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Development of replacement method for all kind of 16g dynamically tested aircraft cushions.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 16gAirTest (Development of replacement method for all kind of 16g dynamically tested aircraft cushions.)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-02-28

"Testori Aero Supply (TAS) operates in the market of airplane cabin retrofit and since 2007 is certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA): DOA, authorized to design major and minor modifications and repairs to cabin interiors and POA, authorized to manufacture cabin interiors parts. TAS has a direct and deep knowledge of the airplane retrofit market and of customers' needs, in particular those of airlines operating small fleets of heterogeneous aircrafts, the majority of which older than five years. Recently this market has experienced two important changes:
a) new restrictive regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and EASA in 2009 impose that all new airplane seats, must be certified as ""16g"";
b) increase in demand for cushions that are more comfortable and more healthy to passengers than current monolithic models, thus multilayer, and for new floating models.
These combined factors have generated a new market demand for 16g certified multilayer and floating cushions. This affects 65% of in-use airplanes seats, that must gradually replace 9g/16g monolithic cushions with the new 16g multilayer, as well as the future retrofit of new airplanes. This market demand is still unanswered, in particular when the retrofit applies to out-of-production seats or to small orders. The only alternatives offered by the original manufacturers are expensive cushion replacements or the replacement of the whole seat.
TAS intends to answer this market demand and to introduce in the airplane cabin retrofit market 16g certified multilayer and floating cushions for all airplanes, which satisfy the above requirements. To achieve this goal TAS needs to perfect a certification method that TAS has already successfully applied and certified by EASA for 16g monolithic cushions.
The quality of the project has been verified by a feasibility study which allowed:
1. to define the technical plans to achieve the certification of all types of 16g cushions,
2. to obtain a declaration of interest by EASA,
3. to verify target market segments and market potential
4. to define exploitation and commercialization approaches,
5. to estimate production costs and assess sales prices at 50% less than current market alternatives,
6. to verify financial feasibility and business plans.

In particular, during the reporting period, the design of existing 16g multilayer and floating cushions produced by Original Manufacturers was conducted and the possible configurations of cushions have been identified. Additionally an in-depth study and analysis of the proposed test method, was conducted by the R&D team of TAS jointly with Milan Polytechnic (POLIMI) experts, to determine the technical feasibility and the potential risks. Outlined below are the main findings.
• TAS has explored the 16g cushion market to verify the existing multilayer cushions certified through full dynamic tests during the original seat certification and has compared such cushion layers construction scheme and production method with the proposed TAS multilayer configuration finding them quite similar.
• The test process feasibility, the required personnel and equipment have been assessed. Critical points for the determination of cushions characteristics and performances vs. required standards have been detected. Quality acceptance criteria have been defined and preliminarily verified to be reachable with the proposed method.
• TAS has already verified with the EASA the technical requirements to be achieved, the measurements and the thresholds to be verified and has discussed and agreed with EASA the test modalities, in order to achieve the necessary certification, upon successful test results. EASA has expressed its interest to TAS in the proposed test method for 16g multilayer and floating cushions.
• TAS has explored the existence of competitive test methods and of the status of similar projects checking the last EASA Web site page (dated Dec. 22, 2014) dedicated to Supplemental Type Certificate’s (STC’c) and as of February 1, 2015 no similar projects certified in Europe were found nor in the USA. As of today there is only one recognized test method which has been developed by University of Kansas and accepted by FAA (ref. FAA-DOT.AR.05-5-1 document) but never used for cushions certification, that TAS has used in 2013 and 2014 for the certification of 16g monolithic cushions for Boeing B77-200ER..
• The big market players have set plans, according to published reports to apply new, more comfortable seats to their new aircrafts, rather than increasing their presence in the aging aircrafts aftermarket. As a consequence, the demand will increase for old versions of seat cushions, which will become out of production in the short period of time. This is the main market target for TAS.
• TAS has calculated the detailed costs for the development and certification of the test method and for the production of the 16g cushions, for the investments in equipment and skills, in communication and commercialization of the product. The estimated costs for the project have been assessed in 1.829 K€ over 24 months. The expected time to market is 2 years, considering a project start date in Summer/Autumn 2015.
• TAS has estimated the costs of the certification project (50 K€), and outlined a commercialization strategy, where communication and presentation activities have been foreseen. These comprise direct communications to clients also through TAS offices in Switzerland, Russia, Dubai and in Ireland; participation to the most important exhibitions in years 2016 and 2017, communication through specialized press and media in at least four languages besides Italian, and well targeted web communications. The costs of such commercialization activities have been estimated (~ 420 K€) and forecasts for extended actions beyond the project durations have been included in the business plan.
• TAS has defined the value proposition for the certified 16g cushions and has estimated the final cushion price at 250 €/pax compared to 500-600 €/pax of competitors for large aircrafts and 180 €/pax for regional airliners. The company has assessed the pricing policy to be adopted and the unit costs and margins involved. The price is applied to the entire seat fitting (bottom+backrest+optional headrest cushions).
• Two business scenarios have been outlined based on market projections and on the make versus buy option for 16g cushions production:
1. Buy Scenario: external production of the new cushions.
2. Make Scenario: both external and internal production of the new cushions, certification test internally performed at TAS laboratory.
"The final results of the project which will be developed in phase 2 are:
1) a EASA certified test verification methos for 16g multilayer and floating cushions, which avoids the expensive currently FAA certified full dynamic test and replaces it with a new set of static compression tests
2) the production of different customized models (i.e. certified projects) for 16g multilayer and floating cushions to be offered in the market.

The main impact for the company will be a market share inceare from current 3% in the reference niche market up to 10% by 2020.

The feasibility phase has led to the following results:
1) the complete assessment of the technical feasibility, costs, timings and risks and the strategise to avoid potential risks
2) the verification and quantification of the potential target market of the trends in demand for the next 10-20 years and the assessment of the company positioning
3) the elaboration of business and commercialization strategies for the new products
4) the production of two business scenarios: a ""Buy"" scenario, based on the current company's business strategy which relies on subcontracting the production to certified third parries and a ""make"" scenario which foresees the possibility for the company to directly produce at least part (i.e. the top value range segment) of the new products.

The main impacts include:
1) increase in the company's turnover and overall business (Worldwide visibility, market share etc.)
2) increase in the company's technical skills, in terms of new materials and new testing techniques
3) increase of employment both in the supply chain and at the company's, due to the manegement of increased orders and clients and of the need to cover a wider geographic market
4) increase in the competitiveness of SMEs in the market of Aircraft cabinns retrofit, currently monopolized by big players (major Airlines and Original Equipment Manufacturers), that will allow a market penetration from current 1-3% up to 10% in 5 years.
5) increased skill creations among subcontractors of the supply chain.

An additonal impacts, which will be better assessed during the project execution, consists in the weight reduction od cabin seats as a consequence of new cushions. Tis woul allow both environmental (saving of NiOX2 emissions) and economic (emissions tax reduction) for Airlines, especially for small-medium-size operators.

The economic impacts for the company have been elaborated into numerical business plans which present the financial results which we expect to obtain from the proposed project.

The estimations indicate that the company will more than double its tunrover within 3 years of the end of the project (i.e. 2020). Business projections indicate a company turnover increase (2013/2020) due to the project in the order of 127%, 25% ROS and 75% ROI. For the above reasons TAS has decided to proceed in the project implementation."