Translation by Christian Girardet
In a cockpit, the seats are important as you will spend many hours on them.
Usually seats are dealt with only after the cockpit construction is over, as they are fairly large and stand in the way during the build out. Still there are cases where it would be wise to work on these early on:
- First, because of the dimensions: theoretically, the space between the pedestal and the side stick block is between 510 and 520 mm. It means one has to find seats 500 mm wide at most. What to do if the only seats available are 530 mm wide? Before building the cockpit, it would be possible to accommodate the layout for these larger seats whereas after, it will be too late…
- A320 cockpits come in different possible colors: grey, blue or brown. What if you go with grey for your cockpit color and unfortunately you find some gorgeous blue seats? Had you dealt with the seats before building the cockpit, you might have chosen a blue interior instead…
Usually home cockpit builders elect to go the car seats route. The issue then is to find seats with armrests and with the correct overall dimensions. The best solution is to get rear individual seats from cars with 3 rear seats. These are quite comfortable, usually not too wide but you will need to add the armrest coming from the front seats. As to the sliding rails, there is no single solution and you will have to make do with what you find: sometimes car sliding rails and sometimes, sliding door tracks with small rolling balls in the rails. These are really sturdy but they are expensive… To summarize, this is an area where you will have to improvise and there is no specific advice we can give you.
In this case, you have to get lucky, which was my case! Looking for something completely different on eBay, I came across these three 737 passenger seats. They happened to be located just a few miles from where I live. They had armrests, reclining backs and the upholstery was in good shape. Obviously, my cockpit is grey and these seats are blue… By chance, this color is not too harsh on the eye.
The two outside seats will do the trick and will keep their armrests. The reclining mechanisms work perfectly, and after some work with a metal saw, each individual seat looked like this:
One could chose a more sophisticated solution but I decided to make some simple 16 mm thick MDF boxes, put together with some wood reinforcements and some 5x50 TF screws. That base is fitted on some wheels, but these are not guided by the rails. Because these wheels always would end up getting askew, it is the base itself which will be guided by the rails. By leaving the wheels free to rotate 360 degrees, they end up always following perfectly and automatically the travelling base. The base is 400 mm long and the rail is 900 mm. This is not exactly as smooth as sliding doors rails would be, but as you do not spend your time adjusting your seat during a flight, this works just fine. As the wheels dig into the carpet by about 2 mm, the seat will not be moving on its own and you do not need to block it. That may change the day I install some rudder and brake pedals but I will deal with it in due time. Currently the pressure on the throttles or on the side stick is not such that the seat can move.
Right side: the wheels should be able to rotate 360 degrees
In my case, the seat backrest is quite tall and located at the rear of the base. As a result, my seats had a tendency to tilt backward if you pressed too hard on the backrests. A solution had to be found to present the backrests and the bases to tilt. There are 2 possible solutions. The first involves an L shape profile fitted in the front of the base. This L profile slides into a U shape aluminum profile as one can see as seen on the following picture:
The second solution is to put some weight in the base:
I chose to keep the armrests without upholstery:
Finally the two seats are installed in the cockpit and fitted with seatbelts!