European aircraft manufacturer Airbus wants to recertify its best-selling A320 single-aisle aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of 194 passengers in what would be a super high-density and potentially knee-crushing version of the plane.
As it stands, the current high-density version of the A320 is already certified for a maximum capacity of 186 passengers but Airbus is apparently attempting to push the envelope by squeezing an additional six seats in a way that would partially overlap the main exit doors.
While the stretched A321 is the easiest way for airlines to add passenger capacity in a short-haul aircraft frame, Airbus has been working on ways for airlines to extract maximum revenue out of the shorter A320 for years.
Regulators first approved the A320 to have a maximum capacity of 180 passengers way back in 1992 but in the last few years, Airbus has really pushed new ground on how to add additional seats without sacrificing too much legroom.
The key to finding space for six additional seats was an innovative but controversial lavatory set-up that saw Airbus slice the aft galley in half and squeeze two toilets in the freed-up space.
In the space where the two toilets used to sit just in front of the aft galley, went an extra row of seats. Airbus calls its high-density layout, Space-Flex V2.
The Space-Flex set-up has proven popular with airlines but flight attendants bemoan the lack of workspace and passengers have criticised the ultra-slim lavatories.
But airlines want to squeeze even more seats in the same space.
To add an additional six seats will require Airbus to reduce the space between seats to a mere 28 inches and position several seats so that they partially overlap the exit doors.
This super high-density Layout of Passenger Accommodations or LOPA as it is known in the industry may not appeal to every airline but low-cost carriers might see the potential for generating extra revenue even if passengers are left worse off.
Airbus has also developed a high-density version of its A330 widebody aircraft which was snapped up by budget Filipino airline Cebu Pacific. To fit in an additional 20 seats also required a rethink of where the lavatories were positioned, as well as the inclusion of slim line seating.
Several years ago, Airbus even thought up space-saving ideas for its A380 superjumbo in a bid to win some more orders for the much-maligned aircraft. In the end, however, Airbus failed to convince sceptical operators and the A380 project was forced to shut down.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.