Zodiac Aerospace (Hall 2a Stand A254) is here exhibiting its Isis cabin for single-aisle airliners, with new seats, sidewalls and luggage bins that accommodate a claimed 60 percent more bags. Although cabin equipment accounts for two thirds of its $4.4 billion revenues, the France-based company is also active in a number of aircraft systems. It has consistently taken over smaller businesses and may be considering a new, undisclosed target acquisition in the industry, CEO Olivier Zarrouati hinted early this month.
The Isis cabin’s design is part of a general trend for increasing the number of passengers and bags in a given space, without passengers feeling more cramped. Today’s passenger wants enough room to store one roller bag and Zodiac claims to have done this while actually increasing headroom.
Similarly, “with a 29-inch pitch, which has become commonplace, comfort is the same as it used to be with the previous 33-inch pitch standard,” Zarrouati told a briefing for the French association of aerospace journalists (AJPAE). This is notably due to slimmer seats, like those in the Isis cabin. All this is being achieved in a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 cabin, designed three or more decades ago.
What about even lighter seats in economy class? Expliseat a French start-up company is offering to cut seat weight down to 8.8 pounds per passenger. Zarrouati claimed his company could compete in the same weight category. But he insisted a seat design should be seen as a tradeoff between weight, comfort, price and functionality (i.e. tray tables, literature pockets etc.). The right compromise, he said, results in a 14.5- to 16.5-pound seat and Zodiac’s Dragonfly seat falls in this weight class.
Zodiac’s strategy is to identify and enter market niches where it can get itself into a top-three position. For example, acquiring UK-based Contour–now Zodiac Seats UK–in 2012 has enabled the company to take the top spot in aircraft seats, according to Zarrouati.
Outside the realm of cabin interiors, one Zodiac’s most recent acquisitions (finalized in January) of Zodiac has been New Jersey-based Innovative Power Solutions. IPS manufactures electric power generators and converters.
Asked what Zodiac’s next acquisition could be, Zarrouati only gave the criteria it should meet. “The company should be in civil aerospace, make airborne products [as opposed to ground equipment], be located in the U.S. dollar area, be profitable and bring hope for a sizable market share.” He almost excluded aerostructures, as “there is little aftersales, transportation costs are high and you often have only one customer.”