United's Polaris seat took off last month. Image: United Airlines

United’s Polaris seat took off last month. Image: United Airlines

Here are the most-read stories from this week’s APEX Daily Experience newsletters. To receive breaking passenger experience industry news in your inbox on a daily basis, subscribe here

United CEO Says He’s “Not Happy” With Zodiac’s Seat Delays

SKIFT | MARCH 16, 2017

According to United Airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz, the carrier is “not happy” about production delays at Zodiac Aerospace’s UK seat facility, where the airline’s newly launched Polaris business-class seats are manufactured. “We have plans that are dynamic at this point, and [Zodiac] is receiving lots of beneficial support from our management team every single day,” Munoz said Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials Conference. “Rather than just be unhappy, we’ve got people on site with the folks there to make sure that we can expedite and accelerate as much as we can.” The problems at the Zodiac Seats UK division have also resulted in a profit warning yesterday and tumbling share price, causing TCI, which owns about four percent of Safran, to write an open letter urging Safran chairman Ross McInnes to cancel the group’s $90-billion takeover of Zodiac.

Lufthansa Promises “More Than Just a Seat” on Boeing 777Xs


Lufthansa Group announced at ITB Berlin that it will debut a newly designed business-class seat when it takes delivery of its fleet of Boeing 777Xs in 2020. The airline group was coy on the specifics, but said customization and digitization will be the theme of the new product, and that passengers will be able to control their seats and in-flight entertainment systems using their own smartphones or tablets. “This seat will be more than ‘just’ a seat,” said Harry Hohmeister, Lufthansa Group’s chief officer of Hub Management. “It will meet the specific needs of customers … whether they prefer to work or sleep, or whether they are traveling with their families or on their own for business.”

Aircraft Cabin Experts Dispel the Biggest Comfort Myths


In anticipation of Aircraft Interiors Expo, which will kick off in Hamburg in less than one month, experts from Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Recaro and LIFT by EnCore address some of the biggest myths surrounding comfort in the aircraft cabin. Learn why seat width and pitch aren’t the primary determining factors for comfort, why more foam isn’t necessarily better, why trim seats don’t have to mean a slim chance of comfort and why, when it comes to features, quality is more important than quantity.

Airborne Wireless Network Signs MoU for Laser-Based In-Flight Connectivity


Airborne Wireless Network has signed a memorandum of understanding with ViaLight to explore the possibility of integrating a laser-based communications system with its planned Infinitus Super Highway in-flight broadband network. ViaLight said its laser technology delivers ultra-high data rate communication across vast distances. “Once developed, our hybrid system, combined with traditional radio-links with laser, could deliver an extreme-capacity airborne backbone that would offer unprecedented bandwidth at a reasonable cost,” said Jason T. de Mos, Airborne Wireless Network’s VP of Business Development and Aviation Compliance.

Passenger’s Face Burned After Battery-Operated Headphones Explode Mid-Flight


A passenger’s battery-operated headphones exploded two hours into a flight from Beijing to Melbourne on February 19. The Australian passenger was asleep when she awoke to a loud explosion that left her face blackened and her hair singed. “[The headphones] were sparking and had small amounts of fire,” she said in a statement through the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). The passenger reacted by stamping her foot on the headphones while flight attendants were prepared to douse them with a bucket of water. The ATSB says it is likely the batteries caught fire and advises passengers to not keep batteries in their stowed luggage.

French Authorities Join UK in Airbus Probe


French authorities have joined the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in a corruption probe of Airbus Group, centered on allegations of fraudulent practices related to aircraft sales and financial arrangements. Last August, the SFO launched an investigation into the European aerospace consortium’s use of third-party consultants to secure international aircraft orders. Airbus said on Thursday that France’s Parquet National Financier had also “opened a preliminary investigation into the same subject,” and that authorities from both countries would coordinate their efforts going forward. The company said it would cooperate fully with national agencies.

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