After kicking off in November 2017, the retrofit of Zodiac's RAVE IFE system on three AerCap 777-300s has just been signed off by FAA. Plenty of challenges had to be overcome in the process.
1 - A world first: the installation of ZII RAVE on a 777-300ER
The first challenge was to modify the cabin using an IFE system that had never before been fitted to a 777-300ER aircraft. The teams came up against technical challenges that no-one had ever encountered before.
2 - A record number of passengers
AerCap ordered cabin modifications for three aircraft earmarked for Turkish airline Azur Air. AFI KLM E&M now holds the record for putting the greatest number of passengers in an aircraft after installing 531 seats. Because normally 777 seats 410-430 passengers, the team were faced with a major challenge with the IFE system, namely to guarantee sufficient electrical power to operate all 531 passenger screens, 11 overhead screens and additional 50 hot spares and guarantee that they will work when all were in use simultaneously, e. g., when a film is being watched.
3 - The best expertise
AerCap selected AFI KLM E&M for obvious expertise reasons. The Group is acknowledged in the market as the most experienced 777 DOA. It has already carried out cabin modifications on 46 Air France aircraft, with different cabin configurations, and also for a dozen other airlines.
Added to this is the Group's unrivalled experience with the very recent RAVE system: AFI KLM E&M is the DOA that has carried out most retrofits with this system.
Another advantage for the teams - and by no means the least -is their previous knowledge of the 5324 seats made by Italian manufacturer GEVEN fitted in the cabin: they are the same as those installed for Joon.
4 - The benefits of being both a DOA and an airline
In combining DOA and airline status, AFI KLM E&M clearly stands out from the other DOAs. The Group has tested its solutions on its own Air France aircraft, and more: "We approached this aircraft as if it were an Air France aircraft," explains Alexandre Tahbaz, the project's program manager since November 2017. "When we made our design and engineering choices, we did not restrict ourselves to simply responding within the regulatory framework, as other DOAs usually do. We put ourselves in the airline's shoes."
5 - Very worthwhile cooperation with AerCap
The modification of these three 777s is one more step in a long and successful partnership between AFI KLM E&M and AerCap. "Throughout the project, we encountered multiple difficulties, but the work was always done in a good-tempered atmosphere," emphasizes Alexandre Tahbaz. "It's rare to work on projects where all subjects are discussed with transparency and solved with equity, and that is largely down to the mindset of AerCap's people. It's a real pleasure to work with them."
On 9 January 2019, AFI KLM E&M received Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) certification, allowing the three aircraft to spread their wings.