Airbus has opened an extension of its A350 cabin CDC (customer definition centre) at its Hamburg facility, to include A320 and A330 interior customisation activities.
The airframer established the A350 CDC in 2014 to centralise all customisation processes, which had previously taken place with separate Airbus teams and individual equipment vendors, in a single location. The aim was to improve the interior configuration process with various virtual-reality aids, equipment testing areas and cabin mock-ups.
Speaking to FlightGlobal on the eve of AIX 2019, Airbus senior vice-president of cabin and cargo programmes Soren Scholz said the airframer wanted to ensure that aircraft interior configuration could be finalised at a specified time, in order to facilitate a smooth production ramp-up.
Previously, late cabin changes had led to complications in the aircraft assembly process, he says.
The A320 and A330 customisation centre has been set up next to the A350 CDC in a converted 1930s hangar – one of the oldest buildings on the Finkenwerder site, which was originally established an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of local shipyard Blohm & Voss.
Covered by a restored, riveted iron roof and overseen by a large historic wall clock, the hangar has been converted to an industrial loft-style, two-storey mezzanine space, split into an area for A320 cabin configuration and another for the A330.
Several meeting rooms are available with 6m x 3m (20ft x 10ft) back-projection screens to produce interactive 3D representations of different cabin layouts.
These representations display a cabin's touch and feel in fine detail – for example, seat covers have been scanned to show the individual textures of different fabrics, while cabin lighting is rendered in similar detail, presenting the interplay of artificial, potentially coloured lighting and natural light.
Operators can review different seats, galley and door-entry configurations in a range of cabin mock-ups. Those of the A320 and A330 also show equipment options for the underfloor cargo areas.
Scholz notes that mock-ups tend to be used to review selected equipment installations, while virtual models allow planners to experiment with different cabin layouts prior to any physical modelling, and can present a proposed cabin in its entirety.
In order to simulate cabin service processes in different configurations, Airbus has set up rooms in which the outlines of interior installations are projected onto the floor.
While complex, elaborate interiors tended to be found mainly on widebody types in the past, Scholz says demand for cabin customisation is increasing on single-aisle aircraft, as the re-engined A320neo and Boeing 737 Max are capable of operating certain long-haul routes.
But because single-aisle aircraft are produced at much higher rates than traditional long-haul types, more efficient ways of configuring the aircraft's interior with the operators had to be developed, he says.
At its Toulouse headquarters, Airbus has set up a cabin mock-up for the A220 – formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries – to support sales efforts for the programme.
No plans have been disclosed to establish a customer definition centre for the A220 in Hamburg, as the extended site has been dedicated to – and named after – Airbus's Airspace cabin interior line.
This was introduced on the A350 and A330neo – which entered service in 2018 – and has been extended to the A320.
Senior vice-president marketing customer affairs Francois Caudron says, however, that while the A220's interior is still new, it would be feasible to include the type in the CDC if a new, Airspace-style cabin were adopted in the future.
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