FARNBOROUGH: Qatar Airways plans to ultimately alter the Recaro CL3620 economy-class seats on its new Boeing 787s – and is already implementing a plan for its “next” aircraft programme – because the armrests do not completely retract back so that they can be flush against the seats, the APEX editor’s blog can reveal.
Flush armrests enable airlines to sell two seats to passengers of size, as well as accommodate passengers with disabilities. “We can still seat [oversized] passengers” on the CL3620 on the 787, says a Qatar Airways source, even though the armrest, when retracted, is still slightly protruded. This is because, when retracted, there is still room in the second seat for a person’s thigh which is “normally the issue”.
He explains that the design was “what was available” at the time that Qatar placed its order for 787 seats, and timeline constraints prevented the carrier from making changes “because we are getting the aircraft very early” compared to other 787 customers.
But the carrier acknowledges that the seat, in its current iteration, is not an ideal long-term solution. “We’re looking about changing it,” says the source. Pressed for details, he says: “There are things in the pipeline which will be improved. It will be, let’s say, a refreshed version of the CL3620, especially with the new IFE.”
Qatar is offering Thales audio/video on demand systems – with Android-based touch-screen handsets – on the 787, but the carrier will ultimately offer the brand new Thales AVANT IFE system on the twinjet. AVANT also runs on the Android operating system.
Boeing is expected to cut into production of the 787 to offer AVANT on the twinjet, and this might be an ideal time to make a switch to the refreshed seat.
Meanwhile, the refreshed CL3620 is being implemented on another platform. ”We are thinking of a lot of people who are ageing and don’t have mobility and things, so handicapped people who want to slide in and out, it’s much easier [to have flush armrests]. Plus if some people want to travel, and [are] heavy weight and need two seats. Plus if there is opportunity for passengers to sleep in economy class, and the flight is not full, then they can.”
Airbus previously demanded that suppliers of economy-class seats on the A350 XWB ensure that the armrests retract to a flush position. The airframer recently reported that suppliers in the catalogue had amended their designs as requested.