James Thompson (designer)

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Not to be confused with Jim Thompson (designer), a silk producer.

James Thompson (born 1966 in Newry, Northern Ireland) is a Northern Irish patent holder known for his innovative research and development in airline seating. Thompson holds over twenty patents, most of which have been brought into production. He is best known for his staggered seating design which increases comfort and aircraft capacity.


Thompson lives in the small coastal town of Kilkeel in County Down. He is founder of Thompson Aero Seating (formerly Thompson Solutions), which specialises in the design and engineering of aircraft seating.[1][2] He retired in March 2014 after selling all his shares in Thompson Aero Seating.


In 2003 Thompson began developing a lie flat business class seat called Vantage which is a fully horizontal flat bed. This design offers no loss of seats compared to the old "lie flat at an angle" style seating. The seating layout, also known as the Thompson Vantage configuration, is staggered, row by row, and implements a wide console which is the footwell for the passenger behind.

In February 2008, Delta Air Lines announced that they would be installing the Vantage sleeper suite product designed by Thompson on their 767-400ER aircraft, engineered and manufactured by Contour Premium Aircraft Seating[3] in a multi-million pound deal with Thompson Aero Seating.[2] Delta later announced that they would also install the Vantage on their 767-300ER fleet, which is scheduled for completion in 2013. More recently Thompson Aero Seating secured deals for the Vantage seat with some of the world's largest airlines on various aircraft types, including Qantas (A330), American Airlines (B767), Air Canada (B777) and Etihad Airways.

Thompson's long-awaited Cozy Suite has passed its 16G H.I.C. Development Test and after having conducted a number of customer comfort trials, Cozy Suite has been ready to enter service in 2011 although no airlines have purchased the seat to date leading to the company ceasing development of the seat type.[4] The Cozy Suite economy seat offers a distinct horizontally stepped seating layout which eases egress, provides a shoulder width as wide as business class, a dedicated sleeping area and more legroom.[5]

In March 2014 Thompson sold all his shares in Thompson Aero Seating and left the company. His shares were purchased by co-owner Sam Rusk.

Thompson Aero Seating customers[edit]

Customers of Thompson Aero Seating, all of which have bought the Vantage business class seat, include Contour Premium Aircraft Seating,[6] as well as All Nippon Airways, Delta Air Lines, Swiss International Air Lines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Edelweiss Air, Air Canada, Air Astana, Qantas, Finnair, Oman Air, Malaysia Airlines, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Aer Lingus, Philippine Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.[6]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Kilkeel company sees innovative seat idea 'take off'". 4ni.co.uk. 2004-01-16. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Airline Deal For Kilkeel High Flyers". 4ni.co.uk. 2008-02-05. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  3. ^ "Delta Invites BusinessElite Customers to Relax in Its New Full-Flat Bed Seat on International Boeing 767-400 Flights Beginning Spring 2009". Delta Air Lines. 2008-02-05. Archived from the original on 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  4. ^ Cozy Suite ready to fly in 2011
  5. ^ Cozy Suite Archived 2010-08-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b "Consultancy". Thompson Solutions. Archived from the original on 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 

Thompson to invest £5.2M http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/10432752.stm

External links[edit]