Emirates to carry out "largest known fleet retrofit" project

18 Aug 2022 by Hannah Brandler
Emirates retrofit programme

Emirates has released further details on upgrades to its 120 aircraft, describing it as the “largest known fleet retrofit” project.

The project is set to begin in November as part of Emirates’ multi-billion dollar investment in its inflight customer experience, recently reported by Business Traveller.

Emirates outlines $2 billion customer experience investment

The airline plans to retrofit four aircraft “from start to finish” every month, continuously for over two years, with a completion date of April 2025.

The project will begin with the refresh of 67 A380s. Once back in service, the airline will turn its focus to upgrading 53 B777s.

The works will see nearly 4,000 of the airline’s new premium economy seats installed, which are already available on A380 routes to London, Paris and Sydney.

The airline will also be refurbishing 728 first class suites, and upgrading over 5,000 business class seats to a new style and design.

Additionally, the airline will upgrade the carpets and stairs while also introducing “new tones and design motifs” to the cabin interior panels such as the ghaf trees native to the UAE.

The airline will set up new purpose-built workshops at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster the business and economy class seats with new covers and cushioning.

First class suites, meanwhile, will be disassembled by the team but sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, armrests and other materials.

Emirates retrofit graphic

Emirates said that “No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking”.

“Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags,” the carrier continued.

The airline began trials on an A380 in July, with engineers taking each cabin apart piece-by-piece. Emirates said that “every action was tested, timed and mapped out”, adding:

“Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.”

The Gulf carrier also said that the trials unearthed several solutions. Existing food catering trucks, for instance, could be repurposed to move parts in need of refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop, as the vehicles had “doors of the right width and other sufficient space”.

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