Airbus said that a minimum seat width of 18 inches should be set for all long-haul aircraft so that passenger comfort is not jeopardised. The call comes after London-based research showed that sleep quality could improve substantially if seats are a little wider.
Airbus also released details of research conducted by Harley Street medical practice, The London Sleep Centre.
As part of the research, trials were carried out on a selection of passengers, which included monitoring brainwaves, and eye, abdominal, chest, hip and leg movement. The tests revealed that a minimum seat width of 18 inches improved passenger sleep quality by 53 percent compared with the 1950s-style 17-inch standard.
Airbus has always maintained a standard 18-inch (45.72cm) minimum in its long haul economy cabins. ‘However, other manufacturers are eroding passenger comfort standards by going back to narrower seat widths from the 1950s in order to remain competitive,’ the company said.
Dr Irshaad Ebrahim of The London Sleep Centre said: ‘The difference was significant. All passengers experienced a deeper, less disturbed and longer nights’ sleep in the 18-inch seat. They went from one sleep stage to the next as you would expect them to do under normal circumstances. Whilst, in the narrower 17-inch seat the passengers were affected by numerous disturbances during sleep – which meant they rarely experienced deep restorative sleep. When it comes to flying long haul in economy, an inch makes a huge difference on passenger comfort.’
Kevin Keniston, Airbus’ head of passenger comfort, said: ‘If the aviation industry doesn’t take a stand right now then we risk jeopardising passenger comfort into 2045 and beyond, especially if you take into account aircraft delivery timetables combined with expected years in service. Which means another generation of passengers will be consigned to seats which are based on outdated standards.
‘Thankfully passengers these days have a choice and they are choosing to put comfort first. We are encouraging them to be aware of the difference an inch makes in long haul economy,’ he added.