Steila Aerospace’s Opal seat entered service last year with the promise of a good compromise between space and density for airlines looking to upgrade their business class experience.
But the Opal has been busy around the rest of the show, with both AlloSky and Airbus showing it off in different forms.
Firstly, let’s look at the two variants that are flying at the moment – with Air Calin and Air Senegal. These are essentially the same seat, but with different finishes on top and in the top of passenger console.
Opal is a staggered seat – designed for the 1-2-1 formation on a plane. It’s being designed so you can pack the seats in on a 40.5″ seat pitch (converting into a 76.5″ bed). If you’re an airline that prefers to give customers more room, for every inch that you give extra in seat pitch – you’ll increase the bed length by two inches.
Standard width on a bed is 26.2″.
An optimised configuration of 80″ would require a 42″ seat pitch. I tried it at 44″, and there was a fair amount of space and a decent cubby hole for the legs to go.
So – that’s the “basic” Opal Seat – let’s look at it now as the “Connected seat”.
Opal Connected Seat
This was shown at the Airbus booth, as part of their Skywise connected cabin concept. As I explained earlier, t, as well as providing technical feedback to the seat’s performance, inflight management (identifying if it’s in a takeoff/landing position) , it also provides customer connectivity – allowing the customer to use an app on their handheld device (phone/tablet) to control the seat, store settings and so on.
AlloSky In-Flight Virtual Reality Seat
Meanwhile on the other side of the show, the version with the AlloSky In-flight Virtual Reality system. This was first demonstrated at APEX Expo in 2018, which builds Virtual Reality functionality into the seat, with a pair of AlloSky glasses. The company has been busy refining the system, which uses the vibration motors normally used to massage to give motion feedback to audio tracks.
In the try-outs I did, the motors seemed a lot more nuanced compared to the first edition of this shown at APEX.
Combined with the comfort of the Stelia Opal seat, it’s a very interesting combination.
Many different shades of Opal, Many different uses
With two operators of Stelia Aerospace’s Opal so far – with their own variations to the finishes, combined with other uses the seat continues to show its flexibility.
The uses also demonstrated shows the flexibility and adaptability of its design – which for a premium seat manufacturer is important as they seek to meet the requirements of their customer – the airlines, and in turn, the premium flyer.
Whilst the premium travel experience is made up of many things – from the ground service, lounges, boarding, food, customer service and arrivals service – a bedrock of this all is the seat that is offered.
And for Opal – with its options and possibilities – it may be a very good start.
Images: All Economy Class and Beyond.
Thanks to Stelia Aerospace, Airbus and AlloSky for access to their stands in aiding the creation of this article.
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