FAA approves new middle seat design and U.S. carriers make their bets

FAA approves new middle seat design and U.S. carriers make their bets

Newly approved S1 seat from Molon Labe Seating

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a new seating design that makes the middle seat wider (21in compared to 18in), more comfortable, and more desirable for short-haul flights.

Molon Labe Seating, the company behind the creation of the S1 seating structure, has been working on this design for approximately five years. The goal was to create a product that would increase passengers’ comfort without reducing a plane’s capacity. S1 puts the middle seat several inches lower than and further back from the aisle and window seats, and provides the middle-seater exclusive elbow room with its two-level armrest design.

With such approval, an unnamed U.S. airline will have S1 seats installed on 50 aircraft by the end of 2020. Every seat will also come with its own smartphone or tablet holder, USB port and a latchless table.

Initial designs included a feature called Side-Slip, which allows the aisle seat to slide over the middle seat for easier access during passenger loading; however, company officials said the feature will be optional.

While the S1 model is designed for short-haul flights, Molon Labe Seating is also developing staggered S2 and S3 models for long-haul services, which are promised to come with the widest seats and the biggest inflight entertainment systems available in economy class. Hank Scott, the company’s founder, said that they have “discovered that what looks like a small stagger actually makes a huge difference… The trick is to actually sit in the seat. In fact, our main sales tool is to ship seats to airlines so they can sit in them.”

Sources: businesstraveller.com, “FAA approves new middle seat design” by Robert Curley. 23 July, 2019
fastcompany.com, “Airlines are finally fixing the middle seat” by Mark Wilson. 18 July, 2019 yahoo.com, “Game-changing staggered seating on flights receives FAA approval” by Helen Coffey. July 23, 2019