FACC is showing at Hamburg a mock-up of the overhead stowage compartments it will supply for the new Airspace-themed cabin on Airbus A320s as it gears up for series production of the larger units in the last quarter of 2018. The Austrian manufacturer is also looking at the potential for retrofitting the branded “Airspace XL Bins” in existing narrowbodies.

The company has supplied luggage compartments and other cabin components to Airbus since the early 1990s and is the sole supplier of the current-configuration baggage bins, as well as ceiling panels, for the A320. Robert Machtlinger, chief executive of FACC, says that as production of the new units ramps up, he expects two thirds of those taking delivery of A320s from 2020 to opt for the Airspace cabin, with the remainder sticking with the existing 2007 design.

He says two trends are driving a customer requirement for larger stowage compartments: the first is a business model increasingly being adopted by narrowbody operators to charge passengers for check-in luggage; the second is a move to use longer-range and larger-capacity single-aisle aircraft, such as the A321, for thinner or low-cost mid-haul routes, including Europe to the east coast of North America and the Middle East.

This, he believes, could increase demand in the aftermarket for the XL Bins as airlines look to equip their cabins for faster turnarounds at the gate and reduce hold luggage. “It is an opportunity we are looking at very carefully,” Machtlinger says.

The interiors market represents roughly 30% of FACC’s $1 billion revenues, with most of that coming from Airbus and the remainder from business jet applications for Bombardier and Embraer. The other 70% of FACC’s turnover is split between aerostructures – it makes mostly wing components for Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier aircraft among others – and engine housing and other components. These include fan cowls and casings for Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney Canada.

Get all the coverage from Aircraft Interiors on our dedicated event page

Chinese aerospace group AVIC has held a majority stake in FACC for nine years, with the remaining 45% trading on the Vienna stock exchange, where it was recently listed among the most influential 20 businesses. Under AVIC, FACC has invested €450 million ($560 million) in “capacity and technology”, says Machtlinger, tripling the size of the company and adding 2,000 jobs. “We have also worked on globalisation, opening subsidiaries in Montreal, Wichita, Shanghai and India,” he says.

A further €100 million is being invested this year and next on further factory improvements, and in research and development, adds Machtlinger.

FACC values its latest Airbus contract at more than €500 million. Airbus announced during last year’s Paris air show that it was extending its Airspace concept – launched at AIX 2016 for its A350 and A330neo cabins – to its single-aisle line. It becomes the fourth major interiors layout on the narrowbody family. The increased-capacity luggage bins – which can hold eight pieces of luggage up to 61 x 40 x 25cm (24 x 16 x 10in) – were one of the key aspects of the design, along with LED lighting and restyled lavatories. FACC also says its ceiling panels “provide for uniform illumination in the cabin”.

Earlier this year, FACC won the contract to supply hybrid metal-composite fan cases for the P&WC PW800 engine family that powers, among others, the Gulfstream G500 and G600. It already produces fan cowls for the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000, the engine on the in-development A330neo. Among its other aerostructures contracts, it manufactures the split scimitar winglets for the Boeing 737 on behalf of Aviation Partners Boeing.

Source: Flight Daily News