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FACC – Cabin interiors Part 2: Aircraft cabin, what is your flight destination?

Esther Nestle
06.09.2019
1 picture
5 minutes

Where are the cabin interiors headed? Last summer, FACC AG entered into a trend-setting alliance that gave the Austrian-Chinese company direct access to the airlines. The participating companies use this newly founded platform to develop the interior standards of tomorrow.

Interview with FACC

Two complementary market channels. Sounds like a smart production system.

You said it! These two market access points fit together perfectly. FACC has a “hotline” to the OEMs, our partners to the airlines. This group of companies called AVIC Cabin Systems Ltd. is controlled by the newly founded holding company of the AVIC Group. The Chinese aircraft group AVIC has been a core shareholder of FACC for many years. Now we fully cover all areas of the aircraft cabin. With bundled expertise from the entrance area to the kitchen to the main cabin body.

Enough capability to rethink the cabin of the future?

Let’s take the topic “seats” as an example. The airlines of course have a “natural interest” in a maximum number of seats. At the same time, passengers want more space. It’s a question of finding the right balance between the needs of both sides and the optimum combination of the two.

The battle for every millimetre.

Let’s take the not so popular middle seat. How can we upgrade the B-seat? Increase comfort without losing sight of the economic efficiency of the airlines? Efficiency is a must, as well as distinction from competitors. Such concepts can only be developed, however, if the competence from all areas is also on board, and experts from the different sectors work together. Currently being discussed, for example, is the possibility of shifting the middle seats (the B-seats) slightly backwards and downwards to give the middle passenger more elbow room on the armrests. Or flexible, sliding aisle seats.

Or let’s take the overhead compartment. Many travellers want to check in less luggage, but take more hand baggage into the cabin. We are also following the trend: We develop intelligent designs that offer more space without actually consuming more space. We will achieve this goal with a more efficient design and a better layout and design of all components. Lightness and capacity must be optimized at the same time.

FACC - Luggage Space Upgrade

What part does sustainability play in your strategic considerations?

The topic is right at the top of our agenda and has been shaping FACC for 30 years with its focus on lightweight construction. To be honest, sustainability has long been a fig leaf for many, including in our industry. But you see a new sense of purpose now. There’s a whole industry out there rethinking.

But this applies not only to the actual flying in itself. What we are currently pursuing at full speed is that we have an even stronger focus on our production processes. We want to become even more resource-autonomous and rely here on sustainably produced energy. And we want to convert chemically based production procedures into biodegradable technologies. For instance, we have developed a prepreg (pre-impregnated fibres) based on sugar cane.

Airplanes are becoming lighter and lighter because the materials used are becoming lighter and lighter, the keyword being composites. This is one of our core capabilities! Lighter aircraft consume less kerosene; in this point, profit and sustainability considerations have long gone hand in hand. The winglets from our company also make a valuable contribution to fuel reduction. In this area we are one of the largest producers in the world.

The fact is: acting sustainably is an important competitive factor today. Airlines are asking about this more and more. There will be a great deal happening about this in the very near future.

The FACC cabin interior portfolio also includes aircraft maintenance. This may sound surprising.

But it fits together very well. Aftermarket services are a new business area in which we are investing a great deal. Our USP is: repair, refurbish und replace directly from the manufacturer. We are not yet working on the plane ourselves; this is what we cover through our partners. You have to be very fast in this business to get the planes back in the air as quickly as possible. Cost efficiency and sustainability both have a part to play here. Repairing is better than throwing away.

This segment is becoming more important. We are talking about a global volume of 75.5 thousand million dollars, around 15 thousand million of which will flow into the supply chain. And we want to have our market share of this.

Last year we created a dedicated business area for this with its own infrastructure. And since then we have experienced a high growth rate. The worldwide demand for tuning, repairs and refurbishment is enormous!

What will the aircraft cabin of the future look like?

entrance area A320 - aircraft cabin

Perhaps with tweendecks fitted into cargo holds, for example for families with small children? Other conceivable uses for the area below the passenger cabin include lounge or rest compartments, which would make a stay on long-haul routes more pleasant. Or perhaps bar counters in the business area? Self-service counters for snacks and drinks? From standing desks for the completion of office work to transparent side walls and digital windows. There is a whole number of exciting prospects. (WingMag tip: You can find more innovation information on aircraft cabins here: Crystal Cabin Award)

The start-up costs for the development of innovative aircraft cabins are high. But so are the expectations. In the end, the market will decide what catches on.

We are very excited! Thank you for the interview.

(*) Our interview partner: Andreas Perotti has been Head of Marketing & Communications at FACC AG for two years. The law graduate and political scientist is enthusiastic about the dynamics in the aerospace industry, its variety of topics, which he presents to the public, and is not afraid to break out of the usual communication patterns.

Click here for the image video Avic Cabin Systems:

Pictures © FACC

by Esther Nestle

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