SINGAPORE — Swire Group’s HAECO is continuing its transformation from MRO to seating supplier, and will deliver Airbus A350 seats to Swire stablemate Cathay Pacific next year. At the Aircraft Interiors Expo Asia show this week, HAECO’s director of sales & business development Jonathon Mitchell revealed more about the company’s strategic focus and plans for inflight product.
What’s new with HAECO? What are you showing on the stand?
JM: We are continuing to unveil the Vector family of economy class products in this particular region, the Asian-Pacific market place, gaining market traction and trend over there. This is a modular seat that allows for anything basic to support the single class low-cost carriers all the way to international widebody long-haul, seat pan articulation, IFE integration, etc. It’s all based off the same frame which allows for commonality across fleets for airlines.
You’re showing some new options here, right?
JM: Right. So we have a sample of a PED holder design that we are getting some additional feedback on. It is not available for the market yet. We are using it at shows like this as a chance to gauge customer feedback on that. We have done some differences with the dress cover paddings, both on the short-haul version and the long-haul version. Again, we’re just getting customer feedback to see how we are going down the right direction. And listening to the customers to understand what their needs are going forward.
What’s your customer list for Vector?
JM: Right now we are flying with LOT Polish on the 737 and Copa’s new LCC carrier Wingo is operating the Vector seat. Additionally we are in the process of building and delivering Q3 next year to Airbus for the A350-1000 on behalf of Cathay Pacific. In addition to that we have some active campaigns [that] we expect at the end of this year and next year to [come to fruition] when Vector takes off, now that we have got the product in service. We have it certified across the Boeing and Airbus platforms.
Were you previously in the Airbus catalogue?
JM: Brice/Timco was previously in the Airbus A320 catalogue. We are not currently in it. We are discussing with Airbus for 350 and that eventually inclusion in the A320 catalogue as well too.
How about in-seat power?
JM: We are offering USB power in the seatback itself. We are also offering rear mounted 110 standard PC power. We talked about using these shows and taking the opportunity to understand where the market trends are in regards to – are people still going to take PC power or are they shifting more towards USB, depending on mission profiles and what the airlines want to do with customers.
What are you hearing on that front?
JM: There is still a need for the PC power. There is still a level of comfort for that, but we are seeing a lot more people that want either a hybrid solution where they have both available to the customers or they are looking at USB only as a weight savings option.
Could you tell us a little more about how that rear mounted 110 works? Is it rear mounted and forward facing or rear mounted, rear facing?
JM: It’s rear mounted rear facing so the passenger looking at the seat in front of them can reach it and get the outlet right away, as opposed to the standard forward mounted forward facing where you have got to reach down between your legs to get that.
In terms of the power distribution, who are you working with for the actual plugs and the power systems?
JM: We are working with Astronics and KID-Systeme PC power only and then of course we have relationships with Thales and Panasonic too as well for when the IFE integration becomes a part of the program as well.
Astronics and KID are able to supply you what you need?
JM: We treat that in terms of our baseline; we are still going to stay with the provens of the Astronics and the KIDs but we do have the flexibility to support any. If the customer desired something different than the standard operating… industry standards, if you will, then we’d provide those.
Where are you in the certification process?
JM: We have TSO for the 737, the A320 [and] we will have certification for the A350 shortly, and then the 787 is right now – we will be filing it shortly.
Is that speculative or is that customer-driven?
JM: That is speculative.
Will that be going into the catalogue?
JM: We will work with Boeing in the best way forward.
How about moving to a more premium seat, or business class?
JM: Right now we are doing some customer trials on widebody premium economy, and we will also be unveiling a new narrowbody business class product, based on the Vector family so we have got the commonality, we have got the ease of maintenance, we have got the weight competitiveness but still the customization that airline customers are looking for. So we are excited about that one too. And then we continue to explore moving further forward in the cabin but there is no plans that are being communicated at this point.
Is that premium economy in the legroom sense, or width plus legroom?
JM: Width plus legroom — a proper international premium economy product. We have actually had campaigns with Vector on the standard triple configuration where you have got just the standard extended legroom premium economy. Because it is a modular seat frame you can put seat pan articulation on the premium economy section of the cabin, get a little bit more recline, a little more feature and amenity but it is still the same product the airline is taking.
It’s a platform design, it’s “what do you want it to be?” for your aircraft. You can do basic, or standard, or you can dress it up.