Bombardier is offering CSeries customers the option of selecting ultra-slim ‘super economy’ seats – with seat pitches set as low as 28in – from the twinjet’s catalogue, in addition to less high-density economy-class seating arrangements.
“We’ve been able to allow pitch down to 28in by contouring the seats,” Bombardier VP CSeries Rob Dewar tells the APEX editor’s blog.
He explains that, because the economy-class seats on the five abreast (2 + 3), 110/130-seat CSeries will be wider than traditional narrowbody seats – 18.5in for window and aisle, and 19in for the middle seat – “you can ‘carve away’ in the knee area and in ‘super economy’ we gain two inches of seat pitch for the same comfort level. In fact, 28in pitch will feel like 30in, although standard pitch is 32in”.
By comparison, seats aboard the Airbus A320 are 18in in width, whilst seats aboard the Boeing 737 are 17in (though Airbus has worked with B/E Aerospace to develop a new 17in, 17in, 20in triple to accommodate passengers of size, and provide airlines with more ancillary revenue opportunities).
“If you benchmark any seat, including the 19in middle seat [on the CSeries], which is wider than any other aircraft on the market, or the distance from the passenger’s shoulder to the window in the outside seat, you’ll find we have the most personal space of any aircraft, including twin-aisles,” says Dewar.
“And if you look at our seats, the space, the windows, the technology and connectivity, you’ll see that we’ve pushed the frontier on all aspects of passenger comfort.”
Inflight technology and passenger services consultant Michael Planey believes that larger passengers will notice the width advantage of the CSeries seats, especially the middle seat of the triple.
“It’s an acknowledgment that Bombardier understands the centre seat is less comfortable. As the centre passenger you’re always fighting over armrests, but an inch of extra width makes a real difference,” he says.
C&D Zodiac holds the contract to design and produce the interiors package for the CSeries. Asked whether airlines will be able to go outside the catalogue for premium seating, Dewar answers in the affirmative, saying: “Customers are ultimately responsible for selecting the configuration of their aircraft. This includes the type of seats they select, but all customers appear satisfied with the options we’re providing.”
Bombardier has also added two inches of aisle width, allowing passengers to pass with ease, and airlines to speed up loading and unloading, according to the airframer. The wider aisle also allows for easier access by wheelchair users and the lavatories have been designed to be fully accessible, it notes.
Offering state-of-the-art inflight entertainment and connectivity on the CSeries is important to Bombardier. Embedded IFE systems from Panasonic Avionics and Thales are offered as part of the catalogue, but, Dewar says, “We listen to our customers and we’ll add suppliers as the market demands.”
Bombardier will offer Ku-band, (forthcoming) Ka-band, L-band and Gogo air-to-ground (ATG)-supported connectivity options; customers will be able to pick the most suitable supplier from the aircraft catalogue, it says.
Planey says Bombardier gains a major advantage by offering customers this flexibility and choice. “The standard of IFE and connectivity will be key to the success of the airplane in terms of passenger acceptance.”
Meanwhile, CSeries systems are coming together in a Complete Integrated Aircraft Systems Test Area (CIASTA), which will act as a virtual CSeries in advance of first flight of the first true flying test bed aircraft.
Aiming for a step improvement in service-entry reliability, Bombardier is installing a full cabin in CIASTA, including heating and cooling, pressurisation systems (limited on the ground for safety), waste and water systems, and seats and IFE, though the latter will be primarily tested for fit and function since satellite capture rate and other data can only be fully explored in-flight.
The cabin environment of CIASTA will ready by year-end. Testing will continue through 2013, with dummy “passengers” introduced early on in the process.
Dewar has no doubt that the CSeries will offer a superior passenger experience to competing aircraft. And he is keen to reiterate Bombardier’s determination to set a new cabin standard based on passenger expectations. “The fuselage is based on seat width, shoulder height at the windows, floor space and cabin height. This gave us four blended circles and we were able to design a complex cross-section optimised for each of these parameters.”