Airbus, Geven unveil hybrid “Settee Corner” business-economy concept

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Inside Airbus’ A320neo mockup at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this week sits one of the strangest seating products ever to see the light of day. The “Settee Corner”, a concept conceived by Airbus and manufactured in this demonstration version by Geven, is in its essence an economy class seat for certification purposes, with a substantial side mattress area for relaxing and sleeping — which the airframer and seatmaker believe will require less stringent certification as it its not occupied for taxi, takeoff and landing.

The intention is that the seat immediately adjacent to the aisle is certified to the full 16g requirement, says Airbus’ vice president cabin marketing Ingo Wuggetzer, who tells Runway Girl Network that “it’s very low-cost and low-weight. It’s one seat that is certified [to 16g], and then you have a bench that is only certified to 9g that you can use for sleeping. That’s why it’s light, and cheap, and providing a business class seating comfort — not at the highest level, but very efficient. You could do that for single-aisle, but you could also do it for an A330 long-range LOPA.”

Only the aisle-adjacent corner will, the partners think, need to be certified to 16g. Image John Walton

Airbus’ marketing material highlights the seat’s potential use for an A321LR, and suggests that the seat is “up to 30% lighter than other full-flat business class products”, and that its total cost of ownership is optimized, with an “affordable seat without complex mechanisms, reliable and easy to maintain”.

The demonstrated version is pitched at 34”, but the idea is to consider the seat pitched from 32”, Amalia Martinez-Martin, Airbus business line leader for tailored equipment within the airframer’s interiors services section, tells RGN, noting that that the concept and intellectual property lie within Airbus, but that the demonstrator has been built by Italian seatmaker Geven.

“Airbus has Stelia in-house as a seat manufacturer, but Stelia is not specialized in economy class seats,” Martinez-Martin says. “The aim of this product was to come not for a new development, but to use an existing seat structure, very light, to just make a modification to the shape. That’s why we went to work with Geven.”

There’s not a huge amount of space to lie down, even for shorter passengers. Image: John Walton

Continues Geven operation manager Francesco Varriale, “we started in September with Airbus, and we started with them by analysing the first patent they showed us. They’ve already shown us the first patent, their first solution concept, but we started together to design the seats and develop [them].”

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As the first step, Varriale tells RGN, “we evaluated what parts of the seat needed to be certified as a seat and what part as interiors. This is a point we have not yet defined, because in terms of weight there is an advantage considering all the seat as a seat to certify them as 16g, but in terms of customization and flexibility, it is better to divide the takeoff and landing place from the relax and sleeping place, due to the fact that when customization is needed, when you want change you have to repeat the HIC [head injury criterion] test. If you consider, for example, only the takeoff and landing place as a seat you can optimize the HIC condition and certify for interiors the other two places.”

The seat itself is not a true derivative of any Geven product, although the company did reuse a solution that it had created for its Essenza ultra-slimline economy class seat on one leg.

“We developed since September the primary structure and all the composite shells,” Varriale explains, highlighting the close partnership Geven and Airbus had. “We discussed together with Airbus and their designer, and we worked very strongly with the team with weekly calls and meetings to obtain the best compromise in the lowest time. We are fully involved in the design, certification and manufacturing of the seats.”

“Now,” Varriale says, “we are waiting for the results of the Expo.”

The idea is that passengers move to the relaxation area after takeoff. Image: John Walton

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