The aircraft interiors industry is facing crisis unless there is a greater sudden influx of engineers and skilled labour joining the supply chain.

One of the world’s major completions houses is at Hamburg not promoting its capabilities but instead recruiting engineers to fend off a potential crisis it has predicted in the completions industry.

Outfitting centres have been hard pushed to meet demand over the last couple of years as the industry expands exponentially and engineers are in increasingly short supply.  Zurich-based Jet Aviation says it needs to promote recruitment to meet the demands for skilled labour as it grows its VVIP worldwide operation.
The luxury interiors demanded by this market include materials that have to be worked with extreme care and precision by staff endowed with old-fashioned craft skills. Where does the company find them?

“We have an advantage in being located close to where Switzerland, France and Germany meet,” says general manager Norbert Marx  “Alsace in particular is well supplied with good craftsmen,” says Marx. “But we’re still under pressure – in the last 18 months we have hired 500 craftspeople, and I expect to have to go on adding capacity for another a year.

Local industry giant Lufthansa Technic is facing similar threats. Speaking at the opening day’s press conference the company’s chief technology officer Bernhard Conrad said the company was a major employer but finding it increasingly difficult to meet the demand. Heiko Bohlens from the company’s subsidiary Lufthansa Technick Training said the company was taking the right steps. “We have been working with the German Air Force to train already skilled people for when they leave the service. We have also been putting on introductory courses to explain why a career in engineering is of value.”

The company also outsources some of its work to Gehr Interiors, which started life as yacht outfitters. President Reiner Gehr explains that the company moved into the aircraft industry because of customer demand. He says: “Our own approach is to train people in-house, which takes at least a year to eighteen months to bring them up to speed. Finding people is difficult.”

Malte Lafrentz, managing director of Hamburg-based IFE and communications provider Alster Aero, says finding human capital is a continuing challenge. He pins his hopes for a reliable supply of technically capable candidates on his company’s participation in the Hanse Aerospace industry association. “They work closely with the universities of this region, helping them to develop the right courses and find suitably qualified instructors.”

Hanse is working with the city to create a new aviation skills cluster comprising 80 individual projects with a total value of around Eur 450 million  According to Hanse’s president Uwe Groening, a key strategic advantage for local companies in future will be to develop and supplementing their existing specialist skills in the VIP interiors market.

More news, pictures and videos from Aircraft interiors EXPO Hamburg 2008....

Source: Flight Daily News