Farnborough Air Show

A350XWB Cabin Customization Process

 - July 11, 2014, 6:12 AM

As Airbus A350XWB (Xtra widebody) customers freeze aircraft interior configuration plans, the European manufacturer hopes to limit cabin furnishing options for the new twin-aisle twinjet in order to keep final-assembly lines flowing as it accelerates production rates during a steep industrial ramp-up. Working with the A350 supplier-furnished equipment (SFE) catalog, which includes seats, galleys, cabin monuments and other items, 10 A350 customers are expected to establish “head of version contractual definition freezes” this year, according to A350 program executive vice president Didier Evrard.

At least eight such freezes had been agreed to before this year; customers can sample a dedicated customer definition center (CDC) set up by Airbus in 2013 at its assembly plant near Hamburg, Germany. “[The CDC] combines the lessons learned from previous programs and will provide an efficient tool to [support production of] ten A350s/month,” said Airbus head of cabin and cargo Jorg Schuler. He concedes that Airbus needed to tighten up arrangements for SFE selection after completion of early A380 aircraft had been delayed by complicated cabin-configuration arrangements.

The CDC features a cabin “configurator,” installed in a renovated pre-World War II “heritage” hangar and able to accommodate two customers simultaneously. It provides a “one-stop shop, where customization can be completed under one roof,” said Schuler. Customers can test and compare all elements of furnishings and equipment.

The European manufacturer has added Recaro and Sogerma passenger seats to the A350 SFE catalog. Modular Recaro CL3710 economy-class seats are said to offer “maximum living space and comfort” with exceptionally low weight, while Sogerma has optimized its premium-economy Celeste cradle seat to offer a “high level of comfort at an efficient pitch.”

Airbus has learned it has to manage the catalog, because final assembly line customization could “delay you by six months,” according to marketing senior vice president Chris Emerson. A byproduct of the rationalized approach is that used-aircraft residual values may be less unstable if a more-standard cabin layout has been adopted, reducing the need for large-scale reconfiguration between operators or lessees.

The manufacturer is now emphasizing apparently increased width in the A350’s twin-aisle fuselage–thus boosting a claimed advantage over the competing Boeing 787–and confirms that the twinjet will accommodate high-efficiency 10-abreast seating.

Emerson is at pains to promote the A350’s 221-inch cabin width, which has apparently grown an inch from earlier presentations. Airbus claims 10-abreast seating–not available on previous twin-aisle models–is now possible, with the company boasting a 20-percent greater, six-inch internal advantage over the Boeing 787 cabin.