APEX in Profile: Denis Altmann

Denis Altmann, vice-president Research & Development, Recaro Aircraft Seating

Image via Recaro

Denis Altmann
vice-president Research & Development
Recaro Aircraft Seating

Denis started his career at Recaro in 2015 as head of Configuration Management. He developed his leadership skills in positions within the company as head of Testing and most recently as director of Development Engineering Economy Class. As of February, he has taken overall responsibility for Recaro’s R&D. Prior to that, he held various management positions at Airbus.

Location: STR
Favorite aircraft: A380
Favorite airport: Munich
Last Google search: Maiden flight 777X
Hobby: Hiking

What kinds of projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on various products in close cooperation with the innovation department. The main focus is on passenger comfort, which includes living space, ergonomics and lightweight design. In addition, I am managing the different requirements of our customers and internal stakeholders within R&D.

What’s something you would like to explore more of in R&D?
Picking connectivity as a main aspect, I’m thinking how we can provide additional comfort through connected cabin amenities.

Which of Recaro’s past projects have you been involved with?
I was involved in the development of the SL3710 seat, which is the lightest product in its class, weighing less than 8 kilograms (18 pounds) – even lighter than its predecessor. Another project was the certification and first delivery of our CL6710 business-class seat.

Which passenger activities are dictating the way aircraft seats are designed?
On short- and medium-range flights, more and more passengers are bringing their own devices. In addition, privacy is moving into the scope – we are therefore working on special concepts and solutions in all classes to give passengers a certain privacy.

How can we find comfort in a higher-density cabin configuration?
By using lightweight materials, developing new technologies and simplifying seat designs that optimize interfaces in areas that aren’t traditionally thought to affect passenger comfort. For example, we try to bring ingenuity by rethinking baseline features. We moved the literature pocket up (a patented innovation by Recaro), which increased the “living space” in the leg area.

How is Recaro acknowledging the need for aviation to be more sustainable?
As weight has a direct impact on sustainability and CO₂ emissions, striking a balance between designing something that is lightweight and comfortable is a major driver across the Recaro product portfolio. We’re looking at replacing the traditional seat pan with lightweight foam, conducting research into topology optimization, doing simulations and durability tests, and building upon our knowledge and experience to lengthen product lifecycle. Recaro is also optimizing its final assembly layout and transitioning to paperless processes. These efforts as well as the use of district heating and overall energy efficiency have resulted in a CO₂-negative production.

What’s a concern that the aviation industry needs to come together on?
Clearly, keeping up the high standard of testing and certification.

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
I chose the airline industry. During my studies, I found my interest in aviation and discovered my passion for helicopters and aircraft soon after. It was clear to me that I would choose a career in the aviation sector. And then seeing the first takeoff of a helicopter in whose development I was involved – that feeling was incredible and has captured me ever since.

Every job has a cool factor, what’s yours?
Simply flying – it’s the most technically complex system controlled by humans. To be involved with this in my daily life impresses me over and over again.

APEX in Profile: Denis Altmann was originally published in the 10.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.