July 12, 2024

In conversation: Arthur Glain, SAFRAN

We talk to Arthur Glain, Advanced Concept Manager at SAFRAN Seats, to discover how SAFRAN is putting aircraft seating at the forefront of passenger wellbeing...

Q: How can seating be used to enhance the passenger experience?

A: Seats impact the passengers’ comfort and activities all flight and even impact their feelings of safety. Comfort is the first and probably the most important essential for the passenger experience, after safety, and the longer the flight is, the more this statement is true. The seat can also play a role in keeping the passenger entertained during the flight by offering connectivity, personal own device holders or enabling them to work efficiently, if they wish.

Q: How has aircraft seating evolved in recent years and how are things in the new post-Covid era?

A: I wouldn’t say things are back to exactly where we left them in 2020 but we can certainly see a continuity between those pre-pandemic trends and now. 

One trend that has taken another dimension in recent years is the cabin sub-segmentation. Numerous airlines are keen to offer different experiences within the same cabin, better answering specific passengers’ needs and increasing ancillary revenues. Elite front rows, for example, are now an important component of every new cabin design.

Q: How do you design seats to improve passenger wellbeing? 

A: Our Unity seat is a new generation of high-end forward-facing Business Class seats. Leveraging the benefits of its layout and its ability to provide all passengers with direct access to the aisles, it offers an innovative design, a spacious suite environment and multiple storage areas. The seat itself is extra-large compared to other seats in its category and it offers the comfort of a spacious fully-horizontal bed. Unity is genuinely designed for privacy. 

Meanwhile, our VUE seat is adapted to long-haul flights on narrow-body airplanes. It is designed to offer passengers a similar experience to that of the most comfortable wide-body aircraft while maintaining an efficient cabin layout for the airline. VUE already has two launch customers, one on the Airbus A320 family and the other on the Boeing 737 family, and will enter into service in 2023. 

The U-Dream seat promises a flawless rest or sleep in Economy, Premium Economy or Domestic Business class. By introducing a new degree of freedom, the U-Dream headrest system provides passengers with a neck and head support like no other. It provides one extra degree of freedom against other solutions in the market which makes the whole difference in terms of side support: no need to bend your neck to get the expected lateral support.

Q: Tell us about Euphony.

A: Euphony is groundbreaking experience developed by SAFRAN and our audio partner Devialet. It is a ‘headset-free’ solution, delivering a high-fidelity audio experience to each individual passenger while ensuring other passengers in the cabin are not disturbed.

It is not rocket science to install a pair of loudspeakers in a headrest, however, providing high-fidelity audio at an audible level while keeping the rest of the cabin perfectly quiet, proved a sizable challenge.

Concisely and without disclosing too much detail, we can say that thanks to patented algorithms, Euphony continuously adapts the audio output to the cabin noise level, frequency and content type making for a truly seamless experience for passengers. 

Q: Explain the Devialet partnership.

A: Devialet is today the most innovative acoustic engineering company. They have worked on a wide range of projects, in very diverse and sometimes incredibly challenging environments and consistently come up with impressive solutions. The low frequency-saturated cabin interior coupled with close proximity between users rendered our environment just as challenging. We worked with a number of acoustic engineering companies before selecting Devialet based on a very convincing proof of concept. We needed a partner able to come up with the right hardware but most importantly with the right digital signal processing, and this is what Devialet is all about – a tech company creating advanced algorithms to perfectly compensate any environment while delivering top tier quality audio.

Q: What passenger needs does Euphony address? 

A: Our user experience studies consistently show that headphones create a number of pain points in flight. Physical fatigue on and around ears, difficulties communicating with others, wires getting in the way. In an ideal world, we would all rather be able to listen to our content the way we do at home, with no intrusive hardware, wirelessly, and with the ability to communicate with those near us. This is the goal we set ourselves when for Euphony from the start, in 2018. 

Q: Tell us a bit about Project Sunrise? 

A: Project Sunrise keeps passenger wellbeing at the center of everything. Without disclosing too much, the light in the cabin and on the seats will have a major impact on jet lag management and wellbeing onboard and after arrival.