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Virgin Atlantic: How new 737 seats performed in ‘critical destruction test’ – ‘Severe!’ | Travel News | Travel

In 2013, Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson announced a pre-tax loss of £51million. As a result, the company immediately started planning ways to cut back costs, including scrapping long-haul flights to Sydney, Tokyo, Mumbai, Vancouver and Cape Town. However, it also introduced the state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner, in a bid to keep up with competition and cut fuel expenses too. 

The new plane was unveiled during ITV’s “Virgin Atlantic: Up In The Air” series, where the show took viewers through each step of the production, including testing the new upper-class seats. 

The narrator explained in 2015: “From Virgin’s Dreamliner team, Andy Haines is overseeing the final safety tests of the upper-class seat. 

“From cattle to club class, commercial airline seats must pass this critical test before they are deemed fit to fly.

“This upper-class seat has been two years in the making.

“Fail today’s test and the delivery of the Dreamliner gets delayed.”

Mr Haines, who is a Programme Manager for the company, explained the test the new seats would be put through. 

He detailed: “This is the destruction test for the crash [situation] – it’s a really severe test. 

“It simulates about 16 G’s – which would hurt – but it’s a survivable crash. 

“Hopefully passengers can get off quite safely.

“You have to load the seats up as if real people are in them, but obviously it’s not a great idea to put real people through this test.

“Normally it’s quite obvious if it [if it fails], a failure can be quite catastrophic.”

A crash dummy was then pelted at a rate of knots along the production rail, before coming to a halt – simulating a crash.

The team quickly scurried over to take a look and the dummy appeared displaced, but untouched.

After a brief spell of silence, Mr Haines exclaimed: “Yeah, happy – it looks really good.

“He [the dummy] has had a bad experience, though.”

It was revealed during the same series how the new jet also features airbags in its seatbelts – an uncommon feature on most economy flights.

He said: “They have airbags, which we think is very important for our upper-class passengers.” 

Asked if they are only for premium passengers, he added: “On some aircrafts premium and economy get them as well. 

“There’s 31 of these, so that’s over four million pounds on seats. 

“That doesn’t include in-flight entertainment systems too.” 

Airbags are becoming an increasingly popular option for airlines, since they were introduced in 2011. 

Unlike in cars, they are built into the seatbelt, which just appears to look like some extra padding. 

This is a cost-effective way for airlines to meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) requirement that, as of October 2009, all seats on new aeroplanes must be able to withstand stresses and impacts of up to 16 times the force of gravity. 

They are used for upper-class passengers in pod-like seats as they do not have the cushioning that economy seat in front would provide. 

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