Christopher Mbanefo, CEO at Yasava, details what the company is launching at EBACE 2015
What will you exhibit at EBACE 2015?
We are very excited to showcase the evolution of the Astral Design Series, featuring the new Aïana Wave. Aïana Wave will be unveiled to the public for the first time at EBACE 2015. It’s not a seat, a chair or a bed; it’s best described as a personal anti-gravitational support system. The Aïana Wave enhances the Astral Design Series, which is optimized for large-cabin ultra-long-range corporate jets. The Astral Design Series offers totally new cabin layouts, truly tailored to the lifestyle of the user.
What is exciting about the new product?
Up to now, you had to choose between a seat, sofa or bed. The Aïana Wave gives you all these options in one. It enables users to adopt postures previously not possible on an aircraft. Another unique feature is that it truly follows your body – it responds to your movements simply, without the need for electrical actuators. In many ways it epitomizes what a luxury product should be.
How does the new model build on your previous one?
Aïana 1 was a full-flat electric seat specifically designed for corporate aviation, and featured wireless seat controls. This time we asked a different set of questions. What if innovation was brought about without using electronics but using smart mechanics? What body positions might a person want or need to adopt during an 18-hour time period? How do we enable this? How do we design this to be not only functional, but seriously good-looking? A largely unused source of energy is gravity, and this is what we used as our main design driver. Using gravity while at the same time defying gravity was a really cool challenge. The result is Aïana Wave, so-named because it’s like a wave that follows your body.
How did the industry respond to your previous designs?
The response to the Astral Design Series was overwhelming and humbling. We received multiple enquiries and requests, including for Aïana 1, and it was a hard decision not to go for an immediate return on investment. While Aïana 1 still represents the current leading-edge in seat design and technology, we realized that we could further improve it by extending the Astral Design Series philosophy to the seat, which initially we had not done. We extended the development phase, resulting in the amazing Aïana Wave. It’s all part of what we call Flight Couture.
How did the partnership with Optimares come about?
We approached a number of seat manufacturers and several participated in a bid to build, test and certify the Aïana Wave seat. Optimares won the bidding process and we’re very pleased with how the relationship has developed. Optimares has an extraordinary team with a wealth of experience in commercial aircraft seats of all classes, from economy to first-class suites. We are benefitting from their technical experience, while helping them to understand the corporate aviation market, with its specific requirements.
How do your designs respond to market needs?
We strive to have a modular design system, which allows us to adapt and adopt new technologies as they become available, while meeting the overall design objective. For example, we base our design solutions on wireless CMS technology, allowing us to change and update components quickly and efficiently as they become available. For the same reason, we are moving away from fixed monitors on bulkheads in favor of newer ways to display audiovisual content in the cabin, such as Oculus Rift technology, which we are already using to enable immersive 3D views of our Astral Design Series designs. This is the direction we see the market going in, and we are right there at the leading edge.
How difficult is it to keep up with customer expectations?
We must always be honest and transparent, thus ensuring that the customer is never misled, and is aware of the given constraints.
How are technological advances influencing your designs?
The technological advances are not influencing our designs per se, given that we base our design solutions on clients’ requirements. Rather, the technological advances have changed the way we design. For example, we develop and utilize amazing 3D visualization techniques in our own design process, and also offer the clients an immersive experience of the design solution. This has changed how we communicate, to the benefit of both client and designer. We’ll demonstrate the latest developments to this 3D visualization system at EBACE.
What are you looking forward to at the show?
With the Astral Design Series and Aïana Wave, we want to demonstrate the tremendous improvements that can be made to the inflight experience now. We invite our clients to say goodbye to the design constraints of the 20th century and experience the amazing possibilities now available through the Astral Design Series with the Aïana Wave, a true 21st century solution.
A shortened version of this interview was included as part of the EBACE preview in the April 2015 issue of Business Jet Interiors International. Click here to read the full EBACE preview.