STELIA Aerospace has unveiled its new OPERA business-class seat for single-aisle aircraft. The company began developing the product in early 2019 specifically with the Airbus A321XLR in mind and has worked collaboratively with the OEM and a range of airlines both large and small to reach the final design. The seat is set to launch during the first quarter of 2021.
Although STELIA typically deals in staggered seating solutions, it opted for a reverse herringbone layout for OPERA, providing Airbus and airline clients with maximum efficiency and flexibility. Emmanuel Regnier, STELIA Aerospace’s head of Sales and Marketing, explained, “One module repeating itself means that an airline can go from 10 to 12 to 16 seats without disturbing the ones in front or behind.” He added that the seat modules have been designed to sit at an angle of 44 degrees, which is much greater than you find on a wide-body aircraft.
#STELIAAerospace launches OPERA, its new Business Class Seat offering outstanding long-range #comfort on single-aisle. This “Full Flat, Full Access, Full Privacy” combines design & efficiency. Find out more on https://t.co/SQlOlqdfBH pic.twitter.com/vJLAiA2fTm
— STELIA AEROSPACE (@STELIAAEROSPACE) October 1, 2020
Keeping the weight of the seat module down was also a priority. Regnier revealed that while business-class seats for wide-body aircraft typically weigh over 100 kilograms, the standard OPERA module will come in at under 80 kilograms. He added that the weight could increase depending on an airline’s customizations. To save on both weight and maintenance, the seat itself is powered by just one actuator.
“We wanted the seat to be as advanced as possible so that the airlines don’t want to make exotic choices [in terms of customization],” Regnier said, explaining that customization is what causes issues during the production process. With this in mind, he estimated that after the first couple of shipsets, STELIA should be able to work with a lead time of around 12 months.
STELIA claims that the OPERA seat provides the highest level of comfort available on a narrow-body aircraft. It includes features such as a four-way adjustable headrest, a sliding privacy door, a reading light with three settings and a fixed 20-inch in-flight entertainment screen, which Regnier believes is the biggest available on a single-aisle aircraft to date. A large tray table is stored under the seat’s cocktail table and can be moved back and forward, allowing passengers to easily enter and exit the seat while the tray table is extended.
Much attention was also paid to the location of different stowage areas – the largest is under the ottoman where the passenger can place their feet, while others include a laptop compartment and a large compartment above the cocktail table with a mirror, passenger control unit and allotted space for bottled water. Both AC and USB power and a headset cable are available on the cocktail table. “We did studies about where to position our sockets and headsets so that passengers could easily access them from different positions,” Regnier said.
The standard seat pitch is 38 inches, but Regnier did reveal this could be adapted to 36 inches on request. Feedback from frequent flyers highlighted that while the egress might be narrow, since the seat will likely be used on flights between six and eight hours long, passengers won’t be leaving the seat as frequently. However, to address the issue, they built in a recess at ground level under the front row monument so passengers would have more room for their feet on entry and exit.
Narrow isn’t an adjective which can be used to describe the seat itself, though. When upright, the width between armrests is 21.5 inches. In lie-flat mode, the bed is 78.5 inches in length. Once the outer armrest is folded away, the seat’s shoulder width measures 29 inches, the waist width is 27 inches and the width at the knees is 34 inches. The latter allows passengers to lay on their side comfortably with their knees slightly bent.
While many airlines like to work directly with the seating supplier, Regnier said STELIA also wants to cater for smaller airlines, which typically procure everything through Airbus. The company hopes that once available, OPERA will be offered as supplier-furnished equipment (SFE), and cater to a large variety of clients.