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Innovative EASA certified dynamic test method for 16g aircraft seat cushions

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 16gAirTest-Phase2 (Innovative EASA certified dynamic test method for 16g aircraft seat cushions)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

"The project has the objective to:

1. develop and test a new manufacturing and certification method for ""16g multilayer seats and cushions"" for aircrafts, compliant to FAA regulation 121-135, extending the already EASA approved method for 16g monolithic cushions,
2. experience the method on different multilayer seats and cushions and produce pre-commercial samples,
3. achieve FAA and EASA approval for the certification method,
4. develop marketable 16g multilayer cushions,
5. define and roadmap the production, logistics and commercialization strategies and organizational structures to support the new business originated by the new cushions.

The key idea behind the project starts from the concept that without such a low-cost certification method, airline companies struggling with cost constraints would either neglect passengers' safety by delaying cushions replacements or offer low-comfort flying conditions, by using old or non- certified cushions models, with potential vascular risks and impacts on passengers' wellbeing. Besides being safer and more comfortable than current products, TAS multilayer cushions are lightweight, and will be complemented by TAS certified covers, 60% lighter than originals (up to 600 g./pax.), thus reduce fuel consumption, in compliance with IATA commitment for CO2 emissions reduction (carbon-neutral growth from 2020). Therefore, the project has not only consequence on safety and economy of the transport industry, but is also relevant for passengers' health and for the environment.

All planned tests were carried out and competed internally in TAS, while externally in GEVEN (crashworthiness dynamic tests) and in Politecnico di Milano (compression tests).
Politecnico di Milano has positively assessed the cushion test method proposed by TAS.
Subsequently EASA approval for TAS certification method has been released.
TAS is now in the position to start to propose to the market 16g multilayer cushions to be certified with the new method: in fact, TAS is basically certifying the method and the material, since the products are directly derived from the certified materials on a case by case basis due to different customers’ requirements.
After having carefully evaluated with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) representative the details of the method to be developed and certified, through a series of aimed meetings, we purchased all foams needed to build the different configurations for dynamic testing and all material to test as planned in accordance with authorities’ flammability regulations, materials included mainly foams, leathers and fabrics.

Compared to the original plan in which Politecnico di Milano was meant to carry out part of the flammability tests in its own laboratory, we had to perform more tests internally in order to speed up the whole testing process, leaving to Politecnico di Milano only the dynamic testing part, being the only entity with the appropriate structure.

• we tested all materials in our internal laboratory, 330 Oil Burn Tests in total and 70 vertical tests to determine all materials flammability response;
• GEVEN performed 13 crashworthiness dynamic tests;
• Politecnico di Milano performed 560 dynamic compression tests and 4 additional crashworthiness dynamic tests with rigid sled as requested by EASA.

In order to manage some data discrepancy, some of the additional tests were carried out using a sled with a rigid seat on which to place, for testing, our cushions; other additional tests, upon EASA request, were carried out with two new cushion configurations (G-H configurations), one with particularly soft materials and one with particularly rigid materials.
The certification method has been finally approved by Politecnico di Milano, and subsequently TAS has been able to prepare and send to EASA all the required documentation for EASA final approval.
EASA final report has been released on June 20th 2018, with a positive statement: “based on the activities performed, EASA finds that the methodology under development could be potentially implemented in certification projects and could be compatible with the objective to achieve cost effectiveness of the new certification approach”.

We opened 2 commercial offices in Dubai and in Dublin in order to better promote our product in 2 of the main geographical areas we considered crucial after an accurate market analysis. Ireland is where the highest percentage of Aircraft lessors are located in Europe and the Middle East is at the moment the fastest growing market globally from an aviation point of view.

Our commercial executives and agents have travelled around all clients within all countries where we already established business relationships in order to present and promote the new project. As initially planned the aim is to raise our market share in the existing markets to then move to new geographical areas such as China and South America.

TAS participated to the following exhibitions: in 2016, 2017 and 2018 in Hamburg (AIX); in 2016 and 2018 in Dubai (AIME); in 2017 and 2018 in Dublin (AIRCRAFT DUBLIN SUMMIT); in 2017 in Moscow (MAKS); in 2018 in Kuwait (AVIATION SHOW). Additionally, TAS organized specific events, one in Italy dedicated to airlines companies and one in Dublin dedicated to lessor companies. TAS was invited at the end of October 2016 by EASA to the 8th Triennial International Aircraft Fire and Cabin Safety Research Conference in Atlantic City in order to present the project at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); in 2017 was invited to present the cushions’ certification method by ASIDIC (Aerospace Structural Impact Dynamics International Conference) in Wichita.
The reactions we got from our presentations were really promising from both potential clients and all aviation authorities representatives.

A new digital approach to the market has been designed, together with the preparation of new marketing material. A new logo has been designed and a brand new company WEB site has been implemented. It has been released on YOUTUBE the official company presentation and a new LinkedIn page for the company has been opened.

The organizational structure has been redesigned in order to support the future business evolution, and a thorough business plan, based on a newly created Excel model, has been developed.
The expected impact remains in line with the that of initial application.

Now that TAS has obtained in June 2018 EASA approval for the new certification method, it can start soon the production of the new 16g multilayer cushions.

A survey addressed to our present customers and to those who have been our customers in the past has shown that the most important parameter which can influence the choice for a multilayer cushion is weight reduction, while the drivers for the selection of a provider for cushions replacement are first of all price and delivery time.

At the end of the project we can say that TAS 16g multilayer cushions can satisfy the customers’ requirements of weight reduction, lower price and short delivery time, thanks to the materials used and the new approved certification methodology, which allows a shorter delivery time and a lower cost than the usual cushions. In this way a strong innovation is introduced in the business of airplane cabin retrofitting, where TAS will play the role of first comer.