Metropolregion Hamburg

Aircraft Seat Rails

Cabins and Cabin SystemsEco-EfficiencyLeading-Edge Cluster Competition

Bishop GmbH has shrunk aircraft seat rails to 1 centimetre and tested new concepts made of aluminum and CFRPs. The result: the rails are lighter, more flexible, and stable.

Almost every German-made luxury car is equipped with automatically adjustable seats that move on well-thought-out rail systems. But the seating rails in current aircraft, surprisingly, are still based on the same technology as the Douglas aircraft from the 1930s.

Bishop GmbH wants to change this, with an innovative, optimised seating rail system. For the aircraft seat rail is of undeniably great significance. Not only does it ensure that passenger seats are reliably anchored, it also makes sure that galley structures and other fittings remain in place, even during turbulence. Seat rails in commercial aircraft are both part of the primary structure of the fuselage and a fixing element for cabin fitting, making them a significant interface.

First, Bishop tested the complete spectrum of current aircraft seat rails and developed concepts to improve the seat rail system. Examples include the reduction of grid dimensions, weight and production costs. Bishop reduced the grid from 1 inch (2.54 centimetres) to 1 centimetre. This doesn’t just look better. Airlines can also reduce weight and thus save fuel whilst benefitting from simpler and more precise seat positioning. They can also fit more rows of seats, or create more room. And thanks to the “one screw only” design there is less assembly and installation work involved, which reduces the production and maintenance costs.

A total of three concepts are being tested: two aluminum seat rails and one made of composite materials. The results so far: the metal seat rails can produce a weight reduction of between 15 and 61 kilograms in single-aisle aircraft, whilst the CFRP floor-panel concept can save up to 50 kilograms.

The findings are also implemented in software tools. This is designed to make it possible for construction engineers to rapidly calculate the flight and crash loads of new cabin configurations.


Peter Bishop,, +49 [0]40-866 258 10
Frank Nußbäumer (TL),, +49 [0]40-866 258 10


Bishop GmbH Aeronautical Engnieers

Sponsored by

Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the Leading-Edge Cluster strategy