Optimum to exhibit at AIX Hamburg for first time

In this Q&A ahead of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, Inflight Magazine speaks with David Rice, the owner of Optimum Aero, whose company has managed a multitude of cabin interior projects for commercial airlines, lessors, private customers and aftermarket suppliers.

At the 3-day event in Hamburg next month, Our director David Rice will be a CabinSpace Live panellist, discussing the topic “Cabin refurbishment :investing to impress”. The repurposing of serviceable interior parts will be a talking point as the industry is challenged with cost reduction and more sustainable operations, which includes the refurbishment of aircraft cabins.

Optimum Aero specialises in providing refurbished aftermarket interior parts with a consultative approach, working with leading EASA Part 145 and Part 21G/J accredited MRO companies.

The company’s work includes, cabin retrofit project management and procurement, seat design, configuration and parts supply, repair management and parts refurbishment, as well as lease inspections, estimates and transitions and for new aircraft, BFE (Buyer Furnished Equipment) supplier selection and management through to aircraft delivery.

To find out about the company’s recent projects, Inflight spoke with David Rice, who previously worked as an Aircraft and Project Design Engineer at British Airways and as Cabin Customisation Director at Airbus.

What kinds of commercial aviation projects has Optimum Aero been working on?

“Right now, we are working for a recently launched, high-end airline, which is buying an aircraft for the aftermarket, this is their second project. On this, we are working with a modification company which has been assigned to create the new LOPA (Layout of Passenger Accommodation) to install full business class seating. It’s being converted from an old two-class layout to a complete business class interior.

For this project, we will be supplying all the parts they’re removing to allow more space for the brand new seating. For example, the forward galley will be removed and we are refurbishing and supplying the parts that go in the gaps created by the removal. We have refurbished all sidewalls to match with the aircraft, as well as refurbished and painted the overhead parts. This is typical of the kind of project we work on all the time.”

What are the benefits of using refurbished serviceable parts in cabin interior projects?

“The main benefit is cost, and the second benefit is lead time. To buy a new OEM-manufactured sidewall, you’re probably looking at a minimum of 90 days from Airbus or Boeing, possibly longer. We can turn it around in four weeks, providing we have the stock. The good thing is that in the surplus market, we can very often find parts quite easily due to our network of trusted suppliers.”

What trends are popular right now in future cabin refurbishments?

“We are in a very niche part of the market and there are certain things we are seeing in demand. For example, in the light panels above the passengers, there used to be the “non-smoking” and “fasten seatbelt” signs, but now, as the future trends for aircraft are changing, there are requests to have a “no PED” light. Companies come to us for these kinds of specific things that are needed in the background in every refurbishment project.

When it comes to specific aircraft, we see a lot of volume on Airbus projects. However, we are also seeing a lot of turnaround of Boeing 737-800s from airlines. There is high demand for passenger to freighter conversions currently.

With sustainability very much in the agenda, it is important that within the cabin, we repurpose what we can. Effective use of refurbished parts can save airlines money, as well as being more environmentally friendly, and items being recyclable is also important. This applies to all items within the cabin, including seating, and we often include these considerations within our projects.”

Optimum Aero will be exhibiting at AIX 2024.