SR Technics has established a successful cabin refurbishment business in the last couple of years. One of its recent customers was Swiss leisure airline Edelweiss Air. It operates nine Airbus aircraft, including one A340-300 (which joined the fleet in December 2016 after cabin modifications at SR Technics), two A330-300 and six A320s. A cabin programme on the latter formed the basis of a presentation by Oladi Olukolu, Sales Director, Aircraft Engineering Services at SR Technics.
The idea behind the modifications was to increase seating capacity to 174 by adding one row of six seats. This could be achieved in the space as the airline selected thinner Recaro 3530 seats.
In addition, the Rockwell Collins TES IFE System was completely removed and replaced by a Panasonic eXW wifi system. This involved the installation of four Wireless Access Points, an aircraft interface and a fileserver, and Panasonic carried out the EMI testing. It also provided support for the certification tests for the entire modification program.
At the rear, the conventional layout of two lavatories aft of seat row 36 and a galley across the rear wall was completely replaced. The lavatories were removed and the space used for the extra six seats as row 37. Two narrower Smart Lavatories from Zodiac Aerospace were then installed on the same position as the removed ones while the galley fits across the rear wall. The galleys were ex-SWISS and designed to ATLAS standards, and SR Technics has them recertified. At the front, a brand new ATLAS standard galley from Bucher Leichtbau was installed.
SR Technics also reworked and recertified the forward partition walls to include six stowage compartments as well as installing a centre ceiling stowage in the aft galley area.
Finally, all aircraft were fitted with the emergency floor path marking system and a movable class divider was fitted to two of the aircraft, which were ex-SWISS, to standardise them with the rest of the A320 fleet.
A number of factors had to be taken into consideration during the project. With several suppliers involved, lead times were critical, varying from six to 10 months. For two of the aircraft, the conversion was to be carried out alongside a heavy maintenance check and the input had to be carefully planned as the entire refit had to be completed before the start of the busy summer flying season. Even then, the programme shifted as the number of SBs to be embodied changed.
In the end, the first aircraft arrived in Zurich in March 2016. This required a heavy check, the cabin programme and repainting and took 30 days. The second aircraft required a heavy check and the cabin programme and so took less time. The rest arrived on a nose-to-tail basis just for cabin work, with a turnaround time of just 12 calendar days.
The main challenges before the conversions began, for Edelweiss and SR Technics, were coordination of vendors, material coordination and getting Service Bulletins on time. In fact, the lead times for ordered material from several vendors became critical and work did occasionally have to stop. In addition, unexpected problems occurred with the second aircraft during the heavy check.
This project went smoothly but it should be noted that SR Technics having performed several Engineering STCs, aircraft testing was able to use this experience to anticipate and mitigate known challenges.