Would you take this flight?

When Zodiac Aerospace revealed their exploratory concept of a honeycomb-style seating design for airplanes, the blogosphere went wild. Some named it “nightmarish” others said it would force passengers to “gaze awkwardly” at one another. We decided to speak to the company and get some answers about the innovative design.

“The HD31 concept is an exploratory study for the addition of 30 passengers on short haul flights of about one hour—like taking a shuttle—while providing passengers 15 percent more leg room,” says Laurent Stritter, VP Marketing and Product Strategy of Zodiac Seats. Rather than reducing the pitch of the seat and impinging on the passenger’s comfort, the company looked for an alternative solution: a honeycomb-style configuration of seven seats where passengers are offset but face one another. Zodiac calls it a “ying yang” formation that provides more space for travelers.

“It comes first with the addition of 4-inch more pitch – as much as 15 percent more leg space compared to a traditional 27 inch pitch. The 31-inch of living space being normally reserved to long haul flights only,” says Stritter. The seats are also wider at the shoulder, 24 inches versus the standard of 18 inches on most economy flights.

The controversy online centers around the idea of travelers facing one another. Though some people might find the arrangement intrusive, most travelers are used to this kind of configuration on commuter trains across the globe. Plus, Zodiac has envisioned this concept for short-haul, commuter flights. Lastly, Stritter says the airplane could “provide a unique flight experience, allowing for families and friends to travel comfortably together.”

“We started this project from the observations that there are more and more flights as to accommodate the growing number of passengers. This results in crowded airports and longer boarding time, which is inconvenient, both for the airlines and the passengers,” he adds. “We have thus given ourselves the challenge to find a solution for the problem of high density short flights, to respond to this growing passenger number, while closely watching the passenger’s comfort.”

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