While travel is currently at a standstill and scheduled flights are on pause, the plane industry is taking this time to question what the future of travel could look like and come up with safer solutions.
One Italian aviation design firm, Aviointeriors, has dreamed up what air travel could look like after the pandemic with social distancing front of mind. They have shared two airplane seat design concepts that could keep travelers safer if their seat neighbor coughs or sneezes.
The first concept, the "Janus" is a two-faced seat that could allow three passengers to be isolated and separated with a transparent shield. Passengers on the aisle and window seats would face forward, while the middle seat would face backward, a feature that has been seen before in some business cabins. But what elevates their proposed safety feature further is the use of the easy-to-clean shield, which they claim could protect passengers from "breath propagation".
"Like two-faced Janus, the god of Ancient Rome, this proposal is distinguished by the reverse position of the center seat of the triple to ensure the maximum isolation between passengers seated next to each other," the firm explained in a statement. "While passengers seated on the side seats, aisle and fuselage, continue to be positioned in the flight direction, as usual, the passenger sitting in the center is facing backward."
"So 'Janus' is a two-faced seat, in fact, this arrangement allows all three passengers to be separated with a shield made of transparent material that isolates them from each other, creating a protective barrier for everyone. Each passenger has their own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle," they continued.
The "Janus" concept would require plane companies to completely redesign their interiors, but the company believes they can start delivering the product within six months, according to flightglobal.com.
Their second design is a kit-level solution called "Glassafe" which could be implemented in as little as two months. This one doesn't need any changes to a plane's interiors but the transparent shields can be installed directly onto existing seats.
The unusual transparent materials still allow passengers to “avoid or minimize contacts and interactions via air, […] so as to reduce the probability of contamination by viruses or other.”
Aviointeriors has filed patent applications for both designs, now we need to wait and see if regulators approve it.