Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us


For business class seats, an airy, spacious future is being designed



(CNN) — There’s an airy, spacious, futuristic seat coming to business class, with all-new scientifically engineered structures and materials borrowed from Formula 1 cars.

It’s a completely new high-tech monocoque called Airtek from JPA Design, the people who redefined business class for the modern age a decade ago, and it’s going to change the way business class cabins look and feel.

What this new monocoque revolution means when you travel is more space, lighter seats leading to a smaller carbon footprint and more reliable seats with fewer moving parts to break.

“A monocoque is a term and approach inspired by the automotive racing industry. It’s really a unification of structure and other components that are around it — rather than having an independent metal structure, independent composite furniture, independent seat, independent frame, all these all these different parts — by unifying them into a single highly efficient composite body with no wasted space,” says JPA’s Creative Director Elliott Koehler.

To get there, the plan is to have the seat structure entirely made of composites, which will make it incredibly strong for its weight. That also crucially removes a lot of structure from the place where your feet, knees and even your pieces of hand luggage go.

“The benefit to the passenger would be enormous in terms of leg room, and the ability to store a full sized cabin bag in the seat right in front of them,” Koehler says. “That would mean the reduction or removal of overhead bins, further reducing the weight of this airplane. And of course, less bins means a much more open cabin.”

The Airtek seat is a monocoque inspired by auto racing.

The Airtek seat is a monocoque inspired by auto racing.

JPA Design

Shedding the weight of present-day business class seats

Today’s business class seats are made up of a lot of individual parts, metals and thermoplastics and a few small bits of composite material, all fixed together with bolts, screws, glue and rivets. That’s an involved process that requires a lot of engineering management to ensure it goes well.

If it goes wrong, and the seat is produced late or it doesn’t work properly, you end up with an airline’s latest, greatest airplanes with their latest, greatest business class cabins parked on the tarmac because the business class seats either aren’t ready to install or are out of service and need to be fixed.

These seats are also very heavy: a multipart business class seat can be north of a hundred kilos (220 pounds) and first class seats even more. It’s not just the size and materials, it’s also how they’re fixed together.

JPA is working with Williams Advanced Engineering and SWS to create Airtek, and the companies are targeting a minimum of 10% and as much as 20% weight reduction through using the monocoque composite structure.

Williams, a name which Formula 1 fans will recognize, is a technology and engineering offshoot of the racing team, while SWS is a certification outfit specializing in airworthiness of cabin products.

The back of the seat is likely to be adjacent to the screen of the passenger seated behind it.

The back of the seat is likely to be adjacent to the screen of the passenger seated behind it.

JPA Design

A seating solution in line with Covid-19 sensibilities

In recent years, many airlines have been providing more storage for bags and even jackets around business class seats, in small storage lockers, under ottoman footrests and even in individual mini-closets.

In the age of Covid-19 and with passengers unlikely to suddenly stop caring about cleanliness and hygiene, travelers may come to appreciate a lack of shared facilities such as overhead bins, and indeed during the pandemic some countries have even discouraged or banned their use by passengers.

“We’re keeping things really open” in the Airtek seat, Koehler explains.

“There’s a little storage for a laptop that’s remarkably open, so you can see it’s a clean and a safe place to put your electronics. The coat hook is just this very minimal strap, almost like a piece of footwear fashion. So that keeps it super clean, and super open and super lightweight. So everything a passenger sees as they’re looking around this seat will communicate this new vision — a lightweight, but also a comfortable and new open experience.”

While color and some finish selections are usually made by airlines, the team is also leaning into light-and-dark contrasts for styling the seat, which both makes for a bold design language for sighted users and a seat that is responsive to the needs of blind and partially sighted people.

“Super open and super lightweight” is how the design in described. A very minimal strap serves as a coat hook.

JPA Design

Design innovations that work in the real world

A raft of new technologies will help the team to make the seat lighter, sturdier and more spacious, from resins to thermoset and thermoplastics.

The secret sauce, Koehler says as we dive into the technical details, is “the way we are intending to combine them with the manufacturing processes being selected. This enables a more flexible structure to be produced, allowing for the management of the critical mechanical pitch and roll pre-loads, whilst allowing for quick cycle times and the use of recycled materials. This is where [Williams’] experience within composite design and use for the automotive and motorsport sectors has played a crucial role.”

But it’s also about making sure that this high-tech wizardry works in the real world.

Aviation has its own version of Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke’s epigram “no plan survives contact with the enemy” — “no product survives contact with the passenger”. That can also be expanded to “or the cleaners” in the time of coronavirus, as increased cleaning and even UV light sterilization can pose long-term structural durability issues to certain composites.

Perforations in the seat structure help with airflow fluid dynamics within the cabin.

Perforations in the seat structure help with airflow fluid dynamics within the cabin.

JPA Design

As ever with completely new seats, part of the challenge will be ensuring that it can be certified as safe, given that they must be able to withstand 16g impacts — that’s 16 times the force of gravity — while protecting their occupants.

That’s where SWS’ certification expertise and JPA’s decades of seat work on previous generation products such as 2010’s game-changing Cathay Pacific “herringbone” pod seat or Singapore Airlines’ latest business class come into play.

The JPA team hopes to have a fully resolved model in place for April 2021 — either in person at the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo or virtually, depending on the epidemiological situation — to show their design off to airline customers considering their next generation of business class seats.

John Walton is an international transportation and aviation journalist based in France, specializing in airlines, commercial aircraft and the passenger experience.


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Is it safe to vote in person? Experts say yes — with a few conditions.



Everybody should have a plan to vote. And if you’ve considered leaving your house to go to the polls, you should know: Voting in person is relatively safe even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, according to public health experts, it is roughly as risky as going to the grocery store, something Americans still do regularly.

The coronavirus has presented the United States with a daunting logistical challenge as the country attempts to conduct a presidential election in the middle of an infectious disease outbreak. Not only are states having to figure out how to distribute and collect an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots and create safe places for people to vote in person, Americans are facing a stressful question: Is it safe to go vote?

The answer, according to three public health experts I consulted, is yes — with some conditions.

“I think it’s relatively low risk, probably around going to a grocery store,” Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told me. “In general, it’s an activity that’s amenable to social distancing. … In general, I don’t think it’s a major risk.”

Kumi Smith, an epidemiology professor at the University of Minnesota, told me the same thing. “I consider voting to be relatively safe,” adding: “but as with all activities, people should be making risk/benefit calculations for themselves.”

To Smith’s point, this is an individual decision. Some people might prefer to be risk averse and opt for voting by mail. One way to split the difference is to vote early when the crowds are usually smaller.

But the point is, people have options and, if they choose to vote in person for whatever reason, they should be able to do it safely.

“Bottom line? If voting in person is important to you or is your only option, you can do so relatively safely,” Jen Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Take simple precautions to protect yourself and others

Voters might want to start by taking stock of the Covid-19 safety protocols their polling place is following, experts said. That could help them in making a decision about voting early versus voting on Election Day.

“Voting locations should implement rules about masking and social distancing,” Smith said. “Even more ideally, they will have other structural measures in place like physical barriers, one-way traffic lanes, or provision of hand sanitizer.”

Waiting in line outside would also be ideal, according to Kates, and some polling locations provide updates on wait times that people could use to try to avoid the busiest times of the day.

When people actually go to vote, they should take all the same precautions that they should take anywhere they go: Wear a mask. Keep 6 feet of distance from other people. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer liberally.

“With these conditions, it is relatively low risk,” Kates said. Adalja agreed: “If you go to a polling place, as long as you’re wearing a face covering or washing your hands, I think this is a manageable risk.”

It’s a good idea, though, to be prepared for the unexpected.

“It’s also always good to have a plan in place in case the less expected occurs, like finding yourself standing in line next to someone chatty who won’t respect your distance,” Smith said. “Or longer wait times and possible exposure to the elements.”

Voting safely should be doable. We’ve already done it.

The other good news is we aren’t just guessing about whether voting is relatively safe. Elections have been held during the Covid-19 pandemic and there isn’t much evidence that they’ve led to major new clusters of cases.

“I haven’t heard of any major outbreaks that have been linked to voting,” Adalja said.

The Wisconsin primary election in April was closely watched for possible transmission after the Republican-controlled state supreme court blocked a plan by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to postpone the election for two months.

Several studies were conducted trying to assess any increased Covid-19 spread after the primary election. Most have found no effect from the election (though there was at least one exception), and the most authoritative study, from researchers at the CDC and the city of Milwaukee’s health department, concluded that there was “no clear increase” in coronavirus cases after the primary.

Importantly, that report credited the mitigation strategies taken by polling locations for their apparent success in containing Covid-19.

This is not to say there is no risk at all: There were a few dozen confirmed cases linked to people who voted in Wisconsin or worked at a voting location. But all risk is relative in the time of coronavirus, and voting can be made more safe with some simple harm reduction.

Make your own risk assessment about voting in person

How to vote is a decision for each person to make. Every state has its own election laws, so check out resources like Vote.org to make sure you know the rules in your state and your voting options.

Then, it’s worth taking into consideration your own risk tolerance. No matter what, voting can be done safely, but some options are safer than others.

For the people who are more vulnerable to Covid-19 or who are often in contact with more at-risk populations, they might want to minimize their risk of exposure. Other people might have a higher risk tolerance. (As an example: Adalja told me that he himself had a pretty high tolerance for risk and he would have no hesitation about voting in person.)

Voting by mail is probably the safest option, from a public health perspective, and millions of people have already done so this year. But whether it’s simply too late for you to vote by mail or you prefer to vote in person to eliminate the possibility of any mistakes in your ballot being processed, you can vote safely in person.

Here is another way to think about risk: Adalja said that he was much more worried about Covid-19 spreading because people are holding gatherings indoors — Halloween parties, for example — than he was worried about transmission when people vote.

The coronavirus doesn’t spread from fleeting contact. The rule is you need to be within 6 feet of a person for more than 15 minutes to be considered at risk of exposure.

“Most of that risk can be removed pretty easily, with a little bit of foresight,” Adalja said.

As Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote this week, “It’s the most important election in our lifetime, and it always will be.” Covid-19 has been an unexpected and unwelcome wrinkle in the 2020 race. But it shouldn’t stop Americans from participating in the democratic process.

Just be smart to stay safe.

This story appears in VoxCare, a newsletter from Vox on the latest twists and turns in America’s health care debate. Sign up to get VoxCare in your inbox along with more health care stats and news.

Help keep Vox free for all

Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.


Continue Reading


Harris rallies North Carolina Democrats and slams GOP on stimulus bill



Getty Images
Getty Images

President Trump’s campaign entered October with just $63.1 million in remaining cash reserves, new filings show, underscoring his financial vulnerabilities as Election Day fast approaches.

His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, had nearly three times that amount — more than $177 million — remaining in his war chest, highlighting how the former vice president’s fundraising success in recent months left him with a substantial money advantage as the fall campaign got underway.

Trump’s campaign burned through more money than it took in last month, spending more than $91 million on advertising alone, according to a report it filed Tuesday evening with the Federal Election Commission.

But the President’s campaign has been outspent on television in recent weeks, as Biden has battered him on the airwaves, particularly in three swing states —Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that helped Trump secure the White House four years ago.

One sign of the President’s cash crunch: Over the weekend, he flew to deep-blue California for a high-dollar fundraising event that aides say brought in $11 million for his reelection.

Biden outraised Trump in both August and September and together with the Democratic Party committees started October with $432 million remaining in the bank. In all, Trump’s political operation — including his joint fundraising committees with the Republican National Committee — was expected to report $251.4 million in available cash on hand.

But while the President can rely on the larger pool of Republican cash to fund his broader reelection push, including the ground campaign to turn out voters, his main campaign account generally handles advertising. Television stations must offer lower rates to candidates than to other political players, such as super PACs, so candidate money buys more ads.

Trump has trailed Biden in most polling. But Trump campaign officials insist they have sufficient funds to prevail, noting that Democrat Hillary Clinton outraised and outspent Trump in 2016 and still lost the presidency.

Read more here.


Continue Reading


Ten killed in Guinea’s post-election violence



Deadly clashes between security forces and opposition supporters occur in Conakry after a tense presidential vote.

Eight civilians and two policemen were killed in Guinea’s capital Conakry in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters after a tense presidential election with results showing President Alpha Conde in the lead.

Guinea’s security ministry announced the death toll on Wednesday following last weekend’s vote.

“This strategy of chaos [was] orchestrated to jeopardise the elections of October 18,” the ministry said in a statement, adding numerous people were wounded in the unrest, without providing a specific figure.

Opposition supporters burned barricades in the streets on Wednesday after initial results showed Conde ahead in vote-counting.

“At least three people died today [Wednesday] that I saw with my own eyes … and about 10 others were wounded,” Mamadou Keganan Doumbouya, a security official, told AFP news agency.

Hadjiratou Barry, a resident of an area where clashes were taking place, also said her brother had been shot dead. A local doctor, who declined to be named, said he received two dead bodies and nine injured people at his clinic.

Conakry barricades

Supporters of Conde’s main rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, set alight piles of old furniture and burned tyres in some opposition neighbourhoods of Conakry. Police dispersed protesters with tear gas.

“Clashes broke out on the Prince’s Road. A policeman was killed,” Security Minister Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters news agency, referring to a major thoroughfare in the capital that runs through opposition strongholds.

Diallo has claimed victory in the vote based on his campaign’s tallies.

The push for a third term for Conde, 82, has sparked repeated protests over the past year, resulting in dozens of deaths. He says a constitutional referendum in March reset his two-term limit; his opponents say he is breaking the law by holding onto power.

In a social media post, Conde on Wednesday appealed for “calm and serenity while awaiting the outcome of the electoral process”.


Continue Reading