Airline marketers and revenue managers put bottoms on aircraft seats, but somebody has to make those bottoms comfortable. Recaro Aircraft Seating is getting both busier and more capable. In addition to winning a slew of contracts for line-fit and retrofits at the Aircraft Interiors show in Hamburg, Recaro recently received Design Organization Approval (DOA) from EASA.
“The needs of passengers and airlines change during the lifecycle of an aircraft seat,” explains Mark Hiller, Recaro CEO. “Recaro is now authorized to approve modifications on the component level as well as on the aircraft level, for example for new seat covers or additional footrests.” As a result, Recaro says it can save customers money, time and coordination efforts by going through a single source. “As a provider of comprehensive solutions, we take care of services that the airlines previously had to handle themselves or even outsourced to third parties.”
Under DOA, EASA will issue supplemental type certificates (STC) after Recaro provides proof of compliance. The FAA also recognizes this STC as proof that the aircraft can fly with the newly installed seats as well as other modifications.
Recaro is doing several retrofit projects, such as additional leg rests and with new seat part numbers. Recaro does retrofits under EASA Part 145 authority at its repair station in Schwaebisch Hall in Germany. These projects include inspecting parts and seats according to component maintenance manuals and service bulletins, repair or modification of parts and seats, and certification of parts and seats with EASA Form 1. At other facilities, the company can provide on-site support with its maintenance crews for the same types of work.
“DOA activities are an integral part of project management at Recaro,” Hiller explains. DOA takes the methods for planning, tracking, reporting and risk mitigation for physical parts and applies them to project management.
The company is expanding its capacity worldwide. By the end of 2017, a new 6,000-square-meter logistics center, costing €13.5 million ($14.4 million), will open at Schwaebisch Hall. “This is just the beginning of a significant investment program in the high double-digit million euro range, targeted at meeting high market demand,” Hiller says. Recent trends confirm his confidence. In 2016, Recaro’s recently opened production site in Qingdao, China, produced 10,000 seats, twice as many as in the previous year. For 2017, a further doubling to 20,000 seats is planned and already secured through orders.
Recaro employs a staff of around 2,000 in almost 40 different nations. “Incoming order volume is high, and healthy growth is secured,” Hiller says. “More than 10% of revenue is reinvested in research and development.