Ultra-low weight safety belts for the aircraft industry made by SCHROTH
Neheim-Arnsberg September 2016
With a new aircraft seat belt, the seat belt manufacturer SCHROTH based in Neheim proves to be innovation leader. The extremely low weight product enables airlines to realize substantial savings.
For many years, airlines have been trying to reduce the weight of aircrafts in order to save fuel which makes every gram count that doesn’t have to be moved. When projected on the numerous flights from hundreds of planes in an aircraft fleet, a weight reduction of merely 60 grams per passenger already results in a cost saving of several hundred thousand euros per airline. That is exactly what seat belt manufacturer SCHROTH is now offering to airlines.
In spring 2016, the company introduced a world first for reducing the weight of aircraft passenger seat belt systems at the Hamburg trade fair "Aircraft Interiors Expo". Together with his team, SCHROTH engineer Wilko Reinck had developed an ultra-low weight plastic bushing replacing the previous metal belt mounting ("shackle") of the passenger seat. Considering two shackles of 30 grams each per seat, the weight per seat can be reduced by roughly 60 grams.
Discussions with seat manufacturers
Intensive talks revealed that aircraft seat manufacturers are willing to adopt this new technique for new model series," said Wilko Reinck showing the plastic bushing that is attached to the seat by just placing a screw in its centre. Seat manufacturers further generate savings through the plastic bushing being cheaper in production than the previously deployed metal shackle.
Due to the fact that the seat manufacturers still need to have the system approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), it will take some time until the first plastic bushings can be mounted onto aircraft seats. As a seat belt manufacturer, SCHROTH has already been granted the required approval. Seat manufacturers require an additional EASA approval. “The first seats equipped with the new plastic bushings might already be in use by next year," stated Reinck. Due to the competition with other providers, the seat manufacturers strive to further reduce the weight of the seats. This competition might speed up the introduction into production.
New plastic bushing
With the development of the low weight passenger seat belt mounting, the 130 employees once more prove the company’s innovative potential in the aeronautical field. About six years ago,SCHROTH already launched a seat belt for aircraft passengers 60 grams lighter than the previous standard lap belt used in the civil aviation sector. “Thanks to a lighter metal latch and the revision of the seat belt strap, we were able to reduce the belt weight from 300 to 240 grams. With the seat belt mounting being another 60 grams lighter, we are now going one step further by reducing the belt system weight by a total of 120 grams," said Wilko Reinck, a qualified vehicle technology engineer. Other seat belt manufacturers have already caught up in reducing the actual weight of the belt, "but our low weight seat belt mounting is unique in the world," underlined Reinck.
Upon request of our newspaper, Wilko Reinck illustrated the significance of weight reduction in aircrafts by means of a model calculation: “Many years ago, the following principle was calculated: One kilogram less weight per aircraft seat saves USD 90 (roughly EUR 80) per aircraft per year."
Transferred to the 60 grams per seat and calculated for 170 seats in an Airbus 320, this represents a saving of 10.2 kilograms of weight per year and aircraft. Calculated for an airline with 300 aircrafts, each of which providing an average of 170 seats, the savings for the entire aircraft fleet amount to USD 275,400 (roughly EUR 250,000) per year. For major airlines with almost 1,000 aircrafts and 150,000 seats, the annual savings amount to around USD 810,000 (roughly EUR 725,000) – just by reducing the weight of the seat by only 60 grams!
Considering further savings in other areas of the aircraft, the annual savings per fleet might be able to reach the one million euro mark. “Moreover, this also benefits the environment: thanks to fuel savings, a significantly reduced amount of exhaust gas is generated,” added Reinck.