London, May 29, 2020. Dominic Perry, FlightGlobal.com
Despite the immediate impact of the coronavirus on air transport, seating manufacturer Adient Aerospace – part owned by Boeing – is pressing ahead with the launch of a new lie-flat business-class seat for single-aisle jets.
Called Aspect, the seat was due to be unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in April, but following that show’s postponement, Adient Aerospace has taken another tack, promoting via a “soft launch” directly to selected airlines.
In fact, says chief executive Andy Masson, the company was “very mindful” of the state of its customer base and canvassed carriers about “whether to go to them with a new product at this time”.
“I’m extremely happy to be welcomed at Adient Aerospace”, said Andy Masson. “Alan has done a great job bringing us here, the whole team is highly grateful for his leadership and we wish him well in his new role.
From my experience with so many different seats, running Airplane Modifications over the last few years, it’s clear Adient Aerospace has a stunning set of class leading products. This is a great team and a fantastic set of facilities, we will make a huge difference to the market”.
Andy was a member of the core team involved with standing up the Boeing Global Services division of the Boeing Company. Andy was most recently Director of Modifications and Freighter Conversions leading these activities for Boeing Global Services. Previously, Andy held multiple positions with Continental DataGraphics (CDG) and expanded their global footprint, including opening entities in Ireland,Turkey and growing their team in India. As Managing Director for CDG and a member of the Boeing United Kingdom Board of Directors, he played a central role in transforming CDG into an EASA approved engineering-focused business, specializing in cabin interiors and passenger seating.
Under the deal, headcount at Adient Aerospace will increase by around 40%, says chief executive Alan Wittman. The company also gains a production facility in Huntington Beach, California to add to its existing Kaiserslautern, Germany site. Adient Aerospace already had a relationship with Lift by EnCore, offering that company’s “tourist-class” seats as a complement to its own Ascent business-class model, for which Lift was also providing furniture. Additionally, the purchase sees the Lift business transfer between different Boeing companies: in June this year the airframer bought EnCore Group, which owns the Lift line, rebranding it as Boeing EnCore Interiors.
Adient Aerospace, meanwhile, is a joint venture between Boeing and automotive supplier Adient which became operational in October 2018. Despite the link with the Seattle airframer, Wittman says Adient Aerospace paid a “genuine valuation” for the Lift business: “Boeing didn’t just give it to us.” However, he declines to put a specific value on the deal. Lift by EnCore’s economy-class seat has now been rebranded as Ovation, says Wittman. He describes the purchase as “really strategic” for the joint venture, giving Adient Aerospace its own “design, test and build” capability. Wittman says Adient Aerospace’s backlog is for about 70 shipsets – covering Boeing single and twin-aisle aircraft – with the Ascent seat to launch on 787-9s for Hawaiian Airlines in 2021.“We are encouraged by the market reaction; that’s a pretty good uptake in a year,” says Wittman. Although part-owned by Boeing, Wittman says it has also been talking with Airbus and is “going through the vetting process”, with the European manufacturer to “provide another choice for airlines”. While declining to offer specifics on Adient Aerospace’s next product, Wittman says it is “putting a lot of effort into the single-aisle business-class market”. That is driven by the growth of longer-range narrow bodies, he says, where people “will pay for more comfort on an eight-hour trip”.
Adient Aerospace which formed a collaboration with Crane Aerospace & Electronics Cabin Systems to provide innovative seat actuation for theirAscent™ business class seats in 2018 – has now partnered with Crane to support the Boeing 2019 ecoDemonstrator program.“Adient Aerospace is proud to support the ecoDemonstrator program, displaying connected cabin technologies with our seating system,” said Adient Aerospace CEO AlanWittman. “Crane Aerospace & Electronics’ mcX seat actuation system supports the next-generation of connected cabin functionality”
The Ascent business class seats are equipped with sensors to provide real-time information to cabin crews about seat functionality. Over time, this information will enable airlines to use predictive analytics to determine when to replace parts and perform other maintenance.“Crane is pleased to partner with Adient Aerospace to showcase our versatile mcX system on Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program,” said Chris Cook, vice president and general manager of Crane Aerospace & Electronics Cabin Systems. “Our innovative mcX seat actuation system provides connected-cabin functionality with application capability that enhances maintenance efficiency and preserves seat health. Our mcX system seamlessly supports a connected cabin and is the latest example of Crane A&E’s desire to provide innovative solutions for our valued industry partners.” The Ascent seat is one of a number of connected cabin technologies being tested this fall on Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 777. The program is visiting Frankfurt, Germany, this week to showcase innovative technologies that advance aviation. More than 1,000 guests – including industry stakeholders, students and employees – are registered to attend the two-day technology exhibition.
Adient Aerospace, with sponsored student Sahngseok Lee, are proud recipients of the 2019 Crystal Cabin Award for the "1FA" (1 For All) concept. 1FA optimizes various seating classes nested together in a Tetris-like arrangement connected by stairs, resulting in the best possible use of cabin space.
Adient Aerospace are proud to announce Hawaiian Airlines as the launch customer for the new Ascent Suite. Hawaiian will be installing this advanced premium product on their new B787-9 fleet in 2021.