Today, businesses need to manage resources, logistics, and efficiency across the entire cabin life cycle. That is why the design solution toward optimized ROI is a combination of low-cost production, low-weight materials, and effective maintenance strategies.
Sure, we can have composite structures that lower the weight of an airliner significantly. But if there is an increased production cost associated with the structure, it must be balanced through cost-effective production strategies.
Due to fuel costs, manufacturers are improving efficiency in critical areas to deliver a lift in profits, increase turn times, and ultimately produce a higher return-on-investment.
As a result, the aircraft interiors after-market is booming as demand for lightweight cabins is surging. Along with the need for advanced materials comes innovation in production and maintenance processes.
Let’s look at the ways to deliver ROI through aircraft interiors.
There are three primary ways to realize ROI for an interiors upgrade:
Weight savings is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Depending on the operator’s formula, usually a closely held secret, ROI is on average around $25,000 per pound, per annum, and per aircraft. This number is dependent on the price of fuel, operator fuel hedging practices, and aircraft utilization.
As the industry moves toward efficiency, advanced composite materials, such as high-performance thermoplastic polymers, are used in many areas of the airframe to help lead to the lightest possible structure. Besides, thermoplastics offer the ability to mold sub-components, which can reduce weight by eliminating fasteners.
The light-weight cabin design process is evolving as we speak. It is absolutely not enough to produce a light-weight material. It must be cost-effective in production and be resistant to wear. To this, advancements in light-weight composite materials are focused on durability and production costs.
The reduction of maintenance costs is a crucial consideration in the aircraft industry. Reducing maintenance costs by just 10 percent can have a significant impact on profits. Understanding the relationship between part durability and maintenance efficiency is critical. The strength of the aircraft interior is a significant factor in the maintenance cost.
Unfortunately, lighter-weight composite materials and sustainability do not always go hand in hand. However, new materials are coming on the market every day, through continuous innovation. Durability challenges are being overcome as new light-weight composite materials are being designed for durability.
Additionally, the rapid replacement of damaged interior parts through additive manufacturing is on the horizon. Stratasys is one of the leaders in this regard, having tested a wide variety of 3D printed composite configurations for the public record. Rapid replacement extends the life of the interior, keeping it fresh and appealing.
As the airline industry adapts to shorter build cycles and tighter budgets, additive manufacturing is soaring, and new approaches are being created every day. One such approach is a new panel fastening system developed by Harper Engineering. This method reduces labor and materials for the production of monuments, galleys, closets, and bulkheads, by over 50% while allowing for partial replacement of parts of the monument on site. The system also allows the operator to incorporate a new monument without a total refit of the interior by allowing it to be assembled piece-by-piece, onsite and overnight. In an environment where the passenger experience is a top priority and a competitive advantage, Harper Engineering has answered the mail.
Interior cabin design for business performance and ultimately, a better bottom line is a process that ties innovation, light-weight materials, and maintenance into one continuous process.
At AB Aero Partners, we lend a hand in the process. We'd be happy to hear from you.