Aircraft interiors specialist and engineering firm Jamco America was recently selected as an A350 XWB ‘Airbus Contracted Supplier’ (ACS) for premium seating products, becoming the second supplier – after EADS Sogerma – to be tapped by the European airframer to provide such seats for the new widebody.
The agreement, inked after several months of negotiations, will see Airbus offer Jamco’s new ‘Journey’ premium seat (available forward facing in six abreast or seven abreast for first- and business-class cabins) as part of its A350 XWB catalogue before the end of this year.
But the agreement is also significant for other reasons; it marks Jamco’s official foray into aircraft seat manufacturing (after many years providing the ‘furniture’ that surrounds premium seats, and other interiors products), and opens the door for the company to provide buyer furnished equipment (BFE) to A350 customers.
“By becoming an ACS supplier with a catalogue seat offering – Journey – allows us to offer BFE seating products. So the opportunities are not only on the ACS side – though some airlines are very interested in our ACS concept – but also to assist airlines that want to have their own look and feel and their own in-house design [for business- and first-class seating]. We can provide something unique to them so we’re involved in that area as well,” says Jamco America executive director, sales and marketing Mario Diliani.
He notes that Boeing took a similar approach with its 787 catalogue. “If you pick ACS, Airbus is responsible for performance and delivery guarantees of the seat being installed on the aircraft. The airline doesn’t have to do anything but select a seat [from the catalogue]. After that, if the airline says, ‘I don’t want the catalogue, I want this seat with all these features and customisation, then it becomes a BFE programme where the airline takes responsibility and burden for deliveries and delays.”
Jamco opted to enter the premium seating arena, versus mass-produced economy-class seats, because it favours “steady, stable growth” and it was “not our intent to overnight go out there with a whole selection of various seats and cabins and go up against the big guys”, Diliani tells the APEX editor’s blog.
Its Journey offering features a true full-flat bed and single actuator functionality, as well as advanced materials resulting, it says, in higher strength-to-weight ratio and an original designed kinematic system to allow smooth movements.
“We looked closely at what Airbus was looking for in an A350 seat. The key criteria were low weight, easy to maintain, and fast to build. Airbus obviously is looking at a very high production rate for the A350 aircraft and they wanted an opportunity for customers who want a catalogue seat to have delivery to be very quick – faster than current lead times in the industry. With weight, simplicity and maintainability, and fast production rates [in mind], our assessment was that a single actuator seat not only provides us what we need as far as full flat, but also helped a lot on weight and cost and speed of production as well.,” says Diliani.
Jamco showed the Journey seat to select airlines for the first time in an enclosed area at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. It solicited feedback, which varied depending on the tier of the carrier or whether a marketing person was viewing the seat versus, say, someone from an airline engineering department. “So we catalogued all this feedback by airline, by person from the airline, by job function, and as a result of that, following the show we looked for common themes to change, modify or amend, and kept those [features] that were well received by the airlines,” says Diliani.
Large teams from both Airbus and Boeing also viewed Journey. Whilst Jamco’s current focus is the Airbus ACS as well as the retrofit market, there it “no question” about whether it will follow up with additional opportunities at other airframers, says the Jamco America executive.
“It happened that the first opportunity was Airbus, but obviously today Jamco is a huge supplier to Boeing…so it’s kind of logical that we could include additional offerings [on the 787]; we’re already an approved supplier with a close relationship.”
Jamco America parent Jamco Corp is the sole source supplier of lavatories, galleys, flight deck bulkhead, flight deck panels and stowage, and bar units on every 787. Jamco America’s facility is located beside Boeing in Everett, Washington.