2005: SAS’s new Horizon
In 2005 SAS, the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and
Sweden, announced it was to be the launch customer for
Horizon, a major update of the successful Eclipse flatbed
business class seat, which was flying with several
airlines including Air France and Swiss. Both seats were
designed by Contour (now part of Safran Seats) and the
Acumen design agency in London, a successful pairing
that had already worked on several seating projects
together and hit headlines in 1996 with their landmark
project, British Airways’ first class ‘bed in the sky’.
With Horizon they sought to create a best-in-class
seating platform that met the needs of frequent flyers,
with easy customisation for airline brands, and
specification options such as modular privacy shrouds
of various heights and an adjustable ‘electric pillow’.
While beds were novel and exciting at the time, the
team felt that a bed alone was not enough to create
long-term satisfaction, especially for daytime flyers.
“Above all passengers wanted to choose what they
do when they fly, whether sleeping, relaxing or working,
so privacy and personal space was very important,” says
Lena Erneling Albers, SAS’s then-manager of product,
who is still carrying on her good work at the airline.
“How the product performs as a seat is just as
important as how it performs as a bed. Our
benchmarking showed the Horizon seat had the
greatest potential to meet our demanding requirements,
balancing space, sleeping comfort, privacy, design
and functionality,” she adds.
The Horizon designer team added a ‘lazy Z’ seating
position and concentrated on maximising liveable space,
fitting armrests that could be lowered to deliver a bed
that was 26in across – some 5.5in wider than Eclipse.
Within the same 61in pitch as Eclipse, Horizon’s bed
length also grew, from 72in to 76in, achieved through
a complete re-engineering of the seat frame.
Such figures were a key driver behind SAS’s decision
to launch Horizon on its A340 and A330 fleet. “Of course
the modern, minimal design was important to us,’ recalls
Albers, “but it was the living space combined with the
bed width and angle that convinced us”.
Horizon weighed 120kg without IFE, making it the
lightest seat in its class, but customers could go to town
on the IFE, with LCD display options from 10.6in to 15in
– quite a size for 2005.
A key figure who worked on the project was Edson
Alexandrino, a senior designer at Acumen, who is now
associate director at the studio and has since worked
on major projects such as Etihad’s A380/B787 business
class layouts and the Aura and Venus seats. As he
recalls, “If you put the seat in a lounge it wouldn’t look
out of place. Complex functionality and fussy detailing
were replaced with a sophisticated aesthetic that is
on a level with what you find in a boutique hotel.”
ONE OPTION NOT SPECIFIED ON THE
SAS PRODUCT WAS THE FOOTWELL
LIGHTING. THIS AUTOMOTIVEINSPIRED
TOUCH WAS DESIGNED
TO ELIMINATE THE DARK RECESS
AND INCREASE THE FEELING OF
234 MARCH 2020