Advancing comfort on JetBlue's A220
This is a special feature from PAX Tech's February 2021 Color Schemes, Lighting and Connectivity digital edition.
JetBlue kicked off the year with the delivery of its first order of the A220 model aircraft. The unveiled cabin includes components from a number of companies, including seats from Collins Aerospace, Thales’ AVANT IFE seatback system and Viasat for connectivity. JetBlue ordered 70 aircraft in total, to be delivered to its home at John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 5.
“With the A220, it was exciting because the aircraft is so spacious,” Mariya Stoyanova, director of product development at JetBlue tells PAX Tech.
Following on the success of the airline’s A321neo product, JetBlue leveraged the size of the A220 cabin to offer passengers as much comfort as possible. The A220 marks the airline’s first two-by-three configuration, resulting in fewer middle seats. JetBlue chose the Meridian seat from Collins Aerospace for the 140-seat cabin. The seat has an expanded width of 18.6 inches and a contoured seatback at knee level that gives each passenger more living space. The Ultraleather® seatback cushion and headrest add a sophisticated and comfortable feel. JetBlue’s Core Experience, or Economy Class, offers six rows of its Even More Space seating, which results in up to seven inches of additional legroom.
High ceilings and large windows help passengers feel like the space is “huge,” Stoyanova adds.
The added comfortability is convenient on the A220 which JetBlue plans to fly it for “longer missions,” Stoyanova says. The aircraft has a nearly 30 percent lower direct operating cost per seat than the current Embraer 190. Optimizing fuel burn is a step in JetBlue’s cost-conscious sustainability strategy, and prioritizing fuel-efficient aircraft and engines aligns its approach to reducing emissions. Earlier this year, JetBlue became the first major U.S. airline to achieve carbon neutrality for all domestic flights.
In August 2019, Viasat and JetBlue announced that the A220-300 fleet would be equipped with the company’s free, high-speed Fly-Fi connectivity, but the two companies have been partners since December of 2013. The A220s are outfitted with Viasat’s Ka-band IFC kit, which is compatible with the company’s entire constellation of satellites.
Being a playful brand, Stoyanova says the airline integrates its identity in a non-obvious way throughout the cabin. The mood-lighting aboard the A220 is inspired by the schemes from the A321neo, including its signature blue and orange pallet. The color selection is designed with both the passengers and crew in mind and scenarios are mapped out in a mock-up cabin setting.
One color selection for passengers was suggested by a crew member where JetBlue wanted to create a warm cabin feeling so experts experimented with the color orange, which was brought to a level of a candlelight hue,” Stoyanova says, adding that “Fun is a big part of our culture and brand.”
Comfortable and cool
A major focus for the refresh was making seating more comfortable for each passenger, from collaborators including Tapis, and Ultrafabrics.
Outfitted with the Meridian seat from Collins, the headrest and seatback cushion are made from Ultraleather® PromessaAV, a breathable vegan material from Ultrafabrics and distributed by Tapis Corp. Tapis is Ultrafabrics’ exclusive agent and distributor in the aviation industry, working together for more than forty years.
“We’re spending a lot of time in research development and engineering,” says Matthew Nicholls, Sales Director at Tapis. “We need safety, cleanability, antimicrobial products, and comfort to look after the passenger.”
Ultrafabrics’ manufactures PromessaAV using proprietary Takumi Technology. The microfoam, protective surface layer, topskin layer and substrate layer is manufactured in a wet process that does not use adhesive. The layers are passed through an immersion bath and cure together when dry. It results in one unified fabric with lasting strength, without concerns of delamination. It is durable, protects from stains and moisture damage, is allergen and odor free, antimicrobial, non-corrosive and low maintenance.
This method is what keeps the seat looking and feeling like new, Nicholls says. The alternative dry adhesive method that some suppliers use bonds different fabrics together through lamination, including an unfoamed polyurethane material, which does not support the passenger to the same degree, leading to a much less comfortable inflight experience, he explains.
Due to the breathability of the microfoam layer, PromessaAV also helps dissipate heat away from the body to keep the passenger at a comfortable temperature, which is generally 67 degrees Fahrenheit, Nicholls says. Something that is super important for passengers who are trying to enjoy a meal or sleep in the confines of a cabin.
“We can maintain that 67 degrees Fahrenheit, which means we can maintain thermal equilibrium – which means that we’re more comfortable,” Nicholls explains.