Airbus files patent to use bicycle-like seats on planes
An Airbus A350-900 test plane is seen at Singapore's Changi Airport at a media preview ahead of the upcoming Singapore Air Show on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)
Jordan Chittley, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014 4:41PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:31PM EDT
Just when you thought air travel couldn't get less luxurious -- with the lack of food, lack of space and recirculated air -- one aircraft manufacturer is looking at ways to cram even more passengers onto planes by creating what will possibly be even more uncomfortable seats.
France-based Airbus submitted a patented for a new type of seat that looks more like a bicycle seat than a cushy chair. There is no tray table, no headrest, a small backrest and very little legroom.
It’s not hard to imagine that flying this way would be more like taking a spin on the SkyRider roller-coaster at Canada's Wonderland-- but hopefully without the loops or steep decline.
"In the aeronautical sector, some so-called 'low-cost' airlines seek to increase the number of passengers transported on each flight, and more particularly on short-haul links, in order to maximize on the use of the aircraft," reads the patent application description.
"In all cases, this increase in the number of seats is achieved to the detriment of the comfort of the passengers."
The application continues to say the seats should only be used on planes transporting passengers on flights shorter than "a few hours."
Each seat is attached to a vertical bar and the seats retract to increase space when they are not being used. Though Airbus officials said in a Los Angeles Times article that filing the request doesn't mean the seats will ever be a reality.
An aviation expert agrees such a seat design is unlikely to ever fly.
"Where this is probably targeted -- if it ever sees the light of day, which I doubt -- would be for low-cost or ultra-low-cost carriers that don't charge a lot, so as a result they would have to cram in as many seats as possible," Robert Kokonis, of Airtrav Inc., told CTV News Channel. "Airbus, like any large aircraft manufacturer, files hundreds of patents per year and they are just trying to protect their potential technology."
Kokonis said in order to pack more people onto a plane, the aircraft and engines would have to be redesigned to accommodate the weight. He also said the issue of safety may be a fundamental issue.
This may open the door for making air travel less expensive, but there are a lot of unanswered questions. What happens to the TVs? How can you use your laptop if there is no tray table? Where do you store carry-ons? And finally, do the cushions float?
This isn't the first crazy idea to increase a plane’s passenger capacity. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has suggested removing the back rows of seats from planes and providing "vertical seating," or standing room only.