B/E Aerospace MiniPod Lie-Flat Seat

Images via Collins Aerospace

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of APEX EXPO this year, APEX Media is looking back at its members’ most significant achievements. Today, we take a look at the legacy of the MiniPod business-class seating solution developed by B/E Aerospace, now Collins Aerospace.

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In 2002, B/E Aerospace (now Collins Aerospace) debuted its MiniPod angled lie-flat business-class seat designed for long-haul wide-body aircraft.

The customizable seat featured a recline of 170 degrees, a fixed back shell to ensure passenger privacy and an articulating arm structure that moved downward as the seat reclined to offer additional bed width. Optional extras included a 110-volt laptop power outlet and an eight-way back massager.

The MiniPod product was launched by Japan Airlines (JAL) on its Tokyo–London and Tokyo–New York flights. Customized by B/E’s Industrial Design Studio and Japanese company G-K Industrial Design Group and known as the “JAL Shell Flat seat,” the product was awarded the 2002 Good Design Award by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, and in 2003 it received Japan’s Good Design Award, sponsored by the Japan Industrial Design Council.

The seat went on to prove incredibly popular with numerous airlines. Within three years of launching, B/E Aerospace had secured both retrofit and new aircraft contracts with 15 major international airlines, including Air France, China Southern, China Eastern, Korean Air, Qantas and Thai Airways, in programs valued at over US$400 million.

Mark Dowty, director of Interiors Business Development & Engineering for Collins Aerospace, commented, “MiniPod was a happy medium between a lie-flat experience for passengers and cabin density for airlines. The fact that it launched during an era of increased complexity – with the addition of electrical actuation, and new 16G dynamic crash regulations, makes its design even more significant.”

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