UK seat manufacturer Acro Aircraft Seating has completed the move to a new facility almost double the size of its previous one to support ambitious expansion and development plans in the year ahead.
The manufacturer’s move from its former base near London Gatwick Airport to Crick, Northamptonshire, was “seamlessly accomplished within the last few weeks,” said CEO Neil Cairns, adding that the company is delighted to be in its “incredible new home,” which provides 100,000 square feet of space compared with just over 50,000 square feet at the old Crawley site. While the backdrop of the UK’s COVID-19 restrictions added complexity to the move, “the lighter than usual workloads” also allowed it to make the transition, he says.
“We are in an enviable position of confidence, fuelled by substantial investment and ambitious growth.” – CEO Neil Cairns
The move has brought the company a much-needed boost after the challenges of 2020, according to Cairns. “The physical move has re-energized our thinking on every front and, at a time when many businesses are forced to hunker down and wait for the economic storm to pass, we are in an enviable position of confidence, fuelled by substantial investment and ambitious growth,” he said.
After one of the hardest business years for the aviation industry on record, Acro is facing 2021 with confidence, “knowing we are perfectly positioned for the growth we have so meticulously planned,” Cairns said.
Like everyone in the sector, Acro saw a downturn in its business during the pandemic, but still secured a number of significant wins, including a Series 6 order from a Middle Eastern carrier and a Series 7 domestic business-class seat order from a new customer in Asia-Pacific.
Acro used the slowdown to plan further product development, including further weight reduction for the next generation Series 6 seats and an option for a lighter-weight metal seatback version. It is also looking at options for the Series 6ASP long-range economy-class seat with an articulating seat pan, including a footrest, six-way headrest, improved stowage and an in-arm recline mechanism or automotive-inspired spar mounted recline. Meanwhile, work continues on its redefined Series 7 domestic business-class seat.
Acro is also working with suppliers on developing cost-effective, sustainable and flexible anti-microbial solutions for passenger touchpoints on its seats, including upholstery, meal trays and armcaps, with a number of parts and materials already certificated, Cairns said. It has also developed a new off-the-shelf product for narrowbody aircraft offering a pre-designed seat specification with an expedited eight-week lead time.
Acro has used the move to introduce a raft of new processes aimed at increasing the quality of its seating products and delivering efficiency gains, Cairns said. The manufacturer has embraced lean principles and is implementing the Japanese Kaizen business philosophy, whereby operations continually improve and involve all employees in the process, with improvement in productivity seen as a gradual and methodical process.