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Not such a walkover

Aircraft carpeting seems like a relatively simple element of cabins, but it has an effect on many aspects of airline operations and maintenance, reports Ian Harbison

Peter Kuhn, Director, Sales at Lantal Textiles in Switzerland, says airlines have three main priorities when it comes to carpeting – lower weight, extended service life and longer replacement cycles.

Weight is becoming one of the most important factors, with various construction techniques under development as the main focus of this work. Green Sky Textiles of Erie, Pennsylvania, is using 100% post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) made from recycled plastic bottles for its carpet line, which is approximately half the weight of standard woven carpets. Tad Jakes, CEO, says that for a fleet of 100 Boeing 737-700s, the total weight reduction is about 8,450lb. Fuel savings are calculated at around $100 per pound which, with oil at $80 a barrel, gives total savings for the fleet of $845,000 a year.

The method used to fix the carpet to the floor is another way of saving weight, and Lantal has developed a totally new approach for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, using self-adhesive backings protected by peel-off films, rather than traditional methods of adhesive tape. The carpet shipsets are delivered to Boeing in up to 130 precision-cut parts; the installation work is reduced to positioning the parts, removing the protective film, and patting down. Through this innovation installation time has been reduced from 97 to less than 20 hours. At the end of the carpet lifecycle, the parts can be removed without leaving adhesive traces behind.

Lantal’s self-adhesive product was designed to suit the production processes at Boeing, and airline customers are free to make up their own mind when carpets are due for replacement. While lead customers ANA and JAL are sticking with the system, he says one airline will be running trials with various backing methods and another, about to receive its first aircraft, will revert to the usual double-adhesive tape method. He notes that carriers in low labour rate areas of the world are less concerned about the manhours required to scrape off adhesive residuals before new tapes are laid down.

Lantal has now developed a backing film with less adhesion for easier application and removal. It weighs in at around 80gsm, compared with 120gsm for the Boeing version. Typical aircraft carpet weighs around between 1,500 and 2,000gsm. Green Sky Textiles takes a slightly different approach, using adhesive tape on the floor and the carpet, but Velcro to join them, which allows multiple installations and removals for large clean-ups, or access to floor-panels during routine maintenance without the need for re-taping.

Most carpets are made from pure wool, which provides adequate durability; meets all fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) standards from the certifying authorities; and adheres to the additional requirements of electrostatics from the aircraft manufacturers. Kuhn notes that Airbus has more stringent standards than Boeing for FST and electrostatics. The latter may be because the US has a long tradition of using 100% synthetic material as it gives the greatest durability, with a well-established aftermarket involving local suppliers to the Synthetics are also prone to soiling being more apparent. A more recent development in Europe is the introduction of a synthetic fibre, such as polyamide-based nylon, typically in a 20 to 30% blend, which increases durability without the other problems. >>

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