Aircraft Transitions MRO.jpg

Cabins in Transition

Complexity, cost and turnaround time mounting considerably for widebody cabin retrofits.

For all the snazzy new interior options offered on the latest generation of aircraft, the bread and butter of the cabin market for MRO providers is in refreshing the cabins of older aircraft, either for existing operators or for new leasing customers.

At a very rough estimate, around 1,000 aircraft transition between airlines occur each year, which means a considerable market for cabin work.

For narrowbodies, this work is often relatively straightforward, but the complexity, cost and turnaround time mounts considerably for widebody cabin retrofits, with demands for IFE throughout, connectivity and lie-flat seats being commonplace.

Lucas Mollan, chief technical officer for CDB Aviation, notes a trend towards higher-density, nine-abreast configurations in widebodies.

“The challenge with seeking high density is the requirement to have seat models that have been certified to minimum pitch levels of 28- and 29-inch pitch,” he tells Inside MRO, adding: “The number of such certified seat models to low pitch levels is extremely limited, hence the ability to source same on the secondhand market in any great numbers is a challenge.”

Another lessor, GECAS, notes that some seat suppliers have responded by introducing more off-the-shelf products.

“However, the complexity of the certification process, new requirements such as HIC and pressure within the supply chain have not assisted the drive to reduce lead times and cost for cabins overall,” says David Campbell, executive vice-president and chief technical officer for GECAS.   

Campbell also notes that as narrowbody aircraft are increasingly favored at larger gauges with longer ranges, demand for their interiors have changed with connectivity and IFE often requested to keep passengers happy during longer flights.

For a full analysis of the interiors market for aircraft in transition between operators, see the December Inside MRO.

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