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Lightweighting Trends in Aviation

In recent years, airlines have been working with aircraft part supplier networks to reduce fuel costs. In focusing on seating components and applications, companies are able to save on fuel costs for each flight. Experimenting with new materials and metal components has presented a number of new, inspiring seating system innovations.

Maybe it’s about the size of the seat …

Airlines announced that they would be switching to smaller seats several years ago. The smaller seats mean that five or six extra passengers could be accommodated on each flight. Thinner cushions and smaller widths would be the end result with this retrofitting method for these airplane parts. Southwest, US Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and Jet Blue were some of the brands who chose to upgrade to the smaller seats.

Maybe it’s the material …

Some airlines have scrapped the older, bulkier seats opting instead for new, carbon fiber seats. In doing so, airlines can accommodate 16 additional passengers per flight. The newer aircraft part materials provide savings of approximately 20 lbs. per seat.

Maybe it’s about reducing the number of components …

Startups like Expliseat experimented with titanium metal components for seating systems.  The new seating system is made of titanium and composite tubing and is only two inches in thickness. While a conventional seating system may have 500 metal and plastic components, the Expliseat only uses 30 components. Its weight is 8.8 lbs. A combination of alternative materials and fewer components makes these aviation parts much lighter. These seating systems produce 3 to 5 percent in fuel savings.

Maybe it’s about simplicity …

Aircraft seating legs can be engineered to be much lighter. Companies like Reliant Worldwide Plastics have experimented with aluminum alternatives that are 48 percent lighter than materials used in conventional seating. Until now, no seating system has ever been developed with thermoplastic components.

Airlines have adopted newer seating systems to accomplish lightweighting goals and lower fuel costs. Dixien, LLC has worked with OEMs in the past in an effort to help them achieve their lightweighting goals.  As an aircraft part supplier to companies like Gulfstream, we understand the importance of producing quality, fully compliant parts for seating applications and all aircraft systems.

 

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