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Recovery position

Following a difficult stretch, MAC Interiors is getting back into the market, under new ownership. Ian Harbison visited its facility near London-Gatwick to check on its progress
 

Despite a track record of 50 years in the aviation interiors business, MAC Interiors fell on hard times in 2013, when it was still trading as MacCarthy Aviation Holdings. It was acquired by Berwick Industries, which changed the company’s name to MAC Interiors, but a subsequent lack of investment led to a decline in quality, as well as in delivery performance, almost resulting in a second bankruptcy in 2015.


Estonia-based Magnetic MRO stepped in and took over in February 2016, as it was looking for new business opportunities that would allow it to expand its product portfolio. Particularly attractive was the company’s EASA Part 21J design, Part 21G production and Part 145 maintenance certificates. As OEM data for interiors is hard to come by and is often very expensive to acquire, lease transfers, usually involving a cabin reconfiguration, are an important part of the MRO workload, and OEM data for interiors is hard to come by and often very expensive to acquire. There was also ownership of STC rights to a number of completed aircraft interior designs that could be applied to future projects. Finally, despite the problems, there was a pipeline of ongoing contracts with Tier A customers, such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as well as with OEMs such as Airbus. Some of those projects involved widebody aircraft, which was a new market for Magnetic MRO.


Andrius Norkevičius, Managing Director, says the plan is to develop MAC Interiors into a one stop independent interiors centre for airlines, asset owners, and OEMs, working independently, as well as alongside the new parent.


As part of that plan, the first year has seen a move to a new 1,811m² facility just metres away from the original building in a business park in Salfords, 5km north of Gatwick Airport. With extra space and some interior reconstruction, the production area has been improved by creating separate zones for machine shops, repair shops, soft trim and composites, and clean zones for assembly and inspection. A new barcode scanning system optimises the production flow between manufacturing, inspection and stores. He adds that new paint and powder coating machinery will be added in the very near future.


There has also been an investment in people, as well as in marketing, production, quality assurance, stores and supply chain management. The return of a former chief designer is more than an increase in capability, Norkevičius says it is a vote of confidence.

 

Quality is back to previous levels, and should improve further when ISO 9001 Quality Management approval is received shortly. The company achieved this in a year, despite the turmoil of change. The approval will also expand the scope of products it can offer to Airbus as regards monuments and stowages; it is currently restricted to A380 literature pockets and magazine racks.


Geoff Cowper, Head of Sales, says delivery has bounced back, with one seat supplier having awarded the company with two gold and one silver monthly performance awards in the last quarter. This helps enormously with an active campaign designed to reach out to old customers who were let down by the company in the past.


A good example of working with the parent was in the reconfiguration of an Airbus A320. The aircraft had been purchased by Magnetic MRO and then sold on to another operator. The heavy maintenance check was carried out in the Tallinn hangar, while MAC Interiors worked on the monuments, dividers, wind screen, overhead bins (including PSU adjustments), seats, carpets and curtains. >>

 


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