Collins Aerospace joins the ranks of seating manufacturers with a lie-flat option for single-aisle business class cabins. Dubbed Aurora, the new design was unveiled at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 in Hamburg this week.
Aurora’s exceptional comfort, space and thoughtful amenities offer travelers a luxurious retreat, providing an elevated experience harmonized with wide body standards.– Cynthia Muklevicz, Vice President of Business Development, Collins Aerospace
The reverse herringbone layout offers direct aisle access for all passengers and a 78″ flat bed. A sliding door is optional for increased privacy. The company also notes that Aurora can be delivered without reducing cabin capacity. Myriad customization options for trim and finish further allow airlines to incorporate their brand language into the seat.
Collins notes the seat width is maximized for passenger comfort. Additionally, when upright the seat is closer to the window, allowing for a longer bed and putting the passenger closer to the window (though the angle to look outside is still pretty tough).
While new installations are the most likely implementation, Aurora is designed to integrate integrated into existing cabins, without changing the galley monuments. This “optimizes footprint, functionality and service,” according to the company.
It also means the first row seat is the same as all the others. In an era where airlines and manufacturers have developed extra premium options at the bulkhead row, often delivered for an incremental charge, the absence of that with Aurora is notable.
But Collins has a reason for that. Cynthia Muklevicz, VP Business Development, explained, “Our airline customers needed additional galley cart storage space to cater the premium meals for longer flights. We’re using this space, with a creative angle layout, to deliver that stowage.” With the Aurora design Collins can accommodate one full and one half cart, at an angle, for that extra catering.
Collins also notes the option to add a privacy divider allowing passengers traveling together to interact. The renderings do not show where or how that divider would work, but Muklevicz clarified that it would sit close to the passengers’ head, just outboard of the tray table mount.
Both of these design choices and challenges appear driven by the placement of the tray table, folded up and into the side of the seat wall when stowed.
Muklevicz also suggested that the layout of the seat allows for a feeling of privacy, even if the carrier does not add doors. With the screen deployed, and because of how far back in the seat a passenger is positioned, most visibility into the aisle is blocked.
Aurora sports personal lighting, a tablet holder built in to the tray table, and support for a large entertainment screen that flips out for viewing in flight. It also offers a small personal stowage area next to the bed. Under-seat storage, however, appears rather limited. Moreover, it is not clear where a passenger might stow a laptop while seated.
And, perhaps most importantly, Aurora already has a launch customer secured. Collins expects to deliver the seats to its first airline in 2024. A second customer has also signed for the product. One will install it on an A321XLR, the other on a 737 MAX. One chose the doors option and the other did not.
American Airlines is likely the XLR customer, though that’s not yet confirmed.
Note: This story was updated with additional photos and comments from the company after the seat was unveiled at AIX.
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