feel to the cabin as well.

The forward and aft lavatories, too, are just as spacious as Bombardier created them. Notably, these lavatories’ location forward of door 1L and to the rear of door 2L — in other words, out of the way of the seat track — mean that they are unlikely to be shrunk in order to squeeze in any extra rows of seats.

Swiss has also installed full B/E Aerospace galley equipment, including ovens.

Overhead mini screens, which were not present in the test aircraft, show the safety video (which is currently a manual process for the flight attendants on the Avro RJ the CSeries will replace), as well as highlight important information like whether a PA is in progress, display the moving map, and help to brand the cabin.

Mini overhead screens are a new twist Image: John Walton

Mini overhead screens are a new twist Image: John Walton

kontron newestIn an age when many people have headphones on even before they sit down, the addition of mini screens is a smart communications methodology — and, potentially, a revenue opportunity. Pleasingly, individual air blowers are above every seat.

Less positively, though, is the lack of any extra pitch in the business class zone of the CSeries. Even with the space-saving ZIM seats, business travellers will still find using a laptop to require contortion.

Unique to ZIM and, the company’s president tells RGN, developed from the automotive world, the chrome band around each seat brightens the cabin. But the surface picks up fingerprints even from clean hands.

Given the utilisation of these aircraft and the quick turns they make, this may not be the wisest of plans.

The chrome bands around each seat brighten the cabin Image: John Walton

The chrome bands around each seat brighten the cabin Image: John Walton

All in all, Swiss is to be praised for both its selection of the CSeries and for the way it has outfitted them. This is going to be a popular aircraft, and a step above competing airlines — and airframers.

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