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3rd April 2019, Newton Abbot

Rockwood and Haeco to revolutionise aircraft seating

Rockwood’s role is facilitating the design for manufacture of the surround seating system and undertaking tool design and manufacture. © Rockwood Composites/ Haeco Cabin Solutions

Rockwood’s role is facilitating the design for manufacture of the surround seating system and undertaking tool design and manufacture. © Rockwood Composites/ Haeco Cabin Solutions

Haeco Cabin Solutions has commissioned Rockwood Composites to do the tooling on its new Eclipse cabin platform for seat shells and console work. Eclipse is a new line of premium products for short haul business class and long-haul premium economy with a patented staggered seating arrangement. This arrangement provides a similarly luxurious experience to that found on long haul business class flights, while also improving the airline’s route economics, according to Haeco.

The business potential for the new seating is huge and there is already a commitment to refit a large fleet for an unnamed Middle-East-based airline, according to the partners. This seat will feature compound, moulded surfaces and respective tooling design. Rockwood will also provide what Haeco terms “zero production parts,” which are used to validate that the design meets its intended function and can be manufactured in long run.

Engineering challenges

There were many technical, composites engineering challenges, Rockwood explains. These included the ability to design a lightweight structure with enough modularity which would allow Haeco to contend with future permutations of the product. Also, the shapes used in this class are not new, but the scale and industrial design are a “first of a kind” for this cabin. These compounded surfaces have never been used in this class of service before.

Rockwood’s role is facilitating the design for manufacture of the surround seating system and undertaking tool design and manufacture. The UK-based composites specialist is producing the seat surround, which attaches to the back of the seat, as opposed to being attached to the floor plinth. This new configuration is said to offer many economic advantages, take up less space, making qualification less costly and provide the feel of a first-class seat at a much lower cost.

The component is a fully matched metal compression moulded design, made in a modular design that is bonded together then finished and coated. This design perfectly suits Rockwood’s manufacturing process of compression moulding design. “To secure the right rigidity, strength and flexibility of the set surround was a real challenge, and one we met head on. Working closely with Haeco Cabin Solutions, we have deployed our expertise in composites to deliver a seat which is fully compliant and could easily be mistaken for a first-class environment,” explained Mark Crouchen, Managing Director of Rockwood Composites. “We are looking forward to building this partnership as more and more airlines see the advantage in this innovative manufacturing process.”

Smart design

Jose Pevida, Haeco Cabin Solutions Senior Vice President of Engineering and Product Development explained further: “It comes down to ‘how smart’ the tools are designed, and how much thought has gone into making the right tools. These developments are key to Haeco because they support our initiatives with a totally new platform of premium products.  Nothing like Eclipse has been done before.”

“The big value Rockwood brings is their high degree of innovation and capability when it comes to composites.  We were looking for a way to optimize these structures for weight, strength, and manufacturability.  We were aware of their capabilities based on their past success with projects like this. We are delighted to be cooperating with Rockwood. They have shown the aptitude to carefully evaluate our product needs and give us various alternatives in order to arrive at the best choice.  They are very detail oriented and don’t try to sell us the first thing that comes to mind – they don’t stop until we have mutually arrived at the best solution.”

www.rockwoodcomposites.com  

www.haeco.com

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