Riding high: new plane 'saddle' would pack in passengers

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The Independent Travel

A new design for economy class airline seating gives a new meaning to the term "cattle class" - as passengers would sit on saddle-type seats, even closer to the person in front than now.

The "SkyRider" design, unveiled at a trade fair in Long Beach, California, may appeal to budget airlines around the world eager to save valuable extra inches in the back end of planes.

The new seats would decrease the pitch, or distance, between seats to 23 inches (58 cm) or less, compared to an average of 28 inches (70 cm), said Italian company Aviointeriors in a statement.

"With a much reduced seat pitch, the SkyRider preserves a comfortable position for the low fare passengers," said the company as the new seats were presented at the Aircraft Interiiors Expo Americas trade fair.

The SkyRider "is intended as a new basic class. The passenger's seating position is similar to that of a touring motor-scooter rider," it added.

"This posture permits that the overall longitudinal space occupied by the seat with the seated passenger is far less than that of a conventional, very high-density 28 inch economy class seat."

Irish budget airline Ryanair's publicity-friendly boss Michael O'Leary has suggested he would even be prepared to introduce standing-room only sections in his planes, although this would likely be banned by European safety rules.

"We understand that some airline companies would even want to go for a Stand-Up Cabin," said Aviointeriors.

"The SkyRider has been designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability, which, even with a dual or three class seating arrangement, will allow maximum certified passenger capacity of the aircraft."