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An inside job

GAL Aerospace is responding to demand in the regional aircraft cabin upgrade market. Keith Mwanalushi looks at some of the optimised solutions the company has on offer
 

The aircraft cabin upgrades market is expected to reach $8.9 billion in 2023 and interior modification and retrofits are likely to remain the most dominant application. In March, GAL Aerospace launched its solution Z to increase overhead bin capacity for regional airlines operating the Q400 aircraft with classic interiors.
The new overhead bin solution is part of an ongoing product development effort by GAL Aerospace to improve the customer experience and extend the service life of Q400 aircraft fitted with classic interiors by providing a plug and play replacement for the original, undersized bins.


GAL Aerospace sees the regional aircraft sector as a primary target for the aftermarket cabin solutions: “We feel the demand is driven by a combination of increased passenger expectations, the need for increased on-board storage to eliminate the inconvenience of gate checking carry-on luggage, and the airline challenge of service inconsistencies caused by mixing new aircraft with enhanced interiors with existing classic interiors,” says Jonathan Cornwell, Vice President, Business Development.
Over the last few years, the cabin maintenance market has benefited from a higher demand for cabin retrofits for older generation aircraft. The drop in fuel prices have made these heavy fuel use aircraft more economically viable with airlines operating the aircraft longer and extending their leases. This has consequently created a demand for cabin updates and investment. As fuel prices level out, the sector may witness a drop in demand and this work needing to be replaced.


The expectations of passengers today are high. They want to have access to some sort of inflight entertainment, even if it’s a ‘bring your own device’ system increasingly in use with long haul low cost carriers. While they may not expect as high a seating pitch in economy sections, they do expect enough overhead bins for carry-on luggage. All these expectations are pushing the market to innovate in developing new equipment, using new lightweight materials, and finding ways to quickly repair or replace parts.
Insufficient overhead bin space poses a major challenge to on-time departures, frustrates passengers and cabin crew, and causes airlines to employ inconvenient and expensive gate check or plane side services to mitigate the problem. Cornwall says GAL’s replacement overhead bin solution is specifically designed to accommodate standard roll-aboard bags, thereby eliminating the need for gate check service, and greatly improving the passengers’ overall travel experience.


Cornwall explains that the overhead bin solution for the Q400 was developed in response to an identified demand from regional airlines and aircraft leasing companies such, as their launch customer for the project, Nordic Aviation Capital.
Regarding the Q400, Cornwall says the enhanced interiors on late model and current production aircraft has created a demand for larger overhead bins capable of accommodating standard carry-on luggage. “As aircraft approach the end of their lease terms, operators and leasing companies are looking for opportunities to competitively remarket and/or operate these aircraft against or in parallel with current production aircraft,” he says.


“The Q400 is an incredibly versatile aircraft that will continue to play an important role in the regional market for many years to come. Our overhead bins and other regional aircraft interior products will enhance the customer experience, reduce the cost for the airline, and allow better service integration during fleet expansions,” added Glen Lynch, President and CEO of GAL Aerospace. “The Q400 and the previous Dash 8 family of aircraft are part of the fabric of the Canadian aerospace industry and we are proud to play a role in supporting the global operators.”
GAL’s plug and play, replacement overhead bins are now fully certified with Transport Canada, the FAA, and EASA.


In addition, GAL Aerospace has entered a collaborative relationship with Bombardier for the development and aftermarket retrofit of interiors for the existing CRJ Series fleet. As part of this relationship, GAL will collaborate with Bombardier to enable go-to-market optimised solutions in support of the in-service CRJ Series fleet.
More specifically, GAL Aerospace has received authorisation from Bombardier to supply cabin interior aftermarket support for the new CRJ550 aircraft that was recently launched.
Cornwall explains that GAL collaborates with Bombardier to address requests from existing operators wishing to update, reconfigure, or modify aircraft interiors with solutions that meet current market demands. “Our combined goal is improving customer support and enhancing the overall passenger experience. In addition, we effectively extend the life of in-service aircraft by improving the overall cabin functionality and modernising ageing interiors.”


Speaking on the full scope of works on the CRJ Series, Cornwall says the focus, starting with the new CRJ550, includes the complete line of CRJ aircraft. “The cabin interior solutions touch virtually every part of a passenger cabin including galleys, lavatories, headliners, sidewalls, overhead bins, LOPA reconfigurations, storage closets, window shades, first-class self-service bars, and LED lighting.”


In the regional sector, jets (RJs) have been the main target for cabin upgrades, but is there any significant growth and consistent demand for more turboprop cabin modifications?
Cornwall responds by saying GAL’s interest in supporting regional aircraft began with regional turboprops and continues today with the commitment to support the aftermarket for the ATR and Dash 8 families of aircraft. “Recognising the high price sensitivity, GAL is currently the industry leader for cabin solutions to these versatile aircraft. We are the fastest and most efficient provider of innovative and integrated cost-effective cabin solutions,” he states.   


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