Aircraft Interiors – industry development summary: May/Jun-2024


This regular CAPA - Centre for Aviation report provides a summary of major developments in the aircraft interiors sector, supported by data from the CAPA - Centre for Aviation Aircraft Interiors Database and CAPA - Centre for Aviation News.

This edition covers May-2024 and Jun-2024 and features:

  • Region Focus: Middle East;
  • Highlights from the 2024 Airline Interiors Expo: IFEC transformation continues gaining ground and new narrowbody standards;

  • Latest global interior updates.
  • This edition covers May-2024 and Jun-2024.
  • Region Focus: Middle East.
  • Highlights from the 2024 Airline Interiors Expo: IFEC transformation continues gaining ground, and new narrowbody standards.
  • Latest global interior updates.

Region Focus: Middle East

The Middle East has long enjoyed the spotlight in the interiors space. Although the region may not always be the pioneer, its every move attracts global attention.

In the latest edition of CAPA - Centre for Aviation's interiors development summary, we take a deeper look at various interiors activities occurring in the region.

In the seats space, Emirates Airline has continued to gain attention with its retrofit project.

The plan can only be described as 'mammoth', both in terms of scale and speed. Recently expanded to cover 191 aircraft, the project entails seat reupholstering, adding premium economy cabins, and the introduction of direct aisle access business class onboard the Boeing 777.

Although the Dubai-based airline is often among the first mentioned in any discussion of premium airlines, it has actually lagged its peers in certain areas.

Emirates' premium economy product entered the market at a time when 40% of passenger widebodies in service globally already offered the cabin type.

Percentage share of premium economy seat manufacturer on global in-service passenger widebodies (dark blue denotes lack of premium economy), 2015-2024

The airline's recent decision to introduce 1-2-1 business class on the 777 can also be seen as playing catch up. Approximately half of the thousand-plus passenger 777s in service around the world offer a direct aisle access product.

Emirates will have its first 1-2-1 Boeing 777 business class entering service on 11-Aug-2024 - it should be mentioned that, while this target date is unlikely to slip, the overall project has faced various delivery setbacks.

When the retrofit project was first announced in 2022, Emirates had ambitions to "completely retrofit four … aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over two years" with full fleet completion by Apr-2025.

It's now been almost two years since that announcement.

Let's check on Emirates' progress by checking the share of Emirates fleet with premium economy.

Percentage share of premium economy seat manufacturer on Emirates in-service passenger fleet (dark blue denotes lack of premium economy), 2015-2024

With the coverage rate just over 10%, it's hard to imagine the airline wrapping everything up by Apr-2025.

This by no means indicates that Emirates is at fault, as hiccups with the global supply chains continue to challenge every corner of the aviation industry. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating case of expectations being far from the reality.

flydubai is another Dubai-based airline that has had to walk back from dates announced in press releases.

The airline has introduced a host of business class products over the years: first with the lie-flat Thompson Vantage in 2017, the HAECO (now ZIM) Eclipse recliners in 2022 and, in mid-2023, plans to add Safran Vue direct aisle access lie-flat seats.

The Safran Vue seats were due to debut before the end of 2023 but now, in mid-2024, there is still no sign that the product has entered service.

It is unclear whether Boeing or Safran is causing the delivery challenges.

It is also a possibility that flydubai has chosen to scrap the plan completely. The airline made a curious choice to replace Geven Comoda seats with Thompson Vantage seats for its 737-800 retrofit project, rather than opting for the latest Safran Vue or similar category Eclipse recliners.

Percentage share of business class seat model on flydubai fleet in service (grey denotes lack of business class), 2015-2024

This is not flydubai's first out-of-the-ordinary interiors decision.

The airline was forced to come up with in-house solutions when the 737NG IFE provider Lumexis exited the business in 2016. The airline did eventually rip out the FTTS screens and opted for streaming entertainment instead. However, in the latest twist, seatback IFE is returning to the 737NGs with the Safran RAVE retrofit.

flydubai also chose to give up on inflight connectivity, first by not opting for installation on the 737 MAX, then by removing the Anuvu systems altogether on the 737NG. It is as yet undecided whether a fleet-wide IFC provider will be chosen when the airline receives its first Boeing 787.

Looking beyond Dubai, other airlines in the region are also making major interiors decisions.

Around the time of the Aircraft Interiors Exposition (AIX) 2024, there was a flurry of announcements from Middle Eastern airlines.

Etihad Airways joined the business-plus trend when it announced its own version for future A321LRs.

Acro secured flyadeal and Pegasus Airlines as new customers for its latest Series 9 seats.

Other airlines are showering love on vendors from their home nations. Flynas teamed up with SkyFive Arabia to introduce ATG connectivity in Saudi Arabia. Turkish Airlines' LCC subsidiary AJet signed to become a launch customer of TCI Aircraft Interiors' IFC solutions.

There was also a series of defects: Jazeera Airways chose the Expliseat TiSeat E2, marking an upset for ZIM Group; Qatar Airways' fleet-wide deal with Starlink is certainly not good news for Viasat; AirFi was no doubt displeased with Air Arabia's decision to switch to Panasonic eXW wireless IFE solutions across its fleet.

AIX 2024 Highlight 1 - IFEC Transformation Continues Gaining Ground

The Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) is recognised as a key marketplace for airlines and the supply chain to meet.

Weight has always been at the forefront of interiors development. With rising fuel costs and a growing shift to sustainable practices, the need to both innovate at the same time as lowering mass has never been more important.

This has driven the wide success of the Panasonic Astrova systems at AIX.

At AIX 2024, EVA Air and Air Canada joined the already long list of Astrova clients, including Qatar Airways, United Airlines, Saudia, EgyptAir, Icelandair, Qantas Airways and Lufthansa, among others.

In an interview with Runway Girl Network, Panasonic Avionics VP of product development Andy Masson stated: "This system is 30% lighter than eX3, per seat [and that] includes the seat box, the harness to the monitor itself, and then the monitor itself".

Astrova also shines in modularity. Mr Masson highlights how Astrova's removable peripheral bar allows fast swapping to enable new standards "that may change or evolve over time".

Astrova's latest application, 'MAYA', sees Panasonic and Collins Aerospace embed a curved screen into a Collins suite while offering a host of advanced features.

While Panasonic has been focusing on hardware innovation, fellow IFE peers are concentrating on what the cloud enables.

Safran's new RAVE Cloud is expected to drastically decrease the time needed to update IFE content. Thales unveiled FlytEDGE, with major new benefits such as instant streaming of content from subscription platforms.

Percentage share of IFE manufacturer for global in-service passenger widebodies (grey denotes lack of IFE), 2015-2024

Another trend that has been reinforced at AIX 2024 is the rise of LEO and multi-orbit IFC strategies. This topic has been extensively covered in previous CAPA - Centre for Aviation interiors development summaries.

Major signings included Qatar Airways' Starlink deal and Japan Airlines becoming the latest Intelsat ESA customer. Panasonic is also attempting a breakthrough in the space, expecting its multi-orbit solution to soon be added as a Boeing linefit option.

AIX 2024 Highlight 2 - New Narrowbody Standards

At AIX Collins Aerospace announced its new 'Helix' platform. This is a seat that is destined to succeed even before its entry into service.

Looking at narrowbodies delivered over the past 10 years, two Collins platforms dominate.

In the first place is the Pinnacle seat, followed closely by its successor, Meridian. It is sensible to believe that Helix will follow the pathway of its Collins siblings.

Percentage share of economy class seat model on in-service passenger narrowbodies delivered over the past decade

The biggest selling point of the seat? Weight.

When introduced in the late 2000's, the Pinnacle platform was described as weighing 12kg. Meridian brought this down to 9kg when it debuted in 2015. This time, Helix can shave a further 0.5kg, to bring the figure down to 8.5kg.

Collins also made inroads in seat structure to ensure ample legroom, even when installed with a narrower seat pitch. On a related note, Helix is expected to enable the next generation of Collins device holders, this time supporting landscape mode.

Another lightweight seat grabbing headline at AIX was the new Air France Embraer E190 Expliseat TiSeat 2 X seats.

The new seat impresses in many ways, including an industry-leading lightweight design, alongside various thoughtfully developed features. Also interesting was Air France's decision to stick to a USB-only solution.

While the new E190 seats aren't the first at Air France to only feature USB ports, coupled with other news from the continent, it does seem to suggest a bigger trend at play.

In May-2024, when British Airways put into service its first aircraft featuring new narrowbody seat products, one major difference was the decision to forego AC power sockets and go with USB-A/C only.

Croatia Airlines also opted to install only USB-A/C when it unveiled interiors for its upcoming A220s. KLM has already announced that its upcoming A320neo family aircraft will feature only USB ports.

This approach differs materially from that of airlines 'across the pond'. A vast majority of the biggest US airlines, with Southwest Airlines a notable exception, offer both USB and AC options. It is so far undecided whether geographical interiors differences will diverge - 'à la Eurobusiness'.

Other latest global interior news


  • ATR selects Geven ETEREA for its new HighLine all-business cabins.
  • Gilat acquires Stellar Blu Solutions.
  • Mirus Aircraft Seating launches Hawk LR for long range.
  • Recaro renames product portfolio with new seat naming strategy.
  • ZIM Group presents new premium models: ZIM ZP range and ZP450.

Asia, Africa and Middle East



This article was written on 03-Jul-2024.

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