Lantal does testing in a variety of methods using burners like the one in Abu Dhabi
Like Europe, Nüssel said he has been impressed with the cooperation he has seen between Middle East airlines that are traditionally competitors. Jeff Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways Engineering, said the company’s capabilities in third party maintenance would be enhanced with the addition of a shop for flammability testing. “We offer industry leading aircraft maintenance and engineering solutions to customers from all over the world and for all major commercial aircraft types,” he said. “Through our partnership with Lantal, it is now easier and faster for aviation customers in the region to access world class flammability testing at our facility in Abu Dhabi.” Time is of the essence for an airline that is growing and changing interior products as often as Etihad. Wilkinson said modification with burn testing approval from any outside lab could sometimes take up to three weeks to achieve certification. “This time frame is not acceptable when the aircraft is in the hangar for maintenance and there is the opportunity to carry out a cabin modification as well (with additional activities),” he said. “Having the lab in house means that we have more control of the time it takes for certifying the modification. “The whole certification process can now be achieved within a few days.” Wilkinson estimates that in the 400-square-foot lab, Etihad will conduct up to 400 vertical burn tests and 50 full-scale seat burn tests in the course of a year. In addition, he said
Etihad Engineering has already carried out testing for operators based in the Middle East and Asia. In a given year, he said the company does 60% of its engineering and design activities for third-party operators. While flammability testing has become and important and lucrative part of its business, Lantal is primarily known as manufacturer of textiles, cushioning and cut and sew operations. Lantal’s products are found on nearly 350 airlines around the world’s aircraft cabins with seat fabric, carpeting and curtains. In addition to flammability testing, Lantal
conducts carpet wear test, peel test, abrasion resistance, electrostatic propensities, pilling, colorfastness, perspiration, dry cleaning and rubbing at the company’s plant in Switzerland. Shortly before the company opened the flammability testing plant in Abu Dhabi, Lantal set up another shop in Frankfurt, which specializes refurbishment and reconfiguration of airline seating. Currently, Nüssel said the operation has more than 10,000 seats from many of the major manufacturers. Lantal receives the seating in Frankfurt where it receives painting and dress covers and an EASA certification before it is placed in inventory. The goal of the facility, said Nüssel, is to have a place where airlines or aircraft leasing companies can quickly fill shortterm demands should an aircraft need and extra row of seating. The partnership with Lantal fits in well with Etihad’s overall strategy for growing its business. Over the past several years, the airline has taken on equity airline partners that have strengthened revenues and delivered synergy benefits, said the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan in a recent keynote address at the annual Global Airfinance Conference in Dublin. Etihad now has minority investments in six airlines.
A heat release chamber (left) and smoke emission chamber (right)
28 | PAX INTERNATIONAL | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017