Boeing is looking to the automotive industry for inspiration with its recently announced formation of Adient Aerospace. The joint venture between Boeing and Adient, which specializes in automotive seating, will develop, manufacture and sell an aircraft seating product portfolio for both new and retrofit aircraft.
"Seats have been a persistent challenge for our customers, the industry and Boeing, and we are taking action to help address constraints in the market,” says Kevin Schemm, senior VP of supply chain management, finance and business operations and CFO for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This joint venture supports Boeing's vertical integration strategy to develop in-house capabilities and depth in key areas to offer better products, grow services and generate higher lifecycle value.”
Boeing says Adient Aerospace will benefit from the shared expertise of both companies and address the aviation industry’s need for more seating capacity and superior quality and craftsmanship.
The choice to work with Adient was due to its reputation and performance in the automotive market, supplying systems and components for more than 25 million vehicles each year across all vehicle classes, says Boeing. Citing market research as a driver for the joint venture, both companies point to forecasted growth within the commercial aircraft seating market from approximately $4.5 billion in 2017 to $6 billion by 2026.
While the timeline for the company’s initial seat production is still in the process of being scheduled, Adient says the first order of business will be developing business class seats. The joint venture’s operational headquarters, technology center and initial production plant will be located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, while the customer service center will be based in Seattle. Boeing says the staffing plan is still in development, but Adient will lead the manufacturing of new seating products and employ a majority of the staff. Meanwhile, Boeing’s personnel will primarily be in company board leadership positions—although Adient, which is the majority stakeholder in the company, will have representation on the board as well. Boeing subsidiary Aviall will exclusively perform aftermarket spare parts distribution for Adient Aerospace.