Thompson have an Ulster solution for Boosting airline capacity and customer satisfaction - DELTA lead the way
Survivability in an aircraft crash is affected by the orientation of the passenger - it is for this reason that cabin staff are seated facing the rear when landing and taking off - unlike their passengers.
In military transports the the seats are often (but not always) configured for passengers to face the rear.
Apart from this there has been no major changes in aircraft seating in the post war, modern pressurised passneger jets and seats have always been placed in strictly straight transverse rows . This configuration places strict limits on passenger numbers and available space. in all passenger classes.
Ulster Brains and Ulster Engineering
Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884) of sound Ulster stock patented his horse drawn reaper in 1834. In the mid west where land was plentiful and cheap labour was short.In 1847 a move to Chicago was decisive and his (then) much improved machinery conquered not only the west had won acclaim at London's Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851 and was by 1856 famous worldwide.
In a simple, straightforward but very clever way a small Ulster Engineering company, Thompson Solutions of Kilkeel, Co.Down have designed a way of providing more passenger room, and greater comfort without reducing passenger count - which should and possibly will, have similiar world wide success.
The competition for airline passengers is intense .
There is a dichotomy in approach by airlines to gain (and keep) passengers revenue and profits.
One route is to generate volume and revenue by low prices and and frequent flights with "no frills" barebone service, especially on short (up to 3 hours) flights.
The other route is to improve the passenger experience , especially on longer flights and for the commercial passengers prepared to pay to allow well paid staff to hit the ground running when they arrive at their business destination.
At one level there is the relentless advance of hi tech services , of on board video and music on demand, provision of power for lap tops, and shortly, for in flight mobile e-mails, texts and internet surfing, to which mobile phone connectivity has just ben added on one Air France plane.
At another level the twin requirements are the more basic human requirments for food and rest. Special foods, in flight chefs, fine wines and every cuisine imagineable are provided ... followed by some peaceful shut eye on a comfortable FLAT bed.
On the largest and most expensive services, such as the new Airbus 38o curently in service with Singapore Airlines there has been a revival of private cabins not unlike those of the old colonial airboat services.
Such luxuries are space hungry, so Thompson Solutions have produced a simple re-jigging of spaces both laterally and horizontally come up with a world beating formula for business class users, which is now being installed as part of a multi million dollar contract with Delta Airlines.
This clever and ergonomically sound solution provides, embodying clever and sound engineering results in seating modules incorporating a fully flat adjustable Horizontal bed/seat up to 80" long, with no lost seating capacity compared with 60" angled bed/seats, and full aisle access to all seats, a third of which are single seats.
This is done by staggering the seats so that the extended bed fits into the seatside large footwall of the preceding seat (3d Quicktime view)
For example their B767-300 plans, a favourite plane for the business only class airlines (hitting a nasty patch at present however) shows a neat way to offer'all business class cabin' with 108 seats with 75" x 26" bed seats each with 17" monitors, 2 seats each side of the central aisle which with a removal of the overhead bin elevates the cabin to a superior first class zone.
This also improves staff working conditions with better aisle access, to seats with more individual space, more storage / leg room room for larger TV monitors all with no loss of seating capacity - or revenue with the big plus of happier customers.
This same principal applied to economy seating, by staggering the seats and overlapping the armrests will provide for 15% more capacity 132 instead of 120 seats or it can be translated ionto a 2" wider seat - which can be improved further by installing triangular toilet rooms on new build aircraft.
Thompson have 40 staff and with orders in hand will need to take on at least 100 more staff and look for more manufacturing capacity.
Just as Cyrus McCormack took a basic requirement and used simple mechanical skills to meet a clear human need Thompson have provided a small but quiet revolution to the way airlines can improve service, retain and build customer returns and sell Ulster engineering expertise worldwide.
It's no surprise Thompson Solutions are talking to many other major airlines and their passenger load configuration plans for the Airbus and Boeing fleets must be causing many airlines to re-consider the best way to use internal space.
Delta have had a torrid time since 9/11 and emerged from bankruptcy and were re-launched only last May. Since then the shares have swung around the offer price but have seen a strong run this last month against a plunging market.
Associated Press said yesterday that Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NWA) are getting closer to the much heralded merger agreement. Delta's board of directors is expected to meet during the next several days, according to their source, and a deal could be announced as early as next week. A Delta-Northwest merger would create the nation's largest carrier, with Delta boasting strength in the Atlantic region and Northwest holding sway over the Pacific. Delta has already stated, though, that its CEO and chairman would have to remain at the helm if it were to accept any merger deal, which might leave NWA chief Doug Steenland looking for a job.