Our Cabin Catch Up interview series is where you will find insights from people within the cabin interiors industry.
This week we are joined by Jonny McGreevy, Head of Design, Thompson Aero Seating. With the launch of the new VantageSOLO onboard JetBlue aircraft, this was a perfect time to catch up and find out how they faced the challenges of 2020 and what they are looking forward to in 2021:
What has your journey been like with AIX?
Thompson’s journey has been one of exciting development and expansion. When we started exhibiting at AIX it was just as Thompson Aero Seating. In 2016, we were exhibiting as part of the AVIC group, having been acquired by AVIC International. In 2018, AVIC Cabin Systems (ACS) was formed, a group comprising AIM Altitude, FACC, Fesher, Jiatai, and Thompson. Visitors to our stand, and the stands of the collaborating companies, will have noticed our alliance becoming closer and more interwoven. AIX will be a chance for our full assimilation under ACS to be demonstrated, along with all the positive impacts that has for our airline customers.
How did your business manage through the challenging year of 2020?
We already had several contracts in place, including one to produce our VantageSOLO seats in a bespoke format for JetBlue’s Mint Suite. Working under Covid-secure conditions was of course a challenge at first, as it was for all companies, particularly those in manufacturing. We quickly put systems in place to allow our production to carry on while keeping our staff safe.
What positives have come out of 2020 for your business?
The VantageSOLO seats were designed to provide the world’s first fully flat bed for single-aisle aircraft but since Covid, their design has proven advantageous in many other ways too. The innovative reverse herringbone configuration of the VantageSOLO locates passengers away from the aisle and therefore minimises accidental contact with passengers and crew who are walking up and down the aisle.
When passengers are in the bed position for sleeping their head is away from the aisle, which reduces the likelihood of person-to-person transmission of any germs and improves their ability to get a good night’s sleep, with fewer disturbances.
We believe that the VanatgeSOLO will be popular among new airline customers for these aspects of Covid-security, along with the advantages of comfort, privacy, and the feeling of luxury.
What is it like to work with one of your partner companies on the delivery of the VantageSOLO?
Collaborating under ACS, Thompson worked with AIM Altitude to seamlessly integrate the premium front-row monuments with the VantageSOLO seat for JetBlue’s Mint Suite. With unified commercial and aftermarket teams, we are able to offer enhanced support for our OEMs and airline customers. Combining our expertise with other subsidiaries within ACS, like FACC, Fesher, and Jiatai has been a truly positive process and we are looking forward to more joint programmes in the ACS family.
What are you looking forward to showcasing this year?
The VantageSOLO will definitely be making an appearance. Single-aisle aircraft are a big focus for the industry and having the option of a fully flat bed is a huge boost for airlines. We have entered the VantageSOLO for a Crystal Cabin Award, so we will be keeping our fingers crossed on that front. We also have another exciting new seating innovation that we look forward to unveiling this year. Suffice to say, it will be a real game-changer for the industry.