TAP Airbus A330 – What the Project was about
TAP, Portugal’s flag-carrying airline, has introduced two additional Airbus A330s into its long range fleet, following a comprehensive cabin and inflight entertainment (IFE) upgrade. The project, requiring a fast-turnaround was engineered, project managed and certified by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, with TAP Maintenance and Engineering carrying out the embodiment.
The programme timescales were exceptionally tight. The Initial Technical Coordination Meeting (ITCM) was held on 4th October 2013 and both aircraft were operated by another airline until March 2014. Post modification and certification, the EASA STC was granted on 21st July and the first aircraft was released into service on 25th July 2014 by the TAP Maintenance and Engineering facility in Lisbon. The second aircraft was delivered just a few weeks later, on 18th August 2014.
The aircraft cabins were reconfigured from a three class to a two class layout. This involved removing the first class cabin – along with all seating, IFE system, Video Control Centre (VCC), forward lavatory, wardrobe and window blanks. This facilitated the introduction of a new forward Business Class cabin with forward underbin stowage units and new seating, two economy cabins with new seating, replacement Floor Path Marking System (FPMS), emergency equipment, NTF, carpet, raceways, seat track covers, decor trim and dual language placarding throughout (to suit TAP branding). Also carried out was the required Over Head Stowage Compartment (OHSC), sidewall, dado and ceiling panelling, including upwash and downwash lighting and Passenger Service Information Units (PSIUs), in addition to the resulting Cabin Assignment Module (CAM) and Cabin Intercommunication Data System (CIDS) changes.
The A330 upgrade required significant airframe structural and electrical system design work to introduce and integrate a new Lower Deck Mobile Crew Rest (LD-MCR) area and Stair House.
Another key requirement of the project was to introduce a new Panasonic eXLite IFE system; the business class seats had to be modified to accommodate this new equipment. The modification of the Business Class seat also included the installation of an Airbag Seatbelt system to mitigate and reduce the risk of any Head Impact Criteria (HIC) testing failures.
16g Head Impact Criteria (HIC) occupant injury protection test being performed
How challenges were overcome
There were many challenges to overcome throughout the programme, as coordination between a number of major suppliers, the customer and the operator of the aircraft was required. These types of challenges that integrators deal with can only be overcome by strong project management and close, open communication between all stakeholders.
Commitment to lead times, and ultimately to the end goal of returning the aircraft back into revenue service, is a key requirement for the project teams, regardless of where their position is in the chain. Without this, these types of projects become difficult to deliver. However, building a strong relationship with the end-user – be it the airline, the MRO or the vendors – ensures a safe, on-time delivery of the final product.
Business Class (B/C) Cabin post embodiment, and pre delivery
Another area that requires close coordination is the work required with the regulator, whether that’s the EASA or the FAA. The effort of the certification team is paramount to the programme as challenges can and do arise, quite rightly so, from the regulator. We must, as a holistic team, ensure aviation safety is at the forefront of our minds as well as on-time delivery of the aircraft into service.
In conclusion, a strong project management approach and close working relationships with all stakeholders, from vendors through to the regulator resulted in a challenging project taking approximately 10 months to complete, which is several months less than the industry norm.
Economy Class (Y/C) Cabin post embodiment, and pre delivery
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