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A350 vendor selection

* Note this interview was conducted in March 2009*

What’s the latest with the A350 vendor selection program?
The major cabin equipment vendors announced so far include: B/E Aerospace (oxygen system, galleys); B/E, Ipeco and Mongram (GAINS – SFE multiple source); Zodiac – C&D (lavatories); AOA/LGG (water waste and heating system); Diehl (DSCS, core illumination, floor2floor, crew rest compartment); Siemens (smoke detection system); Zodiac – Air Cruisers (evacuation slides); KID (cabin video and cockpit door surveillance system); and Adams Rite (cockpit door module). It is our intention to select seat and IFE suppliers in the coming months.

What guides you in selecting vendors?
Our vendor selections take into account the feedback from the continuous monitoring of the vendor performance on existing programmes, together with the inputs from our Customer Services team and airline operators. This is channelled via a dedicated Airline Operations team embedded in the A350 XWB Programme. A key element in our decision is the vendor's ability to conceive innovative products and drive them through to mature and reliable service entry. The selections are also driven by the need, recognised by our customers, to have the project management, engineering and production capabilities in place to support a challenging program ramp-up and by the suppliers ability to offer a higher threshold level of Supplier Support Conditions than on previous aircraft programs.

What A350 cabin items will be supplier-furnished-equipment?
All cabin items on the A350 XWB will be Supplier Furnished Equipment except for seats and IFE, which will be equipment selected under the Airbus Contracted Supplier model. Note that an airline can still select Premium Seats as Buyer Furnished Equipment subject to an additional leadtime for seat development and qualification that ranges from 18-30 months according to the complexity and maturity of the product.

How will this affect an airlines’ ability to differentiate itself from the competition?
The Airbus Contracted Supplier scheme gives airlines the reassurance of a choice of competitive modular products that can be delivered on time and at the requisite quality. Concretely, it means that Airbus has the contractual ability to ensure delivery of the cabin products to the final assembly line on time and at the expected quality, as is the case with SFE today, but the real innovation is that the customer retains the ability to negotiate all commercial terms of its choice, including additional warranties or the 'bundling' of a selection with other products and services from the same vendor.

We are perfectly conscious of our customers’ need and desire to differentiate their cabin product, and for that reason all the cabin products in the A350 XWB catalogue are of modular design and construction, allowing a tremendous level of variation based on different combinations of modular parts.

For example, Electrical Galley Inserts (GAINs), are available as SFE from three suppliers: B/E Aerospace, Monogram and Ipeco. In making selections we are mindful of the need to ensure competition and continuous innovation in the products to be rolled out in future catalog updates.

Can you provide an update on the so-called ‘D’ shape galley design Airbus is proposing for the A350 – what’s the latest customer feedback?
Last year we unveiled to A350 XWB customers an innovative rear galley arrangement that earned itself the nickname of ‘D-shape’. During the second half of the year we conducted further ergonomic and operational analyses of the galley and reviewed the results with customers last November. We catalogued areas of potential improvement during these discussions and ended up with a majority of customers who thought we should move to a more traditional arrangement and the remainder who thought we should resolve the issues associated with the D-shape. Consequently, we have been working on an alternative arrangement and will be consulting with our customers once more before taking a final decision. I think it's worth emphasising that 100% of our customers appreciate our efforts to drive greater efficiency into the rear galley area.

What’s the latest with the A350’s IFE vendor selection process; and what ‘brief’ have you provided the competing companies?
IFE and Connectivity is perhaps the most rapidly evolving part of the cabin. Since our earliest discussions with customers, we have heard that the market continues to seek new on-demand functionalities, driven by passenger expectations of consumer electronics, but at significantly reduced through-life cost and lower weight than previous generations of equipment. Vendors are responding to this challenge from both ends of the spectrum as far as functionality and cost is concerned.

We have seen the start of a cross-over from portable equipment towards semi-embedded variants, which nevertheless offer video on demand and wireless connectivity. At the same time higher-end equipment is beginning to reverse the trend of increasing weight, cost and power consumption we have seen in recent years and is introducing new functionalities to generate advertising and other ancillary revenues to offset the cost of the equipment.

We have segmented the market into three categories: Primary, Efficient and Comfort. Even a Primary system will still offer AVOD and connectivity and the IFE offer in each category will provide some optional functions that bring it up to base offer of the category above. We recognise that the cost-of-entry to become a reliable supplier in long-haul IFE market today is high, and that the Primary offer will help ensure we have strong competition in the segment to the benefit of airlines worldwide.

Major A350 cabin equipment suppliers:
Oxygen system & galleys: B/E Aerospace

GAINS (SFE multiple source): B/E, Ipeco & Monogram 
Lavatories: Zodiac – C&D

Water waste and heating system: AOA/LGG

Door and Slide Control System (DSCS): Core Illumination, Floor2floor

Crew rest compartment: Diehl

Smoke detection system: Siemens

Evacuation slides: Zodiac – Air Cruisers

Cabin video and cockpit door surveillance system: KID Systeme GmbH

Cockpit door module: Adams Rite


30 May 2010


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