Ryanair could be closer to fulfilling its dream of squeezing even more passengers onto its planes with the unveiling of a new “standing seat”.
Similar to standing seats found in fast food outlets such as McDonalds, the “SkyRider” seat provides just 23 inches of legroom, which is about seven inches less than the average economy seat of 30 inches.
The new design will be unveiled next week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach. It would give passengers an experience akin to riding horseback, with their weight taken on by their legs. It allows seats to be overlapped.
The seats would also offer storage space including a shelf for carry-on bags and hooks to hang a jacket or a handbag.
The makers say the seat would allow budget airlines to squeeze more passengers into their tight cabins.
The designer, Aviointeriors, an aircraft seat design firm based in Latina, Italy, says several airlines, including some in the U.S., have expressed interest.
“We feel extremely confident that this concept will ... have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes,” Dominique Menoud, director general of Aviointeriors Group told USE today.
However he admitted the seat would only be suitable for flights of up to three hours.
“For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours ... this would be comfortable seating.
“The seat ... is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle.”
The company added that the seat, which is in its final stage of testing, had been “designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability”.
Mr Menoud said if a carrier committed to the new design his company would apply for the proper certification.
In July, Ryanair proposed the idea of “standing room only” flights. But European safety regulators ruled out changing regulations for at least two years that would allow the proposal.
European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) regulations currently state: “A seat (or berth for a non-ambulant person) must be provided for each occupant who has reached his or her second birthday.” “This idea [of Ryanair’s] is unprecedented and unlikely to be certified in the near future,” said a spokesman for Easa.