Air Transport Publications
Login   |   Register
jobs Jobs
events Events
My bookmarks

Quick change

When TAP Portugal wanted to quickly reconfigure a pair of Airbus A330s, it called on Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group to run the project. The challenge was greater than either party had anticipated, but teamwork resulted in success

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (Marshall) has carried out a number of cabin conversions in recent years. In 2010, the company worked on a programme involving seven Airbus A340-300s for Iberia, followed by four A340-300s for TAP Portugal in 2012 (see Aircraft Cabin Management, April 2012).


In July 2013, TAP came back with a new project to convert two Airbus A330-200s acquired on lease from GECAS. The aircraft had been operating with TAM in Brazil with a 4F/24C/183Y configuration, but the conversion would mean adapting them to a standard TAP layout. The airline’s 12-strong A330 fleet is comprised of a mix of both 24C/239Y and 24C/244Y – following extensive investigation and research from Marshall, it was the latter configuration that was selected. The project also saw an additional requirement to install a Lower Deck Mobile Crew Rest (LDMCR) unit.


The original target was to have both aircraft in service by the end of May 2014, in order to provide extra capacity on key routes to Brazil, as well as to two new destinations – Manaus and Belem – and to support the new longhaul routes TAP launched in June 2014, such as Bogota, Colombia, and Panama City, Panama. However, this proved to be too ambitious a timescale, as such the aircraft actually returned to service in August. That being said, given the complexity of the work involved, even this was a major achievement, according to Carl Badcock, Chief Engineer, Civil Upgrades & VIP Completions at Marshall, citing that the OEM estimate would have been around 15 to 18 months.


Marshall were responsible for engineering and project managing the solution, including vendors, as well as controlling and mitigating any risk. For the latter, he says the biggest challenges were equipment lead times and getting STC approval from EASA. There was also a need to minimise both the aircraft downtime and ownership time prior to embodiment, not least because TAP would be making lease payments to GECAS.


The Initial Technical Coordination Meeting took place in early October, although work had actually already started at the beginning of September on a number of cabin integration issues. This was followed a couple of weeks later by planning for the Economy class seat, the IFE system and the LDMCR. It was at this early stage that an Advanced Bill of Materials was raised, with purchases to be approved by TAP. Some of those decisions had to be made very quickly to ensure delivery in time, Badcock says, citing both the replacement lavatory and closets from Diehl and the Lufthansa Technik GuideU photoluminescent floorpath marking system as good examples.


Marshall TAP Portugal cabin conversion Airbus A330s


Marshall TAP Portugal cabin conversion Airbus A330s

(Click the images above to see a larger view)


The entire cabin was stripped out and replacements introduced for overhead stowages, ceiling, dado panels, sidewalls, panelling, PSUs, as well as upwash and downwash lighting. Galleys and lavatories were removed and some minor maintenance was carried out, along with colour changes to match TAP branding – new branding was also applied to curtains, carpets, raceways, seat track covers and decor trims. As an indication of the level of detail involved, new baby bassinet fittings and literature pockets had to be fitted to the bulkheads.


Seats and IFE

The previous Rockwell Collins IFE system – which included overhead screens and five satellite phones for passenger use – was removed. Elsewhere, the Video Control Centre (VCC) was replaced by a forward lavatory, with the existing full height forward lavatory being replaced by under-bin narrow closets.


The new Panasonic Avionics eXLite IFE system, which included two passenger phones, also required seat back screens in all seats. This was a relatively easy job for Economy, where lightweight seats from ZIM Flugsitz were selected – although this was contingent on another carrier becoming the lead customer and obtaining an EASA Technical Standard Order (ETSO). This development allowed the seats to be deemed acceptable for direct installation in the A330s. Badcock says the process worked, but the ETSO approval was only a few weeks in advance of the TAP deadlines.


For Business class, the situation became rather more complicated, turning into the second most complex part of the entire programme. The airline’s original choice for its new seats was ruled out due to the supplier being unable to guarantee delivery in time. Instead, Marshall supported TAP in identifying the ex-Lufthansa Recaro 6510 Type 650 seats that had been removed from the airline’s Airbus A340s. The idea was to modify the seat, centre pedestal and the back shroud so that it could take Panasonic’s IFE system, replacing the existing Rockwell Collins one. This process also had to ensure that the new integrated passenger control unit (IPCU) interfaced with the existing KID Systeme seat actuation system.


As part of the development of a completely modular IFE solution, Marshall were responsible for testing and re-certifying the seats as part of their STC. With the introduction of a larger monitor in the seat back, it was soon clear that Head Impact Criteria (HIC) could become an issue. Another pragmatic decision saw the selection of AmSafe airbag lap belts as a way of mitigating any HIC testing problems. However, this still required HIC Occupant Injury Protection 16g testing. As such, the fully developed, conformed and released seats were shipped to AmSafe in Phoenix, AZ, for sled acceleration tests – which were passed successfully. Other testing included ground testing, EMI/EMC, and flammability tests (the age of the seats meant they had not been cleared to the latest EASA recommendations for part of the flammability requirements). >>

To download the PDF file for this article, you have to pay the amount by pressing the PayPal button below!

Filename: Quick change.pdf
Price: £10

Contact our team for more information!


You must be logged in to post a comment.

Please login or sign up for a free account.

Disclaimer text: The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily express the views of Air Transport Publications Ltd. or any of its publications.