Last month, STELIA Aerospace excitingly revealed OPERA, its new business class passenger seat designed explicitly for narrowbody aircraft. Simple Flying had the opportunity to speak with Emmanuel Regnier, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing for cabin interiors, about what passengers can expect with the seat.
STELIA Aerospace results from a 2015 merger of two Airbus companies: Aerolia & Sogerma. Through the years, the firm has worked on aircraft cabins with many of the world’s top airlines that operate both Airbus and Boeing planes.
Plenty of privacy
When it comes to the OPERA seats, passengers can expect a design in a reverse herringbone configuration with the following features:
- Wide and long full-flat bed
- Full privacy with a fully integrated door in option
- Full access with an enhanced direct view to the window
- Very large surfaces and stowage capacities
- Largest screen capability on single-aisle aircraft
It is not only the sliding door that gives privacy benefits. The design of the seat itself adds extra seclusion.
Regnier told Simple Flying the following:
“More than the sliding door option, the configuration of the OPERA seat gives a new level of privacy thanks to its reverse herringbone configuration. The passenger’s view is directed outwards, therefore preserving their intimacy.”
Other aspects of the seat include adjustable armrests and ambient light. Notably, the seat holds a simplified design for weight and cost optimization, along with easy installation and wiring of monitors.
Considerable attention has been given to the interior trimmings of each seat. Travelers can expect soft and warm materials, smooth mechanism, and smart ergonomics for a tailored and interactive experience. Above all, STELIA seeks to deliver the familiar comfort on a widebody, but on a narrowbody plane.
Comfort for long journeys
Airlines are looking to deploy narrowbody planes on more long-haul routes this decade. Modern aircraft are enabling this opportunity with updated technology. For instance, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue, and Wizz Air are some of several operators there have placed orders for the Airbus A321XLR.
These planes will undoubtedly see more transoceanic and transcontinental single-aisle operations in the future. Subsequently, there is a greater need for narrowbody premium seating for these longer distances.
Regnier summarised the opportunities with the following:
“Especially designed for the new coming long haul market on single-aisle aircraft, we are targeting airlines that are willing to operate seven to nine hours flights with single-aisle platforms. The A321XLR is opening new opportunities for airlines, especially for the legacy carriers which will try to offer point to point premium routes in addition to their traditional offer via their hub platforms. In its current dimensions, the seat fits with all the A320 family platforms.”
The OPERA seat is currently at the final stage of the certification process for the A320 family series. Regnier explains that it will be ready by early 2021, and the lead-time is set to be short in order to anticipate market recovery. The company works hand in hand with aircraft OEM (Original Aircraft Manufacturers) and airlines to meet all the technical requirements expected for a business class seat.
A changing market
Many projects have been postponed, and discussions have been delayed throughout the aviation industry amid the pandemic. Despite this, the company had maintained and even accelerated the release of OPERA. Ultimately, it believes that the A321XLR will be one of the key drivers of operations and recovery post-pandemic when it comes to the business class cabin section.
Additionally, there were several challenges during the development phase of the seat. While most of STELIA’s competitors tried to adapt their widebody seats to the single-aisle platforms, the firm took the decision to completely rethink its approach and to design this seat, taking into account the specificity of a narrowbody platform. The result is an optimized seat with an efficient layout and a high level of comfort, with pioneering dimensions on single-aisle aircraft.
Altogether, the global health crisis is accelerating the phase-out of the old generation of widebody aircraft. STELIA feels that airlines will try to have more flexibility in their operations and may have smaller platforms in order to maintain some margin.
The firm will continue to work with airlines and OEMs to define the best in class in terms of comfort and security for business class passengers worldwide. Along with this, it says affirms that it will keep innovating to consolidate its leading position in the sector.
Regnier summarized the company’s goals with the following statement:
“We at STELIA always want to exceed our customer’s expectations. We will maintain this objective in order to accompany our customers in this new era, where we will certainly have a lot to bring.”
There will be plenty of transitions this decade following the market shakeup. One of these changes is set to be new business class seating on narrowbody aircraft.
What are your thoughts about STELIA Aerospace’s narrowbody aircraft seats? Are you looking forward to the company’s future initiatives this decade? Let us know what you think of the firm’s plans in the comment section.