Interiors Expo changes hands but not direction or location

 - June 8, 2007, 7:37 AM

This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, the completions event held in Hamburg, Germany, for the past five years, opened to record crowds last month, and at the same time marked its last appearance under the United Kingdom International Press (UKIP) banner.

The show debuted in the French resort city of Cannes in 2000 and by the next year had already outgrown the cramped confines of the seaside exhibit center. UKIP founder and CEO Tony Robinson described the facility for the inaugural event as “a logistics nightmare” with barely 35,000 sq ft of space, low ceilings and poor lighting.

The show moved to Hamburg’s Messe exhibition center in 2003. “I expected it to grow here,” said Robinson, “but I couldn’t have predicted it would become this big.”

This year, more than 12,000 visitors attended the three-day show, held from April 17 to 19, and more than 500 exhibitors took up three exhibit halls totaling 344,445 sq ft. Hanse-Aerospace of Hamburg occupied the largest single exhibit space, with more than 9,680 sq ft, followed closely by U.S. interiors specialist B/E Aerospace and Zodiac of Issy les Moulineaux, France.

This year, for the first time, a single hall was dedicated to cabin electronics and held more than 55 exhibitors, from U.S. LCD display specialist Rosen Aviation to satellite communication giant Inmarsat.

The expo also played host this year to the first annual Crystal Cabin Awards, donated by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and sponsored by Aircraft Interiors International magazine. The awards were created to celebrate “the very best in cabin innovation and design, with six individual category awards and a single grand prize winner.” (See 'Lamera Dominates First Crystal Cabin Awards Competition' below.)

At the show’s opening general session, Airbus v-p of cabin and cargo customization Rainer von Borstel, not surprisingly, declared this year to be “the year of the A380.” He was referring, of course, to the company’s new airliner with capacity for up to 800 passengers. The twin-deck airplane is behind schedule and slated to enter service with Singapore Airlines later this year, and Airbus has already sold one to a Middle East customer for conversion to “flying palace” configuration.

Boeing chief of passenger satisfaction and revenue Klaus Brauer told the opening session audience that the order book for the Seattle company’s new 787 now exceeds 500 aircraft. Orders for the executive version are approaching 10 aircraft, and the company has sold four executive versions of the new 747-8. “On the outside, it may still look like a 747,” said Brauer, “but inside it’s a brand-new world.”

Panelists at the opening session expressed optimism that the market for aircraft interiors will remain buoyant for some time to come. According to Uwe Groning, CEO of Hanse-Aerospace, considering the fact that the typical cabin is changed out every five years, and the lifespan of an aircraft is about 20 years, the total value of outfitting the cabin of a single airplane over that 20-year period approximately equals the original cost of the airplane.

Klaus noted that higher utilization is shortening cabin life-spans, resulting in more work for interior shops.

While Lufthansa Technik chief technical officer Bernhard Conrad expressed satisfaction with his company’s innovative approach to cabin completions, he offered a word of warning. “If I have any concern,” he said, “it is the ability of suppliers to keep up with demand.”

While the Aircraft Interiors Expo continues to be primarily a showcase for commercial aircraft interiors, business aviation cabin specialist shops and vendors were well represented, with a worldwide contingent that included Aeroquest, Bell Bespoke Interiors, Burnet Interiors, BMW Group DesignworksUSA, C&D Aerospace, E-A-R Specialty Composites, Edelman Leather, Enflite, Goodrich Interiors, Hightech Finishing, Jet Aviation, Kvand, Lufthansa Technik, Nordam, Rockwell Collins Cabin Systems, Rosen Aviation, Satcom 1 and Thales, to name a few.

Robinson sold the Aircraft Interiors Expo show to Reed Exhibitions in January, and Reed will operate next year’s event, scheduled for April 1 through 3 in Hamburg. With James Reader at the helm as group exhibition director for aerospace, “visitors and vendors are likely to encounter a virtually seamless transition.” After all, noted Robinson, Reader spent 11 years at UKIP, essentially being groomed for the job.

Aircraft Interiors International magazine will remain part of UKIP but will continue to support the exposition.

Asked if there was any single achievement he felt might be attributed to the Aircraft Interiors Exposition, Robinson pointed to its role in bringing the industry together to create a global market identity. “Today, Aircraft Interiors Expo brings together cabin interior manufacturers, vendors and visitors in the biggest trade show specifically created for this industry.” ؆

Lamera Dominates First Crystal Cabin Awards Competition

At the first Crystal Cabin Awards presented last month at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2007 in Hamburg, Swedish metal structures engineering company Lamera dominated the competition.

The Goteborg-based company won first place in three of the six categories– “Environment,” “Future Concept and Industrial Design and Innovation” and
“Innovation and Technical Components”–and took home the trophy as
the overall winner.

The Volvo spinoff company was recognized for its development of Hybrix, an ultra-light (one to two millimeters) stainless “steel fiber filled micro-sandwich.” According to marketing manager Mattias Grufberg, “It looks and behaves just like a common stainless steel sheet, has the same stiffness and can be processed and formed with the same tools, but weighs half as much.”

According to judges for the competition, Lamera was a narrow winner for the overall prize. Two engineering teams from Airbus facilities in Hamburg won in the categories of “Entertainment and Communication” and “Comfort and Health” for a technology to transform a wall panel into a high-fidelity speaker and for a modern airline galley concept study. U.S. aviation supplier Weber Aircraft won the “Safety and Security” category for its energy-absorbing seat system.

A total of 82 applicants from 13 nations entered the competition. The program was created to motivate companies and research facilities to develop new products and modern designs for aircraft cabin interiors. For additional information on the 2008 Crystal Cabin Awards, contact Birgit Riege at +49 40 22701936, or e-mail