Optimares says it does not want to be confused with aircraft seat suppliers that are content to churn out basic economy-class seats. Instead, it says, everything it designs is based on the behaviours and habits of travellers and tailored to their specific desires. Some industry stakeholders have started to embrace Optimares’ approach.
“If we offer an economy-class seat it will be for someone who really wants to invest in the passenger experience,” says Marco Tonucci, who handles business development for Optimares. “We debated internally if it’s safe to start a company and concentrate on super-premium airlines whose brands are linked to interiors. We decided that we want to fill this market gap, providing everything from special lumbar support to automotive design; everything that can be perceived by the airline as a ‘wow’ idea and which other suppliers did not see because their production lines are so full they didn’t innovate.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Italian company’s innovations will initially be seen in premium and VIP cabins, where luxury is crucial.
Tonucci says the first ship-set of Optimares’ “Zest” first-class seat has been delivered to a Boeing 757 that will be operated by PrivatAir on behalf of Congo-based airline start-up ECAir.
Since ECAir is competing with Air France on flights to Paris, “the government of the Republic of Congo wanted to do something really special” so it contacted Lufthansa Consulting, which in turn reached out to Optimares, says Tonucci. “This is really consistent with our strategy.” The seat below will be personalised for ECAir.
Supplemental type certification for the double-actuator, full-flat seats on board the 757 is expected “soon”, he says, and the aircraft – which will feature five rows of a 2-2 first-class configuration – will fly “at the end of the summer”. PrivatAir is sourcing a second 757 for ECAir, and Zest seats will be installed on the aircraft.
Separately, the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC) in France has selected Zest for installation on an ACJ from mid-2013. The agreement represents Optimares’ foray into the VIP market.
Breaking further into the commercial airline market with a top tier carrier is next on Optimares’ agenda.
The company explains its approach to design in the following video: