How Covid-19 will change airplanes?

Airlines are often trying to come up with innovative ways to cram together as many people on a plane as possible, especially in economy class cabins. But the coronavirus crisis is fundamentally changing this long-held tenet as airlines are bringing social distancing to the skies by sometimes even blocking middle seats. This could potentially even change the way seats are designed and arranged on planes post-Covid-19.

Italian design firm Aviointeriors, which specialises in designing aircraft cabin interiors and passenger seats, has proposed two new seat designs for post-Covid-19 travel that attempt to create some social distance between passengers on planes without losing seating capacity.

Photo: Innovative changes in airplanes. Will the designers succeed?

In one of Aviointeriors’ proposed designs, the middle seat is facing backwards and every seat has a plastic shield partially surrounding it. Each seat is surrounded  by a high shield that prevents the “breath propagation to occupants of adjacent seats.”

The new design does raise practical questions about safety, in-flight meal service and whether it will occupy a larger cabin footprint than the standard plane seat arrangement. 

Rear-facing seats could be safer in the event of an accident or emergency landing as they provide better support for the back, neck and head. Probably airlines would be unlikely to support rear-facing seats due to costs and customer preference.

Designers has also proposed another seat design for airlines for when travel returns after Covid-19. The Italian seat-maker unveiled the Glassafe, a shield that can be added to each seat on a plane to create a barrier between passengers. This shield can also be “easily” installed and removed so airlines do not have to drastically change the cabin interior of the aircraft.

This transparent shield could reduce the probability of contamination by viruses. Glassafe can be made in an opaque material or with different degrees of transparency. Each plastic shield has a cut out for the passenger’s shoulders.
Time will tell whether such a design will be implemented.