“Standing room only” may take on an entirely new meaning at the airport. The Skyrider 3.0 standing plane seat was premiered at the Paris Air Show recently by the Italian design firm Avio Interiors, in the hopes that airlines might adopt the space saving seats.

According to an article in The (London) Telegraph, “standing seats” were promoted to airline officials with the hope of becoming the future of economy class seating.

This is the third attempt for Skyrider to become reality. The concept promises “ultra high density” seating, which means carriers could squeeze in more passengers as possible into its planes. If the plan takes off, aircraft could have 20 percent more seats with low maintenance costs.

For example, a Boeing 737 could increase to 227 seats, up from 189.

Avio Interiors Skyrider standing airplane seatsMichael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair is a fan of the idea which would see passengers traveling 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.

While O’Leary is hopeful, testers are not.

The seats were revealed in Germany in April, and according to the article were a “no-go for over 10 minutes.” Another description was a “torture chamber”.

One critic said “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.”

Before the seats are incorporated into the passenger cabin, thorough safety testing is required.

As they are currently designed, the concept seating lacks seatback pockets and entertainment screens. The overhead compartments would also have to be redesigned in a somewhat more shallow configuration. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which governs British skies, said the seats would have to be “100 percent safe” to be viable.

Should they be incorporated into the airplane the new seating configuration would result in a new class of seats, according to Gaetano Perugini, engineering adviser at Avio Interiors. The new standing fixtures would be offered in what is to be called the “ultra-basic economy” class.

Perugini said the airline wants to offer what he referred to as a multi-class configuration. In other words, that an airline could conceivably provide standard economy, premium economy or business class and ultra-basic economy in the same cabin passengers, and idea he called “an innovation for the airline and the passenger.”

The seats take “full advantage of the space between the floor and fuselage… while maintaining adequate comfort,” according to the article.

Despite nine years in a holding pattern, no airline has yet committed to the idea of purchasing the Skyrider.

O’Leary, head of Ryanair, has previously said the airline has considered a “standing area” on its flights. He once described standing seats as “bar stools with seat belts.”

In the past Avio Interiors has suggested that Skyriders are ideal for shorter flights.

Currently, 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.

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Avio Interiors