Cobra UK set to unveil the world’s lightest economy aircraft seat

Posted on 26 Mar 2012

The world’s lightest economy aircraft seat is set to be unveiled by Midlands manufacturer Cobra UK this week.

Cobra UK, which employs 120 people across sites in Whitchurch, Wrexham and Wolverhampton, will use its first appearance at Aircraft Interiors Expo to showcase an aerospace breakthrough that will cut carbon emissions by 1,500 tonnes and fuel costs by £850,000 per aeroplane.

The new seat system uses the company’s patented technology, which makes a metal finish for coating high strength polymers to provide 15% weight reductions on current ‘Gen III’ seating.

It has already been independently verified on a number of test flights and the company is hoping to build on initial interest from the airlines by sealing its first order at the show.

Gary Seale, managing director at Cobra UK, explained: “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 principals 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 Boeing 737,” said Mr Seale.

With the new seating system weighing 21kg for a trio of seats, the firm has also manufactured the world’s lightest seat belt and a new lightweight galley trolley.

The company lost a large amount of sales after the closure of MG Rover but has diversified into new markets such as aerospace, growing from £300,000 revenue after the automotive firm’s collapse, to an estimated £19m in sales for the next financial year.

Seale added: “Investment in the latest design software, laser scanning system and high speed CNC machining centres has given us the capability to handle the complex projects and we can see openings in markets where we previously haven’t been involved in.”

More than 50 jobs have been created through this expansion and Cobra UK recently moved to a new production facility in Wrexham to provide engineering solutions in electric sun blinds, interior lighting, loadfloors, load space covers and safety restraint systems.

The firm has been supported by the Manufacturing Advisory Service and UKTI. Its products currently end up in some of the world’s leading cars, including Aston Martin, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and hybrid vehicle manufacturer Fisker.