Fitting out cabins, a major industrial challenge for French companies

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The fitting out of aircraft interiors is a growing sector. Forecasts predict that the market will increase from $16.8bn (around £13.4bn) in 2016 to more than $29bn (around £23bn) in 2021, with an average annual growth rate of around 11%.

This growth is boosted by increases in air traffic and record orders in recent years. Nearly 30,000 new commercial aircraft will have to be fitted out over the next 20 years. The market also includes retrofitting that, given the typical service life of aircraft ranging from 5 to 15 years, consists of refitting the cabin two or three times in an aircraft’s lifetime.

The IFEC segment (In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity) is not to be outdone, since it is expected to reach $5.8bn (£4.65bn) by 2020. Demand comes mainly from North America - the leading global aeronautic market - and Asia-Pacific, which is seeing its fleets increased by a many large orders.

Challenges and solutions

Passenger seating and on-board comfort are the focus of attention for airline companies, who must differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market. Optimum use of volumes and reducing the weight of fittings also form part of the challenge of reducing aircraft fuel consumption.

Faced with these challenges, many French companies are developing new products and solutions, including:

  • To resolve the balance between making the aircraft lighter and passenger comfort, companies are working with innovative materials (composites, titanium, etc.), notably for the framework and covering of seats.

  • On-board service is also receiving a great deal of attention. In the front line: manufacturers of equipment for crew members, such as trolleys or galleys. The challenge lies in using lightweight materials but also in customisation through the development of modular systems.

  • On-board comfort also involves the cabin insulation and acoustics. Solutions have been developed to reduce noise and vibrations.

  • On-board entertainment has also seen in fundamental developments. Screens have got bigger, systems use less power, but it is especially the entertainment systems that have undergone the greatest changes, offering more possibilities to passengers than ever before.

  • Significant attention is also given to fixtures and fittings for Business and First Class cabins. The design of these cabins and their fittings (seats, use of high quality materials, etc.) is part of French expertise.

Innovation, Customisation and Utility

In summary, whether in design, equipment, on-board entertainment systems or maintenance, to mention only a few flourishing sectors, the three keywords for French businesses in the aircraft interiors industry are:

  • Innovation: particularly in terms of the materials used, the major challenge being to make aircraft lighter.

  • Customisation: the solutions on offer, both in terms of comfort and in design or entertainment, make it possible to meet the needs of airlines whilst differentiating themselves from their competitors.

  • Utility: adaptable and modular systems enabling rapid installation or reorganization and optimum use of volumes.

Exhibiting together on 2 pavilions, in Hall B6 (stands 6C51, 6C61, 6C50, 6C60, 6C70 and 6D70) and in Hall B3 (stand 3C40) dedicated to IFEs, these French exhibitors represent the expertise and sheer variety and of companies in the sector:

  • AERTEC: ( Vacuum waste compactor, the first to be TSO C184-certified by the EASA and FAA

  • BORLIS: ( Flexible materials for cabin seats. The exceptional expertise of BORLIS gives it the status of Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant [Living Heritage Business] in France.

  • SMS SAS trading as COBHAM AEROSPACE COMMUNICATIONS: ( Design and production of dedicated solutions for on-board aeronautical applications on all aircraft types.

  • DAHER: ( Interior fitting out of aircraft, from laying floor coverings to installing the complete cab.

  • EQUIP AERO TECHNIQUE: ( Epoxy sandwich panels for aircraft cabins

  • INTERACTIVE MOBILITY: ( Mobile app developer for on-board entertainment.

  • RESCOLL: ( Technological innovator in the industrial usage of polymers, glued assemblies, surface treatments and material reaction to fire.

  • SELA: ( ‘Clematis Management System’: management of various systems and equipment, including lighting, video projection and wireless command keyboards.

  • TEAM PLASTIQUE: ( Specialists in customised thermoforming. The company has designed a new thermo-pressure machine to make complex aeronautical components.

  • WIN MS: ( Fault search tool for aeronautical maintenance, reducing aircraft downtime.

For more in formation, visit

BlueSky Business Aviation News | 9th March 2017 | Issue #407