The FAA Think Tank: Seat designs that look like football stadium seats

Airplane seats in the future will have a more accommodating height. Flights could seat even more passengers, the seats will be more like stadium seats (with more legroom) and restaurants will serve meals that aren’t served in a tray table.

The Transition Aeronautica concept, developed by engineers from Embraer in Brazil, looks like it belongs on the sidelines of a college football game, with mid-sized seats that lie almost flat. The seats, also designed for vertical lay-flatness, are designed to increase seat widths by about 10 inches, adding another 52 inches of overall space.

As more seats look like football stadium seats, seats on subways and bus terminals have gone from having “merely a few inches of vertical headroom to a 36-inch seat pitch,” according to Jason Garton of Garton Research.

None of this comes cheap. Full digital-screen entertainment systems with large-screen displays, Internet access, in-flight movies and TV shows, as well as complimentary meals (which customers pay for) take up much larger amounts of space.

Some of the seats might be on commercial planes, but other seats might appear on convention hotels and convention centers. This area has been roiled by another concept: vertical planes that will fly at higher altitudes, taking all the passengers up, but others of smaller, more mobile passengers, including cattle.

That creates an issue for airlines that can’t accommodate everybody on board at one time. Airbus, Boeing and other manufacturers are building models for long-range planes that have these storage compartments. And Boeing is building a cargo version of the Boeing 747 that would carry 40 to 50 cars in the tail.

Take-off weight is a bigger concern in commercial aviation now than in the past. Under FAA rules, planes must carry enough fuel for 30 minutes of flying, even if it flies for a few hours. To make longer flights more tolerable, designers are pouring more and more weight into the engine, fuselage and wings, because it’s easier to reduce the weight of the seats and other bulkheads.

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