AliceBluAero execs celebrate key milestones. Image: AliceBluAero

AliceBluAero hits key approval milestones, reveals new business seats


As airlines seek alternatives to the major seat suppliers amid capacity, production and quality issues, Northern Ireland-based seatmaker AliceBluAero is making strides towards production of its first seat — and eyeing more.

Development testing is complete for its first seat, the narrowbody outward-facing herringbone Quantum, while the company is pivoting fast to the widebody retrofit market with a widebody version of Quantum. It’s also working on a second product line, Gemini, a forward-facing fully flat seat aimed both at 2-2-2 configurations on widebodies and on 2-2 layouts on narrowbodies.

A major milestone for AliceBluAero is a set of certification achievements for the Quantum fully flat herringbone product, which it has previously shown at the Aircraft Interiors Expo.

A close up of the Quantum business class seat side table by AliceBluAero

The angle of Quantum will inherently need to change for a widebody implementation. Image: AliceBluAero

Luke Smith, vice president for engineering and head of airworthiness tells Runway Girl Network: “we recently just finished all of our development testing, which covered the 16g pitch and roll in both orientations, the 14g downwards and HIC. We’re very happy with how the development testing all went, and we are in the process now of proceeding into the certification process.”

Indeed, managing director Ryan McNeice adds, both HIC testing and the 14g downward loads were under half of the allowables, an impressive achievement. The next steps in the certification process will be under the UK CAA at fellow seatmaker Mirus’ M-TEST facility in Norfolk in the east of England. While securing its Production Organisation Approval under part 21G, AliceBluAero geared itself towards the ramp-up capacity it expects to arrive in 2025 rather than the initial capacity of some 500 passenger seats per year that it can produce at present.

“We are making sure that it’s set, it’s LEANed, it’s got its takt times, we’re doing just in time buying and we’re also doing like pull system rather than a push system,” vice president for quality Claire Stranaghan tells RGN. “So the whole production system will just automatically run itself unless there’s an issue.”


Stranaghan explains that the just-in-time model is supported by a supply chain design where roughly 80% is local, leaning firmly into the informal Northern Ireland passenger experience supply chain that includes capable industry stalwarts like Donite Plastics. The remainder include materials like Kydex thermoplastics that arrive from the US.

The model certainly seems to be appealing to prospective airline customers, not least in the context of much-discussed capacity and production issues with major suppliers across the industry. Many airlines, according to AliceBluAero, are being quoted two-plus year lead times for even a standard programme.

For AliceBluAero, says head of sales Dave Spalding, the selling point is “a level of customisation — it’s also complete flexibility. Literally, we’re prepared to work with an airline to develop a seat bespoke to them. We’ve offered that to many of the large airlines that have talked to us, and I think they’ve been really impressed with the fact that we’re prepared to actually work with them. We will be 100% focused on our launch customer, and they’ve really liked that messaging.”

Gemini forward facing business class seat by AliceBluAero is seen in this rendering of a cabin interior with warm tones.

Gemini, the second seat model, is a forward-facing product. Image: AliceBluAero

Much of the interest from airlines comes for retrofit programmes for the earlier models of Airbus A350, many of which launched with onboard product that has now been superseded by the market, and for A330 aircraft that are ready for refurbishment. With the delays to the 777X, the retirement of many A380s and the resulting widebody capacity crunch as the industry expands again, both the herringbone Quantum and forward-facing Gemini may find an enthusiastic airline audience.

With what Spalding characterises as “several significant airlines — not just startups” interested and Part 21G approval now secured, this looks like a seatmaker to watch out for.

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Featured image credited AliceBluAero