Safran to Manufacture Universal Movement’s Interspace Seats for Sleeping and Separation

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The new Interspace Lite design created by Universal Movement and Safran. Image via Universal Movement
The new Interspace Lite design created by Universal Movement and Safran Seats. All images via Universal Movement

Many aircraft seating concepts never see the light of day, but just six months after being showcased to the aviation industry, Universal Movement’s Interspace design has been taken on by Safran Seats, which is now racing to have the product available to airlines. The concept was initially pitched as a solution for more comfortable sleeping and additional privacy, but the fold out dividers can also be used to separate passengers during the pandemic.

Safran is to exclusively develop and manufacture Universal Movement’s Interspace portfolio, including the original Interspace seat with foldout wing system for premium economy and domestic business-class cabins, a retrofit product for existing premium economy seats and a new economy-class product dubbed Interspace Lite.

The two companies came together following the unveiling of Universal Movement’s Interspace design during RedCabin’s Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit in December 2019. They expect to begin manufacturing the Interspace retrofit solution and Interspace Lite during the summer of this year, while development of the full Interspace seating product continues.

Though Interspace was designed to allow passengers to redistribute their weight and adopt different sleeping positions using two padded wings that fold out from the seatback, Interspace Lite has been designed with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in mind.

The outer wings of the Interspace seat design can be folded out to create a private bay for two people traveling together.
The outer wings of the Interspace seat design can be folded out to create a private bay for two people traveling together.

“Interspace Lite is an equipment adaptation which gives airlines the flexibility to easily reconfigure their economy cabins, providing delineation and privacy between passengers by locking out either the central or outboard seats of a row,” explained Luke Miles, founder of Universal Movement. “With the travel industry severely affected by the spread of coronavirus, we have sought to provide a solution through the Interspace Lite solution that could allow airlines to get back on their feet much sooner than if standard aircraft seating were to remain the same.”

Miles said the details of the manufacturing process are still under review. “Our ambition here is to reach the most cost-effective and quickest route to market across all activity streams, including manufacturing, as we recognize that cost is also a major consideration for potential customers,” he said.

Universal Movement initially worked with EASA Part 21J-approved design organization SWS on the Interspace concept to make sure it was fully certifiable. The company remains in dialog with SWS, said Miles, but continued, “through our partnership with Safran, we will seek to achieve the fastest, most efficient and expeditious route to certification.”

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