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Making the grade

Lufthansa Technik Philippines is helping the flag carrier achieve its ambition of becoming a 5-Star Airline

When Philippine Airlines (PAL) decided to become a Skytrax 5-Star Airline (it is currently 3-Star), it introduced Boeing 777-300ERs with a new cabin and IFE system. It has just taken delivery of its tenth aircraft and can now start to retire older ex-Iberia Airbus A340s. These had been fitted with new seat covers and carpets by Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP), which has developed a good cabin capability over the years, including work for Qantas and the parent airline. To further the Skytrax cause, PAL decided to refit eight of its Airbus A330-300s with a brand-new interior and called on its principal maintenance provider, LTP, to carry out the installation work.

LTP completed its first cabin modification for PAL on June 2017, with the last aircraft due in February 2018. Four of the aircraft had their cabin modification work carried out during scheduled C checks and four are stand-alone visits for cabin work. The campaign is part of a three-year base maintenance contract signed between LTP and PAL this year. According to Rainer Janke, Vice President Marketing & Sales at LTP, the modifications were all carried out under an Airbus SB, while PAL covered supply chain management.

Refitting the Airbus A330s involved changing the layout from an all economy to a three class layout: 18 Thompson Vantage XL seats in Business class (1+2+1, plus two singles); 24 Zodiac US 5810 Series seats for Premium Economy (four triples and two outer rows of three doubles); and 267 Zodiac FR 5751 Series seats for Economy (2+4+2 through most of the cabin, 2+3+2 towards the rear).

The Vantage XL seats, all with direct aisle access, convert to a fully flat 78in bed with a seat/bed width of 23in, and include an adjustable air cushion system by Lantal with massage function. There is a four-way headrest and the fabric seat cover has an extra layer of padding for enhanced comfort. This applies throughout the aircraft. The inside of the seat shell is padded for noise absorption. A large 18.5in monitor, individual reading light, a shelf for small items with an adjustable mood light, AC power and a USB port complete the amenities.

The US 5810 Series seats are at 38in pitch, with a 19.55in seat width and 8in recline. There is a four-way headrest and leg rest and foot support. There is a wide centre cocktail table as well as a personal pull-out mini table. Two dedicated pockets provide storage for small personal items. A 13.3in touch screen monitor is fitted, along with AC power and a USB port at every seat.

The FR 5751 Series seats are at 32in pitch, with an 8in seat width and 6in recline, the seat bottom cushion moving forward when reclining for enhanced comfort. There is a 10.1in touch screen monitor and a USB port at every seat.

A lavatory and galley were added at Door 2 and a RAVE IFE system was installed, which is branded as myPAL eSuite, along with myPAL wifi.


At Lufthansa Technik Philippines, the actual maintenance check on PAL’s A330s progressed well. Contracted TAT was only 28 days for the base maintenance check plus the cabin modification and 23 days for a stand-alone cabin modification. The timely availability of modification kits was essential to ensure a smooth layover. However, while there were challenges with these, LTP was quick to adapt by proposing solutions and being flexible with the different situations and requirements arising from each layover.  

Among the advantages of being a large MRO facility is the range of in-house capability and expertise that can be called upon in such situations. Some of the parts that were not available on time were fabricated locally, such as triangle brackets, handrails and floor panels. These were implemented with approvals from concerned OEMs and airworthiness authorities.

Janke adds that in the end, PAL was very satisfied with the proactive way LTP handled these challenges and supported their programme of achieving a 5-Star rating from Skytrax. The airline has been receiving positive reviews from its passengers who have flown on the A330s and were delighted with the new IFE screens and the uniquely Philippine textures and designs of its cabin.

Daniel Baron of Tokyo-based Lift Strategic Design designed PAL’s new cabin. The A330s are now serving Hong Kong, Honolulu, Melbourne, Osaka, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo (Haneda and Narita).

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