MRO Management

AIX2024: MRO Management panel calls for more focus and expertise on the cabin

A lack of skilled cabin technicians is the major challenge facing the airline sector as it strives to maintain, repair and overhaul aircraft interiors.

An expert panel put together by Aviation Business News’ specialist magazine MRO Management at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg discussed how to elevate the cabin.

Tommaso Fiorillo, business development manager of specialist Madrid-based MRO AIRE, said the biggest challenged was a lack of skilled manpower.

“There is, from my point of view, a lack of cabin technicians,” Fiorillo claimed. “Cabin has always been seen as a second division part of the aircraft.

“I think this is an issue and this is where we need to focus our attention. It’s a matter of focussing on cabin, focussing the technicians…to get confident with the cabin environment.

“For me there is a lack of interest in the cabin, which is good for a company like ours speciaised in cabin interiors, but this is the way forward to get more skilled people.”

Fiorillo added that the cabin is starting to get more attention and he urged MRO’s to open a specialist division to further raise its profile.

He said that while the larger MROs do have in-house skills due to their size there is still a lack of engineers to properly service all the aircraft flying that require cabin MRO services.

Thomas Sonigo, vice president aircraft modifications at Air France said supply chain issues and MRO capacity constraints remain a problem, but he said regulations are also stifling innovation.

He said regulators like EASA in Europe need more people and skills to enable airlines to make advances. “This is becoming a bottleneck in the industry,” he said.

“We would expect EASA to focus more on the cabin…because we still have a lot of avionics and structure experts at EASA but we are struggling on the cabin side to have enough people.”

Ioana Predonescu, head of commercial cabin solutions at Lufthansa Technik said the opportunities for the industry are centred around partnerships and working together.

“I do think the MRO industry needs to catch up, and the certification process behind it needs to catch up to the end delivery from the MRO. The industry is not there yet.”

Predonescu added it remains to be seen how the industry collaborates when it comes to sharing data and IP (intellectual property) of technologies associated with next gen aircraft.

Timothy McVea, marketing director, at Airbus said engineering data is available to third party MROs and airlines is the OEM’s data package services.

He said there is a lot of shared IP in modern aircraft and that data should be shared in order to be able to modify the aircraft.

“The vision is there, the process is there. The process could be faster and improved but it’s certainly not blocked from the OEM side.”

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