Aircraft interior image of Recaro seats in blue with grey thermoplastics used for the seatbacks and tray tables.

Quick-turn, low-customisation seat shipsets gain momentum

Details and Design banner with text on graph paper backgroundBefore the Covid pandemic hit, seatmakers were testing out a limited number of quick-turn, fast track seat programmes for delivery in a matter of weeks, balancing production speed with very limited customisability. With the disruption to the industry from Covid, the demand for these all-economy seat cabins — the norm for low-cost carriers worldwide and for two-class Eurobusiness layouts in Europe — has exploded. 

Drivers behind this growth include factory-fresh not-taken-up aircraft requiring new cabins, early returns of aircraft from previous airline operators featuring a cabin layout differing from the requirements of the new lessee, as well as new startup and successor airlines wanting brand consistency within their cabins. 

Recaro chief executive officer Mark Hiller tells Runway Girl Network that “the demand before the pandemic was certainly there, and we have only seen it grow exponentially since then. It’s mostly the result of the quick change of aircraft between lessors and an increase of airlines in the market also needing seats quickly. In 2022 we sold more than double of the SPRINT seats compared to 2021.”

SPRINT offers Recaro’s preconfigured BL3530 slimline, where customers can choose only the material and colour of their seat cover, with delivery of the shipset within eight weeks of ordering for the Boeing 737 (including MAX) and Airbus A320 (including neo) families.

RECARO BL3530 economy class seat is in sets of 3 on an aircraft. The seats are made up of blue cushions and grey thermoplastics.

Under SPRINT, lessors can customize Recaro’s BL3530 with one of five different predefined e-leather dress covers: light blue, dark blue, light grey, dark grey or red. Image: Recaro

The German seatmaker also offers SWIFT, a preconfigured BL3710 with a four-month turnaround allowing dress cover customisation, and SMART, a BL3710 with a seven-month turnaround. Both offer additional customisation options including power, connectivity and comfort features.


For Safran Seats, spokesperson Amélia Dedić-Roques explains that “the pandemic resulted in a large number of aircraft moving from their current operators, but these aircraft did not necessarily re-enter service right away due to drastically reduced air travel. As air travel continues to recover, these aircraft will re-enter service with their current or new operators, and we expect to see a continued need to support lessors and airlines with refreshed cabin interiors.”

Safran offers its Z85 seat as part of its FLASH programme, initially for the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 and A321, with later expansion to the 737 MAX, A320neo and A330 families, again focussing on lessors. Since 2018, it has delivered over 95 aircraft shipsets for 17 lessors, and on a recent tour of the seatmaker’s Issoudun factory RGN observed multiple airlines’ seats in production.

“The lessors’ unique need to transition aircraft between operators, often with different cabin specifications, required a solution to minimise the aircraft downtime for reconfiguration,” Dedić-Roques says. “Additionally, this solution needed to incorporate the latest safety regulations and to maintain flexibility to adapt to existing aircraft. FLASH seating is designed to serve well all airlines that may be introducing leased aircraft as the second or third operator. These seats have also successfully supported the quick introduction of new aircraft that required reconfiguration, such as stored 737 MAX.”

Aircraft interiors giant Collins Aerospace, meanwhile, offers its Meridian main cabin seat in a ‘Quick Turn’ (QT) specification, which is available to customers in as little as eight to 12 weeks.

Launched in 2016, and optimised for narrowbody aircraft, Meridian is a flexible, scalable product pre-certified on the A320, A220 and 737 aircraft families. This seating platform is “the most popular narrowbody main cabin seat in the world with more than 600,000 seats flying today“, says the firm, and its pre-certified Quick Turn configurations significantly reduce seating lead times, which traditionally take anywhere from eight to 12 months.

“We have seen an increasing demand for Quick Turn seating programs from the aircraft leasing community in the past several years and anticipate a high level of interest this to continue and grow,” says a Collins spokesman. “Lessors choosing the Meridian QT have the option of multiple 737 family and A320 family layouts in different color combinations.”

Aviation’s pathway forward out of the Covid shutdown remains strongly regionally focussed, with major disruptors like China’s ongoing travel restrictions and the overflight bans resulting from Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine combining with mergers, acquisitions and growth in domestic and regional travel elsewhere.

“The future,” says Recaro’s Hiller, “is focused on single-aisle aircraft and expansion plans for customers and lessors with a short-term need for seats, such as lessors and new start-up airlines. As manufacturing technology continues to advance, it will be easier to further improve lead time, pricing, basic seat features, et cetera.”

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Featured image credited to Recaro