The Lantal team at the opening of the new flammability testing lab left to right: Peter Kämpfer Executive Vice President Markets, Dr. Urs Rickenbacher Chief Executive Officer, Susanne Busch (Director Test Lab), Heiko Nüssel Executive Vice President Compliance and Certification / Managing Director Lab at Abu Dhabi
capabilities by RICK LUNDSTROM
The engineering arm of Etihad Airways is working with a leading supplier of aviation textiles to create a new capability for the airline, and third party customers to meet important flammability test regulations
ar in the shadows of the sprawling building project that is Abu Dhabi Airport’s Midfield Terminal, the Emirate’s infrastructure is beefing up in small ways for a future that will place the region in the heart of commercial aviation and its constant demands for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul. In a corner of the Etihad Airways Engineering facility adjacent AUH, two partners have opened the first flammability test laboratory in the Middle East and this year will be busy testing cabin interior products for flammability, toxicity, heat release, seat cushion burn and smoke. The testing is important to airlines like Etihad, which are growing quickly and constantly modifying and changing airline cabin materials. In the past, Etihad Airways had to send materials to the labs at Lantal, the industry’s major supplier of aviation textile products, for testing at its busy flammability lab at its headquarters in Switzerland. Now, through a partnership with Lantal, testing can be done closer to home in accordance with Air Regulations FAR / CS 25.853. “We have a significant market share in
Europe and our new lab in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Etihad Airways Engineering, will now bring our service closer to our customers in the Middle East,” said Dr. Urs Rickenbacher, Chief Executive Officer at Lantal, at the opening of the new flammability lab at the end of November of last year. For Etihad, the opening of the lab will mean that one of its steady suppliers will be much closer and give the airline the ability to speed up testing projects. Already, the engineering arm of Etihad Airways operates one of the largest MRO operations in the region. Etihad Engineering offers line, light and heavy maintenance services, including: design, advanced composite repair, cabin reconfiguration, trim and finish upgrade, avionics upgrade, IFE changes, connectivity installation, component services and technical training, from its facility. Officials at the airline approached Lantal’s Heiko Nüssel two years ago, with the idea of locating some flammability-testing equipment in Abu Dhabi. In addition to being Executive Vice President Compliance and Certification at Lantal, Nüssel is also Head of Design Organization EASA.21J.392 /
GCAA DOA/174 at the Swiss company. “Etihad is one of our biggest customers,” Nüssel tells PAX International. As part of the agreements, Lantal is renting space at Etihad Engineering hangar. Lantal plans to seek out third party work from airlines in the area looking for flammability testing with short lead times. Lantal is also working with a partner company in Abu Dhabi and put a small group of employees through rigorous training in Switzerland before the opening of the lab. Nüssel says Lantal performs anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 tests per year at its facilities in Langenthal, Switzerland. Much of the work at Langenthal is related to the company’s own fabrics and carpet material, said Nüssel; however, Lantal is also certified as a third-party testing facility equipped to perform all relevant airworthiness tests for interior components. The company’s brochure lists nearly 20 customers, among them Air France, Finnair, and Etihad. Seat makers Sicma, B/E Aerospace and Recaro also use the company’s services, as well as galley equipment manufacturers like Buche Leichtbau and engineering companies like Turkish Technic.
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