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Publication numberUS20040195875 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/404,739
Publication dateOct 7, 2004
Filing dateApr 1, 2003
Priority dateApr 1, 2003
Publication number10404739, 404739, US 2004/0195875 A1, US 2004/195875 A1, US 20040195875 A1, US 20040195875A1, US 2004195875 A1, US 2004195875A1, US-A1-20040195875, US-A1-2004195875, US2004/0195875A1, US2004/195875A1, US20040195875 A1, US20040195875A1, US2004195875 A1, US2004195875A1
InventorsTrevor Skelly
Original AssigneeB E Aerospace, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator
US 20040195875 A1
Abstract
A reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator. The seat includes a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck, a seat bottom carried by the seat frame, a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between a fully upright and reclined positions, and a sensor for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position. A visual seat position indicator light is operatively associated with the sensor and positioned so as to be observed by a cabin attendant without having to directly observe the seat back for determining whether the seat back is in a fully upright position. The passenger seat may include an end bay for being positioned adjacent a passageway, and the visual seat position indicator light is positioned on the end bay, or the indicator lights may be mounted on one or more display panels.
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Claims(19)
I claim:
1. A reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator, comprising:
(a) a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck;
(b) a seat bottom carried by the seat frame;
(c) a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between a fully upright and reclined positions;
(d) a sensor for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position; and
(e) a visual seat position indicator light operatively associated with the sensor and positioned so as to be observed by a cabin attendant without having to directly observe the seat back for determining whether the seat back is in a fully upright position.
2. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 1, wherein the passenger seat includes an end bay for being positioned adjacent an aisle, and wherein the visual seat position indicator light is positioned on the end bay.
3. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 1, wherein the sensor comprises a proximity switch.
4. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is not in the fully upright position and to activate the light to provide a signal that the seat back is not in the fully upright position.
5. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein the visual seat position indicator comprises a light, and wherein the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is in the fully upright position and activate the light to provide a signal that the seat back is in the fully upright position.
6. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 5, and including a master switch operatively connected between the sensor and the light for deactivating the position indicator during times that a reclined seat back is permitted.
7. A passenger seat group comprising at least two reclining passenger seats, the seat group having a visual seat position indicator, each of the passenger seats comprising:
(a) a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck;
(b) a seat bottom carried by the seat frame;
(c) a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between the fully upright and reclined positions;
(d) a sensor for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position; and
(e) a visual seat position indicator operatively associated with the sensor and positioned to be observed by a cabin attendant without direct observation of the seat back for determining whether the at least two seats are in a fully upright position.
8. A passenger seat group according to claim 7, and including an end bay for being positioned adjacent an aisle, and wherein the visual seat position indicator is positioned on the end bay.
9. A passenger seat group according to claim 7, wherein the sensor comprises a proximity switch.
10. A passenger seat group according to claim 7, wherein the visual seat position indicator comprises a light, and wherein the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is not in a fully upright position and activate the light to provide a signal that the seat back is not in the fully upright position.
11. A passenger seat group according to claim 7, 8, 9 or 10, wherein the visual seat position indicator comprises a light, and wherein the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat backs are in the fully upright position and activate the light to provide a signal that all of the seat backs are in the fully upright position.
12. A passenger seat group according to claim 11, wherein said seat group comprises at three seats.
13. A passenger seat group according to claim 12, wherein the visual seat position indicator includes a single indicator light adapted to activate when any of the three seat backs is not in the fully upright position.
14. A passenger seat group according to claim 13, wherein the visual seat position indicator includes a single indicator light adapted to activate when all of the three seat backs are in the fully upright position.
15. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 13, wherein the visual seat position indicator includes three lights adapted to activate to provide an indication of when respective ones of the three seats backs are not in an upright position.
16. A reclining passenger seat according to claim 12, wherein the visual seat position indicator includes three lights adapted to activate to provide an indication of when a respective seat back is in an upright position.
17. A method of determining whether a reclining passenger seat back is or is not in a fully upright position, comprising the steps of providing:
(a) at least one reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator, comprising:
(i) a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck;
(ii) a seat bottom carried by the seat frame;
(iii) a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between a fully upright and reclined positions;
(iv) a sensor for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position; and
(v) a visual seat position indicator positioned at a location to be observed by a cabin attendant without direct observation of the seat back for determining whether the seat back is in a fully upright position; and
(b) observing the visual seat position indicator from a position remote from the seat to determine whether the seat back is in a fully upright position.
18. A method according to claim 17, and including the step of providing a plurality of passenger seat groups, each seating group including a plurality of passenger seats.
19. A method according to claim 17, and including the step of deactivating the sensor during times that a reclined seat back is permitted.
Description
    TECHNICAL FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    This invention relates to a reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator. The invention is intended to facilitate the ability of, for example, flight attendants to easily determine whether all passengers have moved their seats to a fully upright position when required for take-off, landing or at other required times.
  • [0002]
    The original concept originated in relation to complex, lay-flattype seats, and the difficulty that cabin crew have in determining whether the seats are in the correct position for take off and landing. Presently, flight attendants must walk the aisles of an aircraft and visually observe the position of the individual seat backs in order to comply with Federal Aviation Administrations regulations regarding the position of seat backs during take-off and landing. This is time-consuming and can be unreliable, particularly in large aircraft with center-section coach class seating that includes six to eight connected seats.
  • [0003]
    The present invention thus permits by a variety of different means the positive detection of seat backs that are not in the required position without the requirement that the flight attendants walk the length of the aircraft for this purpose.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0004]
    Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide a reclining passenger seat associated with a visual seat position indicator.
  • [0005]
    It is another object of the invention to provide a reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator thereon for observation by an attendant.
  • [0006]
    It is another object of the invention to provide a visual seat position indicator that permits an attendant to determine the position of seat backs of passenger seats without direct observation of the seat backs.
  • [0007]
    It is another object of the invention to provide a rrr that permits an attendant to determine the position of seat backs of passenger seats without walking past the seats to visually observe the position of the seat backs.
  • [0008]
    It is another object of the invention to provide a visual seat position indicator that permits an attendant to determine the position of seat backs of passenger seats from the flight deck, galley or other location in an aircraft remote from the passenger cabin.
  • [0009]
    These and other objects of the present invention are achieved in the preferred embodiments disclosed below by providing a reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator, comprising a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck, a seat bottom carried by the seat frame, a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between a fully upright and reclined positions, and a sensor for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position. A visual seat position indicator light is operatively associated with the sensor and positioned so as to be observed by a cabin attendant without having to directly observe the seat back for determining whether the seat back is in a fully upright position.
  • [0010]
    According to one preferred embodiment of the invention, the passenger seat includes an end bay for being positioned adjacent a passageway, and the visual seat position indicator light is positioned on the end bay.
  • [0011]
    According to one preferred embodiment of the invention, the sensor comprises a proximity switch.
  • [0012]
    According to another preferred embodiment of the invention, the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is not in the fully upright position and to activate the light to provide a signal that the seat back is not in the fully upright position.
  • [0013]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the visual seat position indicator comprises a light, and the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is in the fully upright position and activate the light to provide a visual indication that the seat back is in the fully upright position.
  • [0014]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, a passenger seat group is provided comprising at least two reclining passenger seats. The seat group has a visual seat position indicator, each of the passenger seats comprising a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck, a seat bottom carried by the seat frame, and a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between the fully upright and reclined positions. A sensor is provided for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position. A visual seat position indicator is operatively associated with the sensor and positioned to be observed by a cabin attendant without direct observation of the seat back for determining whether the at least two seats are in a fully upright position.
  • [0015]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the seat group includes an end bay for being positioned adjacent a passageway, and wherein the visual seat position indicator, for example, a proximity switch, is positioned on the end bay.
  • [0016]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the visual seat position indicator comprises a light, and the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is not in a fully upright position and activate the light to provide a signal that the seat back is not in the fully upright position.
  • [0017]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the visual seat position indicator comprises a light, and the sensor is adapted to detect when the seat back is in the fully upright position and activate the light to provide a signal that the seat back is in the fully upright position.
  • [0018]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the seat group comprises at three seats and the visual seat position indicator includes a single indicator light adapted to activate when any of the three seats is not in the fully upright position.
  • [0019]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the visual seat position indicator includes a single indicator light adapted to activate each of the three seats is in the fully upright position.
  • [0020]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the visual seat position indicator includes three lights adapted to activate to provide an indication of when a respective one of the three seat backs is not in an upright position.
  • [0021]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the visual seat position indicator includes three lights adapted to activate to provide an indication of when a respective seat back is in an upright position.
  • [0022]
    An embodiment of the method of determining whether a reclining passenger seat back is or is not in a fully upright position, comprises the steps of providing at least one reclining passenger seat having a visual seat position indicator, comprising a seat frame for being attached to a supporting deck, a seat bottom carried by the seat frame, and a seat back carried by the seat frame and moveable relative to the seat bottom between a fully upright and reclined positions. A sensor is provided for determining when the seat back is and is not in the fully upright position. A visual seat position indicator is positioned at a location to be observed by a cabin attendant without direct observation of the seat back for determining whether the seat is in a fully upright position. The visual seat back position indicator is observed from a position remote from the seat to determine whether the seat back is in a fully upright position.
  • [0023]
    According to yet another preferred embodiment of the invention, the method includes the step of providing a plurality of passenger seat groups, each seating group including a plurality of passenger seats.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0024]
    Some of the objects of the invention have been set forth above. Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear as the invention proceeds when taken in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:
  • [0025]
    [0025]FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a two-seat group with a visual seat position indicator mounted on the end bay of the seat group;
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 1B is an enlarged view of the visual seat position indicator shown in FIG. 1A, indicating that both seats are in the fully upright position;
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIG. 2A is a perspective view of the two-seat group of FIG. 1A, with the seat back of the left-hand seat in a position other than a fully upright position;
  • [0028]
    [0028]FIG. 2B is an enlarged view of the visual seat position indicator shown in FIG. 2A, indicating that one of the two seats is not in the fully upright position;
  • [0029]
    [0029]FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a three-seat coach class group with a visual seat position indicator mounted on the end bay of the seat group;
  • [0030]
    [0030]FIG. 3B is an enlarged view of the visual seat position indicator shown in FIG. 3A;
  • [0031]
    [0031]FIG. 4A is a perspective view of the three-seat group of FIG. 3A, with the seat back of the center seat in a position other than a fully upright position;
  • [0032]
    [0032]FIG. 4B is an enlarged view of the visual seat position indicator shown in FIG. 4A, indicating that one of the seats is not in the fully upright position;
  • [0033]
    [0033]FIG. 5A is a perspective view of a three-seat coach class group with a three-light visual seat position indicator mounted on the end bay of the seat group;
  • [0034]
    [0034]FIG. 5B is an enlarged view of the visual seat position indicator shown in FIG. 3A;
  • [0035]
    [0035]FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the three-seat group of FIG. 5A, with the seat back of the center seat in a position other than a fully upright position;
  • [0036]
    [0036]FIG. 6B is an enlarged view of the visual seat position indicator shown in FIG. 4A, indicating that the center seat back is not in the fully upright position;
  • [0037]
    [0037]FIG. 7 is a schematic view of a proximity switch-type sensor in a position where the seat back is in the fully upright position;
  • [0038]
    [0038]FIG. 8 is a schematic view of a proximity switch-type sensor in a position where the seat back is not in the fully upright position; and
  • [0039]
    [0039]FIG. 9 is a top plan view of an aircraft cabin showing a configuration where a display panel in a single location provides an indication of the seat back position of the seats in the cabin.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT AND BEST MODE
  • [0040]
    Referring now specifically to the drawings, a first class aircraft passenger seat group with a visual seat position indicator according to the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1A and shown generally at reference numeral 10. The seat group 10 includes two individual seats 11 and 12, each of which include a base 11A, 12A, respectively, that support the seat group 10 on the aircraft deck by means of track fasteners, as is conventional. Each seat also includes a seat bottom 11B, 12B and a reclinable seat back 11C, 12C, respectively. The seat group also includes an end bay 14 that serves as a side support for the seat 12 and provides both separation of the seat occupant and protection of the seat components from luggage, serving carts and passengers transiting the seat group 10 along an adjacent aisle.
  • [0041]
    In accordance with the invention, a small light assembly 16, comprising a mounting plate 17 and a single light 18, is mounted on the end bay so that it is visible from a position remote from the seat group 10. The light 18 may be any suitable light source, preferably a light-emitting diode (“LED”), but also a small incandescent bulb.
  • [0042]
    In one embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the light 18 is “off” when both of the seat backs 11C, 12C are properly in their fully upright position, and the light 18 is “on” when either of the seat backs 11C or 12C is not in the fully upright position, as shown in FIGS. 2A, 2B The single indication given by the single light 18 is sufficient to draw the attention of an attendant, who would then go to the seat group 10 and request that the passenger in seat 11 raise the seat back 11C to the required position.
  • [0043]
    Referring now to FIGS. 3A and 3B, the invention is further illustrated and described with reference to a three seat coach class group 20. Seat group 20 includes a base 21 on which are mounted three seats 22, 23 and 24. The seats 22, 23 and 24 include respective seat bottoms 22A, 23A, 24A, reclinable seat backs 22B, 23B and 24B, respectively, together with shared armrests 25A-D.
  • [0044]
    In accordance with the invention, a small light assembly 26, comprising a mounting plate 27 and a single light 28, is mounted on an end bay 29, formed from the frame of seat 22, so that the light 28 is visible from a position remote from the seat group 20. As described above, the light 28 may be any suitable light source, preferably a light-emitting diode (“LED”), but also a small incandescent bulb.
  • [0045]
    As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the light 28 is “off” when all three of the seat backs 22B, 23B, 24B are properly in their fully upright position. The light 28 is “on” when any one of the three seat backs 22B, 23B, 24B is not in the fully upright position, as shown in FIGS. 4A, 4B. The single indication given by the single light 28 is sufficient to draw the attention of an attendant, who would then go to the seat group 20 and request that the passenger in seat 23 raise the seat back 23B to the required position.
  • [0046]
    Referring now to FIGS. 5A and 5B, the invention is further illustrated and described with reference to a modification of the three seat coach class group 20.
  • [0047]
    In accordance with the invention, a small light assembly 30, comprising a mounting plate 31 and a three lights 32, 33, 34, is mounted on the end bay 29, so that the light 32, 33, 34 are visible from a position remote from the seat group 20. The lights 32, 33, 34 may be any suitable light source, preferably a light-emitting diode (“LED”), but also a small incandescent bulb.
  • [0048]
    As shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, all of the lights 32, 33, 34 are “off” when all three of the seat backs 22B, 23B, 24B are properly in their fully upright position. The lights 32, 33, 34 are “off” or “on” when a respective one of three seat backs 22B, 23B, 24B is not in the fully upright position, as shown in FIGS. 6A, 6B. The indication given by the light 33 draws the attention of an attendant and informs the attendant that the seat back 23B of the center seat 23 is not in the fully upright position.
  • [0049]
    Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, one preferred embodiment of the circuit that includes the visual indicator and sensor is shown schematically. A proximity switch 40 is positioned between the seat base and seat back. The proximity switch 40 includes two cooperating switch elements 41, 42 that close a circuit when brought into a predetermined proximity with each other. Thus, as is shown in FIG. 7, an upright seat condition separates the switch elements 41,42, opening the circuit and causing a “light off” condition indicative of the seat back being in the required fully upright condition.
  • [0050]
    Conversely, any position other than a fully upright position closes the circuit, causing a “light on” condition indicative of the seat back being in any position other than the required fully upright position.
  • [0051]
    An optional feature of the system is a master switch 45 that can be used to switch off the system during normal inflight conditions after takeoff and before landing. The absence of the lights during normal flight prevents the flight attendants from being desensitized by lights switching off and on during normal in-flight activity. By activating the circuits only during takeoff and landing conditions, the lights have only a single, unambiguous meaning and are not distractions at other times.
  • [0052]
    The particular embodiment shown schematically in FIGS. 7 and 8 is only illustrative of many different means of detecting the position of the seat back. Many different types of devices, such as proximity switches, limit switches, reed switches and the like can be used, as will be apparent to those of skill in the art.
  • [0053]
    As is shown in FIG. 9, an alternative to placement of the visual seat position indicators on the individual seats or seat groups is the placement of at least one display panel 60 containing at least one light for each seat group in the galley or other location other than the passenger cabin. In very large aircraft, the indicator lights can be placed on more than one panel and dispersed throughout the aircraft for observation by attendants in various locations throughout the aircraft. Thus, the location of seats with seat backs not in the fully upright position can be identified from a central location.
  • [0054]
    Other iterations are possible. For example, the electronic seat control unit found under the seat bottom on many first class seats already “knows” the position of the seat actuator, so that this position can be detected and used to illuminate the appropriate indicator lights based on the position of the seat back. In current seat designs, a central controller is linked to a Passenger Control Unit (PCU) that the passenger uses to actuate the seat. As well as having individual buttons to control each separate function of the seat, the PCU typically has single buttons that can be pressed in order to cause the seat to translate through a number of motions utilizing several actuators to achieve various frequently used positions, e.g., full lie-flat and the take-off and landing positions. Thus, a further embodiment provides a controller that illuminates a light on the PCU whenever the take-off and landing position has been reached. As there are separate button/icons for this position, it may be that the icon becomes illuminated in a particular color that would inform the cabin crew that the seat is in the appropriate position.
  • [0055]
    Also, in another embodiment, the seat controllers in the cabin may be linked to a central controller which the cabin crew can read. The central controller can be used to provide information only regarding the position of each seat or provide the cabin crew with the opportunity to control, the seat from the central position
  • [0056]
    In a further embodiment, the central controller may be part of a larger cabin management master system that is linked to the seats. The central controller could also be used for fault detection. In the event that passenger exercise features are provided on the seat, the central controller could be used to validate that the passenger took appropriate actions during the flight to maintain their well being. The central controller can be linked to the seat and used by the cabin crew to raise all of the seats to the upright position between flights in order to prepare the cabin for the next flight.
  • [0057]
    The central controller can also used to store information regarding each passenger, for example, passenger name, preferred seat setting/adjustment, and to generate a welcome message. This data may be related to the frequent flyer card.
  • [0058]
    Passengers may be provided with the opportunity to select from menu options that are listed on the seat. The seat controller or Central controller may be used to record maintenance data. For example, the number of cycles that each actuator has been through, thus, providing the opportunity to predict and schedule maintenance. As can be seen, these features mean that the cabin crew does not have to bother passengers in order to determine whether the seat is in the correct position.
  • [0059]
    A visual seat position indicator is described above. Various details of the invention may be changed without departing from its scope. Furthermore, the foregoing description of the preferred embodiment of the invention and the best mode for practicing the invention are provided for the purpose of illustration only and not for the purpose of limitation—the invention being defined by the claims.
Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8157323 *Aug 5, 2008Apr 17, 2012Trw Automotive GmbhSeat occupancy detection unit
US9187033Aug 19, 2011Nov 17, 2015Recaro Aircraft Seating Gmbh & Co. KgPassenger seat
US20110227380 *Aug 5, 2008Sep 22, 2011Oliver BuntzSeat occupancy detection unit
US20160080042 *Sep 11, 2015Mar 17, 2016Zodiac Actuation SystemsWireless equipment for airplane seat
EP2602189B1 *Dec 8, 2011Mar 16, 2016Airbus SASSeat system
WO2012025212A1Aug 19, 2011Mar 1, 2012Recaro Aircraft Seating Gmbh & Co. KgPassenger seat
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/217.3
International ClassificationB64D11/06, B60N2/02
Cooperative ClassificationB64D11/0639, B60N2002/0268, B64D11/0624, B64D11/06, B60N2002/0272, B60N2/242, B60N2/0252
European ClassificationB60N2/02B6C, B64D11/06
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 1, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: B E AEROSPACE, INC., FLORIDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SKELLY, TREVOR B.;REEL/FRAME:013941/0798
Effective date: 20030328