Interior Upgrade

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20 May 2015

Interior Upgrade

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group’s engineering and integration services result in the rapid reconfiguration of two A330s for TAP Portugal.

In July 2013, TAP, Portugal’s leading airline, approached Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group to upgrade two A330s the operator was purchasing in order to increase its long range fleet. The upgrade was to include a cabin reconfiguration (to a standard TAP layout to bring them in line with the operator’s existing A330s already serving long-haul routes), new seating for both Economy and Business Class, a new In-Flight Entertainment System (IFE) and a Lower Deck Mobile Crew Rest (LD-MCR).

Business Class Seat development.

However, the upgrade timescales were exceptionally tight as the aircraft were going to be operated by another airline until the end of 2013 but TAP wanted both upgraded and in service by mid-2014.

TAP’s selection of Marshall was based on how well the company had project managed, engineered and integrated a four-aircraft (Airbus A340) cabin upgrade programme during 2012, which also had time-sensitive requirements. This gave TAP great confidence.

Stripped out cabin awaiting retrofit

For the A330s upgrade, Marshall, upon contract award in October took on project management and engineering roles, giving immediate priority to ordering long lead-time equipment and addressing some of the more challenging integration issues. For instance, the LD-MCR, which can accommodate up to seven crew members, was particularly challenging as this unit is selected as an option when an aircraft is ordered from new (i.e. built-to-order). It occupies space in the cargo hold so, as a retrofit, required comprehensive structural changes to the airframe including the rerouting of cables and hydraulic lines. The LD-MCR also needed integrating with the aircraft’s electrical, cabin air distribution, smoke detection and alarm systems.

As for the IFE, the previous seat-back system was replaced with a new Panasonic Avionics eXLite one. It too has seat-back screens, the installation of which was relatively easy for Economy. For Business class, the seats and centre pedestals were modified by Marshall; and the company also had the responsibility of testing and re-certifying the seats, which involved sled acceleration tests to ensure they met Head Impact Criteria (HIC).

Completed Economy cabin

Marshall supplied approved modification kits to TAP Maintenance and Engineering, in Lisbon, and the installation of the upgrade commenced in the spring of 2014 with the support of Marshall on-site Design Engineers. The Marshall A330 modification was approved by European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), allowing return to service, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bilateral approval is currently being applied for in support of US-based supplier interests and any later aircraft re-sale.

Although a challenging project, the upgrade of the first aircraft only took 92 days to complete. The second, only 52. Post modification and certification, the first aircraft was released to service on 25th July 2014; approximately 10 months after project inception, and several months less than the industry norm.