Thompson Aero continue path to recovery with new commercial aircraft seat

Thompson Aero Seating's new VantageDUO aircraft seat, which has been developed in Portadown.
Thompson Aero Seating's new VantageDUO aircraft seat, which has been developed in Portadown.

PORTADOWN aerospace manufacturer Thompson Aero Seating has taken another step toward recovery with the launch of a new commercial aircraft seat.

The Chinese-state-owned company’s new VantageDUO seat was unveiled at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg.

Designed to bring maximum comfort to minimal space, it has been developed specifically for the fast-growing long-range single-aisle market.

Thompson Aero said it’ll primarily be deployed for flights of four to six hours, on narrow-body aircraft - where business-class passengers do not need to have a fully flat-bed but would pay for greater comfort than a recliner seat.

It comes as official government data showed Northern Ireland’s aerospace sector remains well behind pre-pandemic levels.

The Index of Production published by the Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency (Nisra) last week, showed output in the north’s engineering, transport and equipment sub-sector during the first quarter of 2022 was still 47.5 per cent below output in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The latest set of accounts filed by Thompson Aero Seating showed its turnover fell by around £50 million in 2020, leaving the manufacturer with a loss before tax of £57m.

But the company is now implementing a new recovery strategy as it emerges from the worst of the pandemic.

Thompson Aero briefed industry insiders in November on Project Phoenix, a programme of developments and projects designed to revive its fortunes.

The VantageDUO appears to be part of that programme. The company said the seat is based upon the zero-gravity principle, where research into the relationship between posture and pressure has established the most comfortable position possible, other than lying flat.

The manufacturer said 'clever design and engineering' means it achieves the same results in the same space used by a traditional recliner business-class seat.

Andy Morris, VP of commercial at Thompson Aero Seating, said the seat went down well at the German show.

"AIX is a huge and well-respected showcase for aircraft cabin interiors and the VantageDUO generated significant interest and many positive comments.

"The VantageDUO offers exceptional comfort and a very marketable seating option, for the same number of passengers as with traditional recliner style business-class seating," he added.

"Thompson Aero Seating is known for creating unique concepts and we are very proud to have developed this seat entirely at our facilities in Northern Ireland.

"It was well-received by airline customers attending the Show and we are looking forward to a launch customer in the not-too-distant future.”