SkyRider airline seats pack fliers into 23 inches of space - USATODAY.com
Think your seat in coach is cramped? Take a look at the SkyRider.
The new airplane seat, to be unveiled next week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, would give passengers an experience akin to riding horseback.
They'd sit at an angle with no more than 23 inches between their perch and the seat in front of them — a design that could appeal to low-cost airlines that have floated the idea of offering passengers standing-room tickets on short flights.
The SkyRider isn't headed for an airplane cabin just yet. But its designer, Aviointeriors, an aircraft seat design firm based in Latina, Italy, says several airlines, including some in the U.S., have expressed interest.
"We feel extremely confident that this concept will ... have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes," says Dominique Menoud, director general of Aviointeriors Group.
The SkyRider could be its own class of seating, like business or coach, Menoud says. Passengers would likely pay lower fares. But airlines could boost their profits because the narrowly spaced seats would allow them to squeeze more fliers on board.
"For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours ... this would be comfortable seating," he says. "The seat ... is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle."
The novel design may draw interest — especially from two overseas carriers that have entertained the idea of providing no seats at all.
Ryanair, the Irish low-cost carrier that has set trends such as charging for in-flight meals, has said it would let passengers stand during flights if the Irish Aviation Authority would allow it.
And last year, Spring Airlines, a low-cost carrier in China, tried to get the OK from regulators to redesign its planes to accommodate some standing passengers.
But Gaetano Perugini, Aviointeriors' director of research and development who created the SkyRider, emphasizes that the firm isn't proposing that passengers be on their feet.
"Even though the (distance between seats) is extremely narrow, we are talking about seats, not about ... having passengers simply standing on the floor," he says. "You are sitting on a special seat, but it is a seat."
The seats will offer storage space as well, including a shelf for carry-on bags, and hooks to hang a jacket or purse.
If a carrier commits to installing the new seats, Aviointeriors will apply to European aviation authorities and those in the United States for proper certification, Menoud says.
Les Dorr, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates air travel in the U.S., says he's not familiar with the SkyRider's particular design.
However, he says, "While it's not impossible, it's difficult to conceive of a standing seat that would be able to meet all applicable FAA requirements and still be cost-effective."