Last year saw SR Technics won some important airline cabin contracts, including an agreement with leisure carrier Edelweiss Air to reconfigure six A320s and to complete Scandinavian Airlines' widebody modification work. How is 2017 progressing so far in this segment?
The Edelweiss work is ongoing at our center of excellence in Zurich and this will be the case for more of the year. We also are looking forward and can confidently take on projects of scale. Last year we began offering a range of cabin modifications along with heavy maintenance services for Boeing 777 customers following EASA Part 145 approval. There is a clear need on the market for 777 cabin work, so we are responding to customer needs.
What are the key drivers of how you approach cabin projects?
Cabins typically have a lifespan now of six to seven years. Airlines have to continuously focus on how interiors look in order to make an aircraft attractive to passengers. Whereas a VIP aircraft project would focus on the needs of making just a few people happy, commercial work takes hundreds of paying passengers into consideration. However, the principle remains the same. Our focus is primarily driven by making an aircraft as attractive as possible for the customer.
What are some of the main challenges of cabin modifications work?
It’s a special kind of challenge. There are a lot of partners involved across an extensive supply chain--from your own to those working with the aircraft operator. These projects are difficult to manage and don’t easily fit into a conventional MRO chain. If something goes wrong, the whole chain can be affected. Operating from Zurich also isn’t the cheapest of locations, but we are committed to continuing the building of our center of excellence here.
How has SR Technics remained competitive in the growing modifications segment?
Our well-earned reputation is one of quality and having an ability to deliver on time, obviously two factors crucial to being a successful MRO. Delays on cabin modifications can easily sometimes be days or even weeks, and this impacts negatively not only on the airline customer, but also on the MRO and its facility where a knock on effect can happen on other scheduled jobs. Being efficient with delivery and doing so in a way demonstrating quality can justify the price. We’ve seen returning customers justify their decision by these very reasons. Of course, we also are looking to be as efficient as possible and have focused on reducing the amount of man-hours going into each project.
Will cabin work form a big part of SR Technics’ future?
Sooner or later, I see more low-cost carriers doing more in the field of connectivity on board. Installations are becoming cheaper and are done through a more simple process. There’s a huge opportunity for them to make returns from this, more so than before. In Zurich, we are targeting 60-70% of all work to be cabin projects, and these also may be carried out with paint and maintenance jobs.