Some TAP Air Portugal seats are getting smarter. In partnership with aircraft seating giant Recaro the airline installed its first ever “intelligent seat” product in the cabin of a TAP A321. The economy class BL3530 seat is equipped with numerous sensors to gather data on seat performance and generic behavior during flight. The trial with TAP is expected to run for six months.
This is a momentous innovation in the aviation connectivity history and a great achievement for the entire team, who made this project a success. As a solution provider first and foremost, we aim to develop inventive, premium products that will revolutionize the future of aircraft seats.– Dr. Hiller, Chief Executive Officer and Shareholder of Recaro Aircraft Seating
The sensors allow for the seat to track a variety of data points in service. Included in the metrics are if the seat is occupied, how many times a passenger uses the tray table, raises the armrests, reclines the seat, and whether their seatbelt is fastened.
This initial iteration will see the data collected very infrequently, at two month intervals. It is a proof of concept at this stage and much more about highlighting possibilities in a digital cabin than creating real-time, actionable data. This is just one component of Recaro’s larger “connected cabin” strategy.
To truly deliver on the value of the connected cabin the data collection analysis will likely need to be far more frequent, potentially in real time. This will require a blend of on-board computing power and inflight connectivity systems to manage data transfer to appropriate management systems on the ground.
There are also questions on just how valuable data like how often the tray table is opened really is relative to the cost of installing such systems and managing the data generated. Thus far the optimism from vendors is driving the trials. Hopefully this will be a useful experiment in setting a benchmark for what the value is.
TAP Air Portugal is very excited to have been chosen by Recaro as a partner airline to pioneer the investigation of passenger’s comfort during their flights… Recaro is a strategic partner on this transformation process and the “iSeat” will provide further data regarding the passengers’ needs and behaviors that will help TAP Air Portugal and Recaro in the development of new generations of seats to further enhance the comfort and safety standards.– Nuno Leal, TAP’s Head of Fleet Planning & Contracts
Not only is this the first time Recaro has installed its smart seat product on a plane, but the seat is the first time the manufacturer designed, produced and certified an aircraft installation under its own Design Organization Approval (DOA) authority, granted to Recaro by European Union Aviation Safety Agency at the aircraft level. Such programs are designed to speed the certification process for new products while maintaining the stringent safety performance that the commercial aviation industry is known for.