5 Unbelievable Airplane Seat Patents

Any air traveler knows there's always room for improvement in the friendly skies, and while we're all for forward-thinking innovations, these recent seat ideas might be better left at the patent office. 


Earlier this month, Airbus filed a patent for a style of airplane seating best described as stackable—though they also like to (euphemistically) call it “mezzanine seating.” The reaction was, well, not great. In the patent filing, Airbus said it’s “important from an economic point of view to make optimum use of the available space in a passenger cabin.” We say we hope it never happens. The company files about 600 patents a year—so thankfully, it probably won't. 


Airbus is a repeat offender in the arena of strange seat patents. This one has only a small seat and backrest, and narrow armrests—basically creating more room in the cabin for more passengers by scaling down the size of the seats. Fast Company gets the credit for the apt dubbing.


Here’s another one that did not thrill the frequent-flying masses. Zodiac Seats France recently patented a setup called “Economy Class Cabin Hexagon” which flips the middle seat to face backward.


For most, falling asleep on a plane ranges from tough to impossible, but Boeing might have a way to fix that. They patented an “upright sleep support system” that looks sort of like a massage chair. It’s supposedly a more natural approach than the airplane neck pillow, though it does seem susceptible to public drooling issues.  


Airbus does more than dream big about seating—they’ve also patented ideas on how to transform the airplane itself. What The Financial Times called a “flying doughnut” is actually an aircraft with amphitheater-style seating as part of a design to help distribute cabin pressure in a more efficient way.

When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.

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How the Wright Brothers' Plane Compares to the World's Largest Aircraft
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The Wright brothers famously built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, controllable aircraft. But while the siblings revolutionized the field of aviation, their early plane looks tiny—and dare we say quaint-looking—when compared to the aerial giants that came after it.

In Tech Insider’s video below, you can see how the Wright brothers’ flyer stacks up against the scale of other aircrafts. You'll notice that size doesn't always guarantee a successful journey. The Hughes H-4 Hercules—the largest flying boat ever made—never made it past the prototype stage, performing only one brief flight in 1947. And the Hindenburg, which was 804 feet long and could fit 80 Olympic swimming pools, famously exploded on May 6, 1937.

Today’s longest commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8, which measures 251 feet from nose to tail. While slightly shorter (238 feet), the Airbus A380 is certified to hold more people than any other plane in the air—a total of 850 passengers. That record won't last long, though: In a few years, the Stratolaunch carrier—the widest aircraft ever built—will dwarf its contemporaries when it takes to the skies in 2019. Built to launch rockets into orbit, its wingspan is about the size of a football field, even bigger than that of the Hughes H-4 Hercules.

Still, what the Wright brothers’ plane lacked in size, it made up for in ingenuity. Without it, these other giants may never have existed.

[h/t: Tech Insider]


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