How is a Passenger Cabin Designed? Basic Planning Concepts II


In a previous post we introduced in a generic way the concepts and constraints that directly impacts the design of an aircraft passenger cabin. But how about from a more technical standpoint?

Since the moment the airline agrees with the manufacturer the purchase of a brand new aircraft until its final delivery, there is usually a lapse of several years. The manufacturer sells “slots” or production intervals that airlines and leasing companies acquire in order to position themselves close to the beginning of the final assembly process. Few months before the serial number of the airliner is assigned (the MSN, Manufacturer Serial Number) and once confirmed, we begin the definition process.

As a curiosity, under normal circumstances and in the best scenario, it takes no less than two years for an A320 aircraft type to be delivered to the airline, since the definition process starts until the delivery takes place -slightly less if there is a slot available in production-.

When we start the cabin customization, we have to take into account several aspects for the selection of the cabin furnishing: The seats, galleys and whatever module supplier must be “qualified” by the aircraft manufacturer. And why is this? Because of quality, the manufacturer confirms the excellence and safety of the products installed on board, Because of technical reasons, the manufacturer verifies the good installation and performance of the materials. Because of logistics, the manufacturer acknowledge and assures minimum or no risks on the supply chain of the components installed on board throughout the assembly process.

As we can see, the goal is to maintain the constant performance of “production”, and all the measures and decisions involved are aimed to preserve the uninterrupted operation of this line.

As this is an assembly line process, each section of the plane is installed in numbered “stations”. So when the interior fittings and furnishing are carried out, the plane is almost finished. Although it seems obvious, all the elements that are designed for the interior (seats, toilets, galleys, etc) have to fit through the aircraft doors! For this reason they must be conceived in the design phase as modular elements that require a minimum of manipulation inside the aircraft, and only the anchoring and fixation to the structure when loaded inside the cabin.

It goes without saying the importance of the corporate image of the interiors! Every selected color, texture, material and finishes are essential to provide personality to these spaces. When our customers board our aircrafts, they perceive Iberia’s branding through a sensory experience: the interiors of our airliners have been designed to offer an exclusive brand, which together with the catering service, mood lighting (especially evidenced in our long range fleet), in-flight entertainment and uniformity of our crews, convey this sign of the Iberia’s identity.

Once the airplane is completely finished, the final formalities are carried out in order to proceed with the so called ToT (Transfer of Title). Once this procedure is completed, the plane is registered to the local authority and the flag is changed to the Spanish one – until now, a small flag was displayed on the tail of the plane that corresponds to the country of manufacture of the asset (Germany, France, China, or the United States on Airbus aircrafts).

Iberia’s commitment to the highest quality standards and its relationship with Airbus is the result of its modern and outstanding fleets and aircrafts.


Jorge de Luis Sierra

Aircraft Interior Design Specialist ı Aviation Branding