It brings a whole new meaning to the term cattle class, a plane seat that is shaped like a saddle and could allow airlines to squeeze in even more passengers.
Named the ‘Skyrider’, the new seat design is set to be unveiled in America this week and promises to attract plenty of attention from airlines looking to increase the number of seats in the economy class sections of planes, apparently without compromising on comfort.
Passengers sit at an angle with just 23 inches of legroom between them and the seat in front – a whopping seven inches less than the current average seat pitch of around 30 inches.
The concept, designed by Italian aircraft seat design company Aviointeriors, could especially appeal to no-frills carriers who are keen to make flights more profitable. Earlier this year, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary suggested the Irish airline may soon carry a number of ‘vertical seats’, although plans seem to have been scuppered by European aviation authorities.
Plane crazy: Earlier this year Michael O’Leary announced plans for vertical seating – where passengers would perch for the duration of a flight – on Ryanair planes
The Skyrider is to make its debut at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, California and is styled on saddles used by cowboys in the Wild West – the makers claim you can sit on a horse for long periods of time and not feel discomfort.
Several airlines have already expressed an interest according to Dominique Menoud, director general of Aviointeriors Group: ‘We feel extremely confident that this concept will have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes.’
‘For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours this would be comfortable seating,’ he adds. ‘The seat is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle.’
Passengers would pay less to sit in an area of the cabin installed with the seats.
In July this year, Ryanair’s O’Leary said his airline would offer vertical seats – essentially passengers would perch on a narrow shelf and lean against a flat padded backboard – for as little as £4 each way.
The company’s colourful chief executive said he would remove the back ten rows of seats from 250 planes and replace them with 15 rows of so-called ‘vertical seating’.
They would be restrained with a strap stretching over their shoulder, the budget airline said. But the bizarre initiative ran into an immediate obstacle. European aviation safety regulators said the perches would not meet safety rules.
The European Aviation Safety Agency based in Cologne, Germany, dismissed the plans saying: ‘To our knowledge, no airlines or other operators have made an application for stand-up seats,’ a spokesman said.
‘What they are proposing would be unprecedented and highly unlikely to be certified in the near future.
‘Stand-up seating would require changes to European rules for the certification of aircraft. The current rules determine that each passenger has to be provided with “a seat or, if they are immobile, a berth”. This is neither.’
This isn’t a problem the Skyrider is likely to encounter as it is effectively a seat. Gaetano Perugini, Aviointeriors’ director of research and development who created the seat said at no point was the company suggesting passengers stand.
‘Even though the (distance between seats) is extremely narrow, we are talking about seats, not about having passengers simply standing on the floor,’ he says. ‘You are sitting on a special seat, but it is a seat.’
If a European carrier commits to installing the seats on their aircraft then the company would apply to aviation authorities for proper certification, said Menoud.