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Airbus Upgrade Services is getting involved with cabin modification programmes with TAP and easyJet, as Ian Harbison discovers

Airbus Upgrade Services offers a variety of solutions tailored to the specific needs of its customers. Airframe services include flight operations, enhanced safety, avionics upgrades, environmental awareness and aircraft role change. For interiors, services include passenger and cabin attendant seats, in-seat power system, IFE (including high speed satcoms and the replacement of CRT overhead video with new lightweight LCD displays), cabin monuments, general cabin equipment and cabin systems.



For TAP Portugal the company will provide engineering and certification for seven A330ceo and 41 A320ceo Family aircraft.


The retrofit on A330s will include new Thomson Vantage lie-flat seats in business class, and by removing a galley and a closet, one additional business class seat can be fitted. There will still be a couple of step over seats, but most will have aisle access. However, the main point of the programme is to improve the business class product as well as create the new Economy Plus, which will also feature on the A320 Family aircraft.


These will have new Recaro BL3530 seats for a flexible business/premium economy section (accounting for 40% of seats on each type), SL3510 seats for economy and a new in-seat power supply system. The A319 and A320 will each add 12 seats for a total of 144 and 174 respectively, while the A321 adds 16, taking it to 216. The business/premium economy seats will be at 33in pitch.


The subsequent 8-9% reduction in costs per available seat mile (CASM) will enable TAP to take on low-cost carriers such as easyJet, Ryanair and Vueling, according to Trey Urbahn, Chief Commercial Officer. All the seats will be fitted aft of the wing and will have a fixed back and 28in pitch. Business class will sit at 33in pitch, as will a new premium economy section, which accounts for 40% of the seats on each type.


The programme is planned to start in third quarter of 2016 for the A320 Family fleet, and in early 2017 for the A330ceo fleet. All the cabin modifications will be completed by the end of 2017, with TAP Maintenance & Engineering carrying out the work at its facilities. Meanwhile, Airbus will supply Service Bulletins, perform the engineering design, define and provide the methodology and ensure the overall integration of the retrofit components into the aircraft.


In 2018, the airline will begin to take delivery of 24 A321neos currently on order (plus 15 A320neos). The first two will be fitted with long range tanks that will enable them to reach the northeast of the US and the northeast of Brazil from Portugal. These new aircraft will be followed by full specification A321LRs, which have an additional 400nm range. These will offer a 45 to 50% reduction in trip costs and CASM less than the A330.


The contract is the latest in a series of upgrade packages that have been won by Airbus Upgrade Services. In April, it announced a contract with Malaysia Airlines to upgrade the business class cabins of 15 A330 aircraft, to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016. The new Thomson Vantage seats offer a pitch of 44in, with a width of 20in and length of 76in when fully flat. The seats come with increased working space, extra stowage space for personal items, and a 16in IFE touchscreen. A 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 seat layout means 90% of the 27 seats have direct aisle access. Also due to be completed this year is a similar programme with Oman Air to upgrade the business cabins of its A330s with the B/E Aerospace Apex suite, harmonising the airline’s cabin classes across its long range fleet. Airbus Upgrade Services has performed the overall cabin reconfiguration design, certification and is also supplying the new seats. >>

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