Southern comfort: Developing Latam Airlines’ cabin reconfiguration

Latam Airlines

Latam Airlines is about to begin an ambitious cabin reconfiguration programme across its widebody fleet. It has called on the services of PriestmanGoode to develop the concept.

It was in August 2018 that Latam Airlines Group announced a $400 million investment to transform the cabins of over 200 aircraft that serve both long and short haul routes throughout its network, which consists of subsidiary carriers in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (plus cargo operations in Brazil and Mexico).

Latam Airlines Peru and Latam Airlines Brazil will receive the first new-look aircraft in early 2019, with more than 200 aircraft, approximately two-thirds of its global fleet, to be modified over the next two years.

Latam Airlines

First up will be the widebody aircraft, initially with a retrofit programme on Boeing 767s and 777s, followed by 787-9s and Airbus A350-900s.

These will be compromise interior, with ThomsonVantage seats in Business Class on the 767 and the slightly larger Vantage XL in Business Class, and recovered seats in LATAM+ (Premium Economy) and Economy.

The first full interiors will be line-fit on new Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A350-900s which will be delivered from later this year, with A350-1000s to follow. These will haveVantage XL and RECARO CL3710 seats in LATAM+ and Economy. Over 150 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft used on shorter routes will also be converted.

To realise the concept, LATAM brought in London- based PriestmanGoode, which has worked with the airline on various projects over the last 10 years. Daniel Sohi, project head, explains that the new design is an evolution from earlier work, especially in the trim and finish palette in Business Class, that would be recognised by passengers.

Latam Airlines

It started as a project for the A350-1000 but was brought forward for earlier introduction on the Boeing aircraft. With the airline operating across so many countries, it was decided to look at commonalities in landscape as the key element that draws everything together, including sunsets, mountains, beaches and the rainforest.

These influences are mainly in the rear of the aircraft, the design language of Business Class drawing inspiration from and reflecting outstanding architecture, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro and the Infinity Tower in São Paulo, with sweeping curves and chamfered corners.

He says the seat is highly customised, with the introduction of those sweeping curves on the seat shell requiring a fine balance between form and function, which he feels was achieved. For example, in bed mode (it is a lie-flat seat), space has been maximised at shoulder level.

Latam Airlines

The centreline twin seat units are suitable for couples or individuals. There is no gap between the seats so it is a single unit, making it integrated into the cabin and with a premium feel. The challenge was even greater on the narrower Vantage seat, where a fixed privacy divider removed the need for a mechanism underneath, allowing for maximum bed width for the passengers.

There is a large front row monument, but Latam put the emphasis on sleep and relaxation, so custom décor foils are used in place of a brand panel.

The airline carried out simulated flights with sleep trials over a two-week period during the seat selection process, and he comments that hours were spent on pressure map testing and evaluation of foams for the seat cushions, which are produced by Franklin Products.

Latam Airlines

However, the airline will offer a mattress topper and duvet as well. Attention to detail also included the light intensity of the seat controls in bed mode and, for the 787, there is a week-long study coming up by PriestmanGoode with Boeing to determine the best cabin mood lighting colours to enhance sleep.

He also mentions that the transition of the seat was carefully studied to avoid the possibility of a passenger hitting their knee while in motion. Soft corners were also incorporated while the ottoman lid opens as far as possible, all to avoid accidental contact.

The seat lighting is a warm white and not connected to the cabin system. This includes the footwell and around the base of the seat. Dark colours on the base of the seat (to hide scuff marks) makes the seat appear to float, he says, while lighter colours in the upper seat area create a feeling of space.

Latam Airlines, cabins

The impression of the cabin becomes that of the corridor of a boutique hotel, again creating a feeling of relaxation. Much use is made of wash lighting and lit pockets, and the lights dim automatically as the seat transitions to bed mode, although this can be overridden by the passenger.

Stowage areas have been left open deliberately, to add to the feeling of space, rather than closed units that can be intrusive. A good example of evolution is the carbon fibre-backed granite from F-LIST in Austria, used on the cocktail table, with a pattern that represents veining seen in aerial photographs of the Andes mountain chain.

The seat lining takes its inspiration from the sand dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in northeastern Brazil and the new dark grey dress covers incorporate flecks of red to enhance the brand presence and add vibrancy to the cabin.

Latam Airlines

Other features are aisle access at every seat, up to an 18in Panasonic monitor, reading light and a do not disturb sign. Latam is also introducing a redesigned dining concept in Business Class, aimed at promoting and accompanying quality rest and new service protocols for cabin crew with fewer interruptions.

Latam+ and Economy share the same cabin and the Recaro CL3710 seat, the difference being increased seat pitch, greater recline, an adjustable leg rest and a leather headrest for LATAM+. The tan leather of LATAM+ seats represents sandy beaches, while the seat covers shift from a petrol blue to a blue/green, representing a shelving beach into deeper water.

Economy seats incorporate sunset colours. He says the Latam houses colours of indigo and coral have been tweaked into a deeper, richer blue and a strong, bold red. Those colours were also part of the livery of LAN andTAM respectively before they became part of LATAM, so there is a sense of continuity as well. Continuing the theme of heritage, traditional weaving techniques incorporated into the fabric for the dress covers.

For the Airbus A320/321s, Latam+ seats will have individual power outlets, while Economy gets fast-charging USB power ports.

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