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Care in the cabin

Airliner cabin maintenance requirements have changed considerably over the past couple of decades, perhaps not so much in the work required as in the way it is scheduled and even prevented, as Paul E Eden finds out

Larger, deeper, more accessible overhead bins are improving the passenger experience, holding multiple roller bags and helping relieve the pressures on cabin storage space. Delighted customers carrying-on and stowing this proliferation of roller bags inevitably takes a toll on cabin fixings and surfaces, with knocks and scrapes in heavily used areas quickly accumulating, leaving cabins looking tired and grubby.

The results of roller bag and trolley impacts are therefore common interior MRO issues, as Keith Purslow, Head of Design at Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited, notes: “The most typical damage in passenger cabins is scuffs and scrapes to hat-bin doors and compartments, and punctures in the cabin sidewall panels. We usually repair them using standard OEM procedures.”

MAEL’s interiors work goes beyond minor repairs of course, as Purslow explains: “We perform general cabin interior maintenance, predominantly ‘on-condition’ replacement, and we see high-wear carpet areas regularly called up for replacement during maintenance – typically every three months. Otherwise, ad hocand/or repair work is always a consideration, depending on the item in question. For the most part we carry out repairs using CMM [component maintenance manual] approved procedures.”

Wider cabin refurbishment and refit work also falls within MAEL’s capabilities generally carried out, according to Purslow, using aircraft maintenance manual (AMM), CMM or structural repair manual (SRM) procedures unless otherwise directed by a local modification. “Such work might involve a simple change, such as restoring the original paint finish to a hat bin, or replacing monument laminates,” he says. Wear and minor damage are therefore the bread-andbutter of MAEL’s cabin work, but what of more unusual issues? “On one occasion we saw significant disbonding of the galley floor mounts. Water ingress into the composite material within which the galley feet were installed had caused the issue, and a significant repair process had to be drawn up to rectify it.”

Some of MAEL’s interior work is also delivered through Boeing’s Fleet Care (previously GoldCare) programme, and although Purslow says it mostly involves familiar on-condition tasks, “Monarch Design Services has applied modifications to ease general cabin maintenance, including alternative passenger cabin carpet installations.”

Made to measure

Comprehensive refitting, changing the cabin way beyond the effects of repair work and general maintenance, has become commonplace as airlines reequip with new inflight entertainment and connectivity options and, at least in older cabins, LED lighting systems. The market has also come to expect regular cabin refurbishment, especially in business class, where customers demand the latest enhancements and airlines feel obliged to supply them simply to keep up. Changes between operators as aircraft return from lease may also present the opportunity for significant change, and the airframe OEMs work hard to ensure their latest products will not only be easy to maintain in service, but also simple to rework in a few years’ time, when they begin changing operator.

Embraer has designed the interiors of its new E2 line with all these considerations in mind, while offering maximum customer flexibility. Johann Bordais, President and Chief Executive Officer at Embraer Services and Support explains the philosophy: “The E2 offers several customer-chosen cabin configurations, with the supplier defined by Embraer. The entire aircraft is equipped with attachment points, harnesses and interface connections prepared for all the available options.

“Our goal is to increase personal passenger space and stowage for carry-on luggage, but we’ve also created a new concept of modularity, providing more flexibility for different business models. We’ve effectively created the E2 to satisfy three basic requirements.

“First is maintenance. The aircraft has been designed for ease of systems access, our concept for easily installed and removed panels being the primary requirement during development. Secondly, it’s about the robustness and durability of the cabin elements. The E2 interior has been developed to maintain performance even under intense operating conditions. Thirdly, we focused on the modularity, providing customers the capability to configure and reconfigure their E2 interiors.” >>


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