Al Lawson’s Passenger Seating Patent and New Airbus Stacked Seating

Airbus made news recently with the announcement of a new patented “stacked” seating arrangement, involving two seating levels within one cabin. Here’s one of the drawings from their U.S. Patent application.

I don’t believe that Airbus is claiming that the concept is new–it’s been in continuous use in trains and buses for over eighty years. So I’m unsure about what exactly it is that they are patenting.

Alfred W. Lawson, the subject of my book Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines, patented the same concept in 1925, and claimed it could be applied in buses, trains, and airplanes.

In fact, in 1926 Lawson began construction of his Superairliner, which included the double tier passenger seating:


The similarity in the patents could be dismissed as coincidental…if not for a fact that is tucked away in my research correspondence. About 10 years ago, I exchanged emails with a high-ranking Airbus Cabin Interiors manager, who not only knew about Lawson, but had discovered some previously unpublished images of the SuperAirliner under construction in, of all places, a Paris bookseller’s stall. So, when I saw the recent Airbus announcement, I had to smile: Alfred W. Lawson is still influencing the aviation industry!

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