EAD Aerospace puts class in the cabin

 - July 28, 2009, 10:14 AM

EAD Aerospace Interiors is not one of the better known completion and refurbishment houses. Its production facility is tucked away in the village of La Bastide-de-Jordans, in the countryside not far from Toulouse and its thriving aerospace industry.

It was founded 12 years ago by three co-owners–head of design Stephane Bloc, head of airworthiness François Poinsard and CFO Alain Wehr. Unlike some centers that are constantly shaking the trees for more business, EAD now takes on two, “at most three, major executive projects a year,” said Bloc.

EAD has done thousands of smaller interior jobs since opening its doors, from systems installation to minor cabin reconfiguration. But Bloc considers the dozen or so major cabin completion jobs it has done as the singular jewels in its crown.

They include a Falcon 900 with a front-to-back art deco theme, a dazzling display of colored glass, polished metal and luxurious fabrics. There is also a private jet in which EAD technicians installed Louis XV antique furnishings, creating a look worthy of the Sun King. “And we had to do it without reducing the value of the objects,” said Bloc. The owner expected to sell the airplane one day, and the furnishings were most certainly not going to be part of the deal.

Bloc said EAD is highly selective with regard to those significant projects. “They must have a soul,” he explained, “and the design must embrace culture and taste.”

While the materials and one-off craftsmanship may be expensive, cost is not the most important consideration. “You can spend as much money as Croesus and still have an ugly cabin.” What’s more, he said, “the result must be absolutely exclusive, [and] in this respect we would never repeat something we have already done.”

“Certification is a major challenge, and precisely one of our strongest areas of expertise,” said Bloc. To this end, EAD employs some 50 engineers, technicians, designers and managers.

Bloc sees the elite market positioning of EAD emerging from a fusion of two universes–technology and art. The result is that art–paintings, sculpture, furniture of any style or any period–“is gracefully integrated into a high-tech environment.”

The company builds virtually all the interior components necessary at its own facilities, from cabinetry and soft goods to electrical harnesses. Occasionally, for some more exotic artwork, the company will go to local artisans, for which the Toulouse
area is well known. EAD then looks for a completion center that it believes is capable of doing the installation and completing the job on spec and on time.

What’s next for EAD? According to Bloc, work is under way on a cabin with a Napoleon III theme that is going to look “really, really good.”