driving T he influence of automotive seats on the design
of their aviation counterparts is well-established.
This is due in part to car companies’ bigger
design budgets – long used to differentiate dozens of
global brands in mature markets – and in more recent
times because car interiors have become increasingly
complex places, thanks to new technology breakthroughs.
“From amenities like heating and cooling, electric
actuation and articulation to manufacturing techniques
like injection-moulding and poured cushions, there has
been a tremendous amount of crossover,” comments
Chris Pinkerton, director of cabin management at
This cross-pollination is especially logical between
luxury carmakers and business jet providers because
their shared customers will often swap the former’s
seat for the latter’s (and back again) in the course of
an intercontinental journey.
JANUARY 2020 023
Much is often made of the automotive sector influencing
aviation, but car designers frequently cite aircraft as
inspirations too – and not just their aerodynamic exteriors.
A very recent example of a luxury car interior heavily
influenced by first-class flying is the Mercedes-Maybach
GLS (pictured), on sale January 2020. The individual rear
seats are reclinable, offer kick-up calf support, pillow-soft
leather headrests and even a fold-down champagne chiller
cabinet in-between them – although the associated
refrigerator unit eats up boot space, even in
this 5.2m (17ft)-long SUV.