A Shropshire manufacturer claims to have created the world’s lightest economy aircraft seat – saving airlines hundreds of thousands of pounds in fuel costs.
Cobra UK said it used patented technology to provide enhanced comfort and a 15 per cent weight reduction on current seating.
The company, which has sites in Whitchurch, Wrexham and Wolverhampton, claims the breakthrough will cut carbon emissions by 1,500 tonnes and fuel costs by £850,000 per aeroplane.
The seating has been independently verified on test flights and the company hopes to build on initial interest by sealing its first order at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, where it unveiled the new product.
Managing director Gary Seale said: “We genuinely believe this new seating system could be the most important innovation to hit the aerospace sector in years and it’s all been designed and manufactured in the UK.
"Using principles honed in the automotive sector, our engineering team has adopted a total-cost solution to reducing the weight of aircraft seats and believe we have come up with the world’s lightest option for the Boeing 737.
"The technology we have created basically provides a metal finish for coating strong polymers, ensuring a lighter option, 21kg for a trio of seats, that doesn’t compromise strength and durability.
“Aircraft Interior Expo is a major show for us and will feature all of the big tier one suppliers and attracts buyers from all over the world. If we can seal that first order, it could realistically lead to £50 million of sales within five years.”
Cobra also claims to have created the world’s lightest seat belt and a new lightweight galley trolley.
The company, which employs 120 people, has grown from just £300,000 turnover following the closure of MG Rover in 2005 to an estimated £19 million in sales in the next financial year.The firm supplies parts to the automotive industry, including Aston Martin, Audi, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and hybrid vehicle manufacturer Fisker.
A move to a state-of-the-art facility in Wrexham has seen the company manufacture electric sun blinds, interior lighting, loadfloors, load space covers and safety restraint systems.
Mr Seale added: “R&D is a massive part of our business and we are continually looking at ways where we can meet industry’s growing desire for greener, lighter components.
“Investment in the latest design software, laser scanning system and high speed CNC machining centres give us the capability to handle the most complex projects and we can see openings in markets where we previously haven’t been involved in.”