The prospect of "standing seats" in economy class has moved another inch closer to reality, with the third incarnation of the now-infamous Skyrider being showcased to airline bosses.
Italian design firm Avio Interiors used the Paris Air Show to show off its Skyrider 3.0, promising "ultra high density" seating to carriers looking to squeeze as many passengers as possible into its planes.
The concept would make it possible for aircraft to have 20 per cent more seats, with "low maintenance costs"; so a typical Boeing 737 belonging to Ryanair, whose chief executive Michael O'Leary has been attracted to the idea in the past, could have 227 seats instead of 189.
Skyrider, which has been in the pipeline for a decade, would have passengers travel in a supported stance, with a thin seat and arm-rest dividers. The "seats" are somewhat padded and afford 23 inches of legroom, or "pitch", compared to a typical 30.
The latest version of the seats, coloured in blue and red, did not win over all its testers. Andreas Speath, an aviation journalist based in Germany, where the seats were first unveiled in April, said the seats were a "no-go for over 10 minutes". Another described the furniture as a "torture chamber".
American travel blogger The Points Guy has previously tried out the seats, and stated: "My knees were firmly planted against the seatback for the entire time in the rear row. Perhaps that discomfort distracted me, but spending 10 minutes sitting in the saddle seat really didn't seem to be bad."
Gaetano Perugini, engineering adviser at Avio Interiors, said the seats could be offered in an "ultra-basic economy" class.
"The message is, we do not want to put thousands of people in the cabin, we want to offer a multi-class configuration, which is nowadays impossible if you want to reach the maximum load of passengers," he told CNN.
"So that means that in the same cabin, you will have standard economy, premium economy or business class and ultra-basic economy - which is an innovation for the airline and the passenger."
Avio said that the seats take "full advantage of the space between the floor and fuselage… while maintaining adequate comfort".
Despite nine years in the shop window, no airline has yet committed to purchasing the Skyrider. O'Leary, head of Ryanair, has previously said the airline has considered a "standing area" on its flights. He famously said a plane is just a "b***** bus with wings" and standing seats "bar stools with seat belts".
In the past Avio Interiors has said that carriers could be keen to use Skyriders on short-haul flights. "We are convinced of their use in aircraft, maybe not immediately but we believe it can definitely be a configuration on which the short-haul flights will move," a spokesperson said.
The seats would need to undergo thorough safety testing should the concept take to the sky, but as it stands there appear to be no seatback pockets, entertainment screens and the need for shallower overhead lockers. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which governs British skies, said the seats would have to be "100 per cent safe" to be viable.
The possible pro to the introduction of the Skyrider would be a fall in the cost of air fares, with such seats likely to be offered at unprecedented prices.
The Telegraph, London