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Image: Maxim Sergienko

APEX Insight: Recaro’s Airbus A320 Smart Cabin Reconfiguration “Flex Seat” was unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo today in Hamburg. The seat allows crewmembers to adjust seat pitch, giving passengers extra legroom when possible.

Recaro debuted the Airbus A320 Smart Cabin Reconfiguration “Flex Seat” at Aircraft Interiors Expo today. The concept, which was developed by Airbus, Recaro and THK, allows cabin crew to adjust the seat pitch by lifting a lever beneath the cushion and sliding the row of seats along a rail. This offers flexibility in seating layout so that airlines can maximize bookings, and give passengers extra legroom when possible.

Jochen Lohrmann, head of Innovation Management at Recaro, says the Flex Seat wouldn’t affect the turnover time between flights. “One of our main goals was to provide a simple solution so that the whole cabin layout can be changed within minutes,” he said. “But the airline has to know how to manage this, within their booking system, for example.” 

The Flex Seat, which does not yet have a launch customer, can also be used as a crew rest area: decreasing the pitch ensures that cabin crew can lay across a row of seats without rolling off. Recaro will find out whether it will take home a Crystal Cabin Award for the Airbus A320 Smart Cabin Reconfiguration in the Passenger Comfort Hardware category at this evening’s ceremony.

Recaro is also displaying its iSeat technology that informs the cabin crew whether or not the seats are in TTL position via an app. Sensors in the armrest, backrest and tray table detect whether they are in the correct location for takeoff and landing, increasing efficiency for the cabin crew. The app also keeps track of how many times the part has moved, enabling predictive maintenance. 

Image: Maxim Sergienko

Image: Maxim Sergienko

Also on display at AIX is Recaro’s tablet shelf with an integrated cup holder, which is expected to be launched by an undisclosed airline customer in the third quarter of this year. And the “Wellbeing” seat combines a trifecta of mood lighting, massage and heat to help passengers feel zen. To reduce the spread of germs in the cabin, Recaro has developed an antibacterial coating for the frequently touched plastic parts of aircraft seats that removes 99 percent of bacteria within three hours. Marisa Garcia, former company director at Hoover Industries, has worked with engineering teams on coating certifications and attests to the difficulty of the process: “As soon as you add any chemical coating to a surface, it has to pass a new burn test. Getting the mix right on any kind of coating is very delicate. Chemicals have very high volatility, you have to do repetitive testing – it can easily take a year.”