Business Class seats on South African Airways’ new A320s feature small shelf to stow a tablet device

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By Raymond Kollau,

Airlines around the world are responding to the large number of passengers carrying smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by equipping seats with power sockets and USB ports. A number of airlines and interior suppliers are also looking how to integrate passengers’ own devices with the design of the seat.

For example, Japan Airlines’ new Economy seats (manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz), which made their debut on the airline’s B777-300s in January 2013, have been designed with a a conveniently placed smartphone holder which is also located near the USB port. For more examples on how airlines are coming up with smart seat-PED integration designs, see our ‘Bring Your Own Device’ article [pdf] in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

South African Airways fleet renewal
South African Airways (SAA) has recently unveiled the interior of its new A320 aircraft, which have been designed by aircraft interior designers Priestmangoode and feature seats from seat manufacturer Geven. The new A320s, configured in a 24 Business and 114 Economy setting, boast a modern, sleek South African-themed interior, which will also form the basis of SAA’s future widebody aircraft designs.

A full story on SAA’s new A320s can be found in the March edition of the excellent Aircraft Interiors International magazine.

Integrate your own device
The Geven Comoda seats in SAA’s A320 Business Class have an innovative feature: The back shell has a small shelf to stow a tablet device, with a USB power point that keeps the device powered during the flight, and power plugs in the centre console for power.

Aircraft Interiors International reports that the Geven Comoda business seat has been customized for SAA, with the removable IFE setup saving project time and airline costs, as it cuts down on software issues, cabling and maintenance.

Myriam Bracke, executive manager of product development at SAA, explains the decisions the airline made on IFE for the A320s to Aircraft Interiors International: “We did a business case on IFE, and giving power for all passengers is important, we have USB and PC power for each passenger in Business Class, and shared outlets in Economy. We didn’t want embedded IFE due to the weight, and also the restrictions it brings. If you want to put in a couple more seats it becomes extremely difficult when you have embedded IFE systems. These A320s will fly everything from a short route of one hour from Johannesburg to Durban, to a four-hour route from Johannesburg to Kinshasa. To carry the extra weight on a Durban-Johannesburg route doesn’t make sense.”

Wireless IFE
SAA is also trialling a loan system of Samsung tablets – with IFE content already loaded – on flights of over four hours, to see how well the logistics work, and has also put out a tender for a wireless IFE system solution that will see content streamed to passengers’ personal devices.

Last year, the APEX blog also revealed that the Geven seats featuring the tablet holder will also be installed on Taiwanese carrier TransAsia.


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