A small airline based in Nigeria that you’ve probably never heard of now has one of the best business class seats flying on a regional jet. Air Peace took delivery of its first Embraer E195-E2 at the end of January. And the carrier chose Embraer’s new staggered premium cabin option.
More than 7 years in the making, the new concept was developed in cooperation with UK-based design firm Priestmangoode and first unveiled in 2014 at the Farnborough Air Show. The seats have changed somewhat since then, accounting for safety requirements and the reality of fitting a brand new seat design on to an aircraft. But the overall concept remains very similar to the initial design.
Getting from that concept to flying in commercial service is worth celebrating.
The 2-2 staggered layout provides a wider and more private seating arrangement for business class passengers, not to mention a massive amount of legroom. It also allows for the seats to use the same mounting rails as the 2-2 economy arrangement and for the overhead bins to remain vertically aligned with the seats.
The concept is also enabled by what Embraer described as a “signature design feature” of the E2: Each seat has its own passenger service unit (PSU) with reading light and air vent. Because they’ve been decoupled the aisle and window seats do not need to be directly adjacent.
Air Peace added in-seat power to its implementation, but not in-seat entertainment screens. And the position of the outlets is slightly awkward for the aisle seat passengers.
A Successfully Staggered Solution
The Embraer E2 business class seat is not the first staggered option to be put on the market, but it is one of only a few that managed to make its way on to an airplane. Thompson Aero‘s Cozy Suite made waves when it was introduced more than a decade ago. But it has yet to secure an airline customer. The PSU alignment for a trio of offset seats is among the challenges it faces.
Molon Labe’s slightly staggered (though less pronounced than the Thompson option) seats made it through certification and even were reported to have secured customers once or twice. But they, too, are yet to fly.
Other staggered solutions typically fly as flat beds in business class cabins on twin-aisle planes. Just not quite the same as seeing the innovation on one of the smaller jets in the market today.
Concept to Reality is not easy
Every new seat introduced is a concept at one point or another. JetBlue is the launch customer for the Vantage SOLO seat on its new A321neo and A321LR aircraft. That seat started as a concept from FactoryDesign before maturing into a product, complete with the “Studio” customization in the first row.
And other concepts will eventually fly. Some may even fly with the first airline customer to announce that they want the product, though that did not happen in this scenario. Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways signed as the launch customer in in July 2018 before shutting down operations just a few months later.
But for now the Embraer/Pirestmangoode concept has earned its moment in the spotlight.
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