Dropping Oil Prices Lifts Interior Cabins To New Heights

 

Photo: Delta’s recently announced 2017 “Delta Premium Select” Interior Cabin view. (Source: Delta)

Photo: Delta’s recently announced 2017 “Delta Premium Select” Interior Cabin view. (Source: Delta)

Lower oil prices are making passenger airplanes better than ever, again.

Ten years ago, the price of oil spiked as the world GDP grew by leaps and bounds in the new millennium. Airlines, in response, increased their ticket prices – but also began to find new and creative ways to drive down costs to fliers. The three delineations, first class, business and coach, became simply two classes. Extra space in coach cabins were shored up, creating greater density of passengers per plane.

Since that time, as oil prices have fallen; United States-based airlines are enjoying lower fuel prices. Foreign oil dependency has lessened, and fuel-saving technologies are being created daily. During that time, carriers from Asia and the Middle East entered the market in a big way. They separated themselves from their American counterparts by emphasizing comfort and passenger amenities. A small number of American companies adopted the trend early on, but now – as the competition for passengers and passenger loyalty increases – other airlines are finding that they must keep up with their posh competitors.

A “Golden Age” of Cabin Interiors

Photo: A look at American Airlines’ 2017 Cabin Interior (Source: Dallas News)

Photo: A look at American Airlines’ 2017 Cabin Interior (Source: Dallas News)

The fight to win the global consumer is under way, and this is an important time in passenger airline maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). With the consolidation of many airlines over the past decade, and with fuel prices down, airlines have the ability to spend time and money refitting their galleys, with slimmer seats, lavatories and storage areas. Gone are the days of a complete fleet overhaul over the course of a decade. The global passenger demands the newest innovations and services. To remain competitive, airlines must be prepared to deliver on those expectations.

Cabin interior designers aren’t only concerned with major international carriers. Low-cost carriers are jumping onboard as well, and considerably. The market has been bolstered by big players. Yet, the market is diversifying so much so that aircraft modification has surpassed engine maintenance as the fastest growing MRO segment. Some estimate the market to double in the next ten years. This growth, and demand for rapid turnaround, can only mean greater competition for hangar positions as fleets upgrade their vessels. Also, in turn, labor rates (which have been flat since the last oil price spike) and man-hours will increase exponentially.

High-Flying Amenities

Portions of the future of airline travel have already arrived: LED in-seat video screens, onboard Wi-Fi, reclining or “lie-flat” seats. Consumers and the industry have embraced this new standard of commercial flight. That demand will continue to create increased competition. Cabin interior suppliers need to supply the demands of the record numbers of new aircraft being produced, but also to provide for retrofit demands. It seems only likely that this can and will create new entrants into the PMA cabin interior market, as the OEM supply chain likely won’t be able to keep up. Whatever the outcome, commercial airlines are at the precipice of a new era, one that will benefit every passenger.

How EulessAero Is Pushing Innovation

Photo caption: Six EulessAero engineers undertake work in a manufacturing facility located in Euless, Texas.

Photo: Six EulessAero engineers undertake work in a manufacturing facility located in Euless, Texas.

The true “golden age” of cabin interiors isn’t simply amenities and gadgets; EulessAero is on the forefront of technology that benefits the airline passenger and can also add to the airline’s bottom line. For example, the 767 Window Shade includes an improved material in their production. Airlines have reported to EulessAero this small change reduces the interior temperature approximately 20 degrees, drastically changing cabin cooling costs. Likewise, the EulessAero 717 Light Bezel contains improved material in the production of the light bezels. The improved producing materials, along with a design change, improves the reliability and longevity of the part.

Innovation can be found everywhere in the EulessAero line, even in the most unlikely of places. The EulessAero 737 Lav Shroud is produced in such a way that it changes the part from a rotable to an expendable. By producing a thermoformed plastic part instead of a fiberglass one, customer’s cost is reduced with the added benefit of greatly improved reliability. The same line’s A330 Lav Cover is stainless steel cover created to protect the lavatory sanitary rolls from being splashed with water. This simple, classic-looking design reduces the number of rolls thrown away and the time expended changing them. Ingenuity in the upcoming years has the ability to both improve the passenger experience and to reduce airline costs, and business-as-usual will simply not be enough to remain competitive.

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