Adient blog 05/04/2018

Improving Your Experience of a World in Motion

Adient and Boeing will present jointly developed seating solutions to potential customers at AIX in Hamburg, Germany. They intend to contribute those solutions to their new proposed joint venture, Adient Aerospace.

Here, Jason Fahlbush, the nominated COO of Adient Aerospace, explains why the joint venture is beneficial for the industry, passengers and both companies.

Why are Adient and Boeing partnering?

First and foremost, this is about addressing needs. Airline customers have long been constrained by capacity and performance issues in the seating category and we see an opportunity to add value and provide new options as well as additional capacity, but also unmatched expertise in comfort and craftsmanship enhanced and driven by a sophisticated innovation network.

And what better way to address those issues head on than by bringing together two global leaders in their respective industries: Adient with its automotive seating expertise, and Boeing with its industry leadership, coupled with a deep understanding of both customer needs and expectations as well as technical requirements.

When Adient and Boeing started to get to know each other, we realized that there’s an opportunity to create something different in the aircraft seating market: Adient, with its global automotive competencies and operational excellence, delivering more than 25 million seats to the auto industry every year, could really create a compelling new choice for customers.

And clearly, Adient is looking for opportunities to grow, diversify its business, and at ways to use transferable capabilities beyond our core automotive business.

What exactly will Adient Aerospace do and when will you start production?

Adient Aerospace is a new proposed joint venture that Adient and Boeing are planning to establish to develop, manufacture and sell a portfolio of seating products to airlines and aircraft leasing companies. Of course, the seats will be available for installation on new airplanes and as retrofit configurations for aircraft produced by Boeing but also other commercial airplane manufacturers. At this point, most of our product development efforts are focused on lie-flat business class for wide-body aircraft. However, our ambition is to satisfy airline seating needs from tip to tail.

With regards to the delivery schedule, we are in the course of developing this in the coming months. Right now, we are focused on getting the business up and running, and gaining all relevant regulatory approvals.

What will Adient Aerospace bring to the market?

Aside from expanding seating choices and adding manufacturing capacity to support broader commercial airplane industry demands, we see an opportunity to differentiate across three key areas: Comfort, craftsmanship and operational excellence. For context, consider operational performance: We’ve seen aircraft seating market data showing results as low as 65% for on-time delivery performance. In automotive, we typically have 99% or better, with much shorter delivery windows and greater variability in the product mix.

So Adient Aerospace will address the aviation industry’s needs for more performance and capacity in the seating category by expanding seating choices and adding manufacturing capacity to support broader commercial airplane industry demands.

When we look across these three areas – comfort, craftsmanship and operational excellence – we believe there’s an opportunity to make a difference.

How do automotive solutions and knowledge translate into the aircraft seating category?

Both sectors have very high safety requirements, so there are numerous opportunities to use automotive processes and potentially parts in aerospace designs. Leveraging automotive processes is key to delivering on our comfort, quality and craftsmanship expectations. Some materials won’t translate directly, but there are many similarities.

Also, even though certification for aircraft will be new for Adient, we have a very useful asset: an impressive global in-house testing network. For example, in our Kaiserslautern facility in Germany we have been testing aircraft seats for external clients since the early 1990s.

Do you anticipate automotive trends influencing aircraft seating?

We anticipate an accelerating convergence trend across mobility segments and perhaps the most tangible example is what we’re seeing in the autonomous driving segment of automotive. Because when you’re not driving, the entire experience becomes centered on seating, and that is very much in parallel with the aircraft interiors industry. In the future, vehicle occupants won’t be sitting in today’s typical configuration, but being rear facing or side facing or other locations within the vehicle. This brings an interesting parallel with airline seating, which has business class seats in oblique, rear facing and other positions, all of which need to be comfortable and safe.

Any hints to what you’ll be sharing with potential customers this year at the expo?

We are here to showcase the latest evolution and fruits of our collaboration efforts, and to gather valuable feedback from potential customers to better inform our product designs and development strategy.

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