CHICAGO- Specifics about the recently unveiled United Airlines (UA) New Polaris lie-flat business class seats designed for the narrowbody Airbus A321XLR and a select group of the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft have been disclosed.
The patent for United’s innovative narrowbody business class lie-flat seat, which was initially mentioned by the airline’s former President, Scott Kirby, in 2018 and was described last year as something that would greatly impress competitors, has been noted by PaxEx.aero.
United New Polaris Seats
The design plans reveal a herringbone seating arrangement with seats positioned at a 49° angle relative to the direction of travel.
This offset, resembling the recently introduced Collins Aerospace Aurora design, enables a higher cabin capacity while still providing passengers with lie-flat beds.
In the newly patented design, there’s an additional “space-sharing region” where one passenger receives extra space at shoulder level, and the neighboring passenger gains additional space for their lower arm, contributing to an increased cabin density.
The patent describes this feature as follows:
In the shared space area, the upper portion of the screen may extend beyond the seat pan of the first seat unit when the seat units are arranged in the seating configuration.
Such an arrangement can create additional shoulder space for the second seat unit without significantly reducing the usable space for the passenger in the first seat unit (as the overhang is positioned above the arm space of the passenger in the first seat unit).
The lower portion of the screen, preferably, does not extend beyond the seat pan of the first seat unit when the seat units are configured for seating.
The patent document presents various possible dimensions for the seats, but one illustration shows a pitch of 28 inches while still providing a remarkable bed length of 75-78 inches.
This configuration achieves a remarkable seating density while ensuring that every passenger has direct access to the aisle.
Unique A321XLR and 737 MAX Seats
The patent illustrations also depict 14 rows of these seats, indicating a sizable premium cabin. While it could be configured in a smaller layout, this design is reminiscent of United’s older p.s. cabins used for premium transcontinental routes in the past.
It’s also consistent with a 2019 application that sought approval for seats with a higher offset angle on the 737 MAX 10. It has long been expected that this aircraft type would have a sub-fleet with a premium configuration for transcontinental operations.
Likewise, it has been confirmed that the A321XLR will offer a lie-flat bed option for its long-haul missions. This seat design, as previously described by Patrick Quayle, incorporates key features from the twin-aisle Polaris design and adapts them to the single-aisle market.
Based on the measurements provided in the documents, these seats should be suitable for both aircraft types. Both the MAX 10 and A321XLR are expected to join the United Fleet in the next few years, although certification and production schedules for both aircraft types remain subject to change.
Manufacturer of these Seats
It’s worth noting that neither of the patents mentions privacy doors for the seats. It’s possible that privacy doors could be an optional feature not specified in the patents, especially given the competitive landscape.
However, it’s somewhat understandable as privacy doors wouldn’t be a unique feature to patent at this stage.
Additionally, there is no indication in the design of an extra premium layout for the bulkhead row seats. While some airlines have used this space to create an even more premium offering within the forward cabin, the new Collins Aurora seat design reserves this space for galley carts.
It remains unclear how United will utilize the additional room on board. Still, based on the patent drawings, it doesn’t seem that they are planning to introduce a more premium passenger offering.
It’s important to note that while these patents were filed by United Airlines, the listed inventors are all employees of the UK-based design firm Acumen. The patents are also assigned to United.
Acumen previously collaborated with United on the original Polaris seats, with Zodiac (now Safran Seats) manufacturing them based on the Optima platform. While this isn’t a guarantee for the new single-aisle seat design, it does suggest that Acumen is a likely candidate for the project.
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