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AerFilm sofTouch® is an innovative new decorative laminate from Schneller. Designed to provide exceptionally low gloss and a luxuriously soft feel for premium airplane cabins and seating, it is more durable than current competitive products and easily passes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aircraft manufacturers' fire safety standards. The product was engineered at the request of a major domestic airline, and is now in full use in that carrier’s fleet. AerFilm sofTouch® has also been awarded by a second commercial airline, while other airlines are showing strong interest. The new material offers an appealing tactile quality and is available in a range of print, texture and color options; a boon to designers who value flexibility in their materials. The new product is lower-weight than incumbent materials, potentially opening the door to savings in fuel. While identical in appearance to premium soft furnishings now in use in the industry, AerFilm sofTouch® is entirely animal-free.

  • AerFilm sofTouch® Aircraft Decorative Laminates
  • AerFilm sofTouch® Aircraft Decorative Laminates
  • AerFilm sofTouch® Aircraft Decorative Laminates

This new technology draws on Schneller’s half century of steady innovation in aircraft interiors. The company was among the first in the early 1980s to introduce decorative laminates for airplane interiors that met new heat release and smoke density standards.

Decorative Laminates That Serve an Urgent Need

In business, products are often pushed to the marketplace in hopes of meeting a particular demand. But it’s so much better when the demand for an innovative product already exists, and motivated customers are clamoring for an answer.

In fact, the latter dynamic nicely describes the origin story behind our AerFilm sofTouch® product. In early 2018, a major domestic airline asked Schneller to develop a product that could possibly replace the synthetic laminates then in use in the interior of its aircraft. The incumbent solution was having trouble passing FAA fire safety tests, and the airline wanted a possible back-up option in place.

But just behind that immediate need loomed a larger secondary motivation for the airline industry. As commercial aviation moves toward more luxurious, premium-class cabins, operators want quality interiors that feel natural and offer a special tactile quality that add to a comfortable environment - without limiting their design choices. Of course, the challenge in aircraft interiors is to deliver on all these attributes while reliably passing the stringent FAA requirements.

Key Benefits of AerFilm sofTouch® Decorative Laminates

 

AerFilm sofTouch® is a durable, aircraft decorative laminate that consistently exceeds FAA requirements, satisfying the original customer’s immediate needs. But it also went far beyond that initial parameter, offering a range of additional benefits:

  • 20-30% lower-weight than many competitive materials, potentially resulting in savings on fuel.

  • Stain and abrasion-resistant with superior quality.

  • More durable and fade resistant when compared to other competitive laminate products.

  • Integrally colored base provides excellent resistance and panel protection, helping to minimize damaged surfaces.

Although materials now in use cannot be installed on intricately curved interior surfaces as with other AerFilm products, a next generation version of AerFilm sofTouch® is already under development, one that is formable onto three-dimensional parts.

Becoming the Decorative Laminate of Choice

Though it was originally proposed for the airline to consider as a back-up plan, AerFilm sofTouch® was met with such enthusiasm that it became the replacement material of choice, now in use in the business-class seats of a major airline’s Boeing 787 models as well as being selected by a second domestic airline for their Boeing 787 aircraft. As one airline official raved: “We were all really impressed with the finish. And I mean really impressed…It looks identical to the (synthetic leather) in terms of pattern…We tried to deface it, but it was really robust and much more resistant to damage."

  • AerFilm sofTouch® Aircraft Decorative Laminates
  • AerFilm sofTouch® Aircraft Decorative Laminates
  • AerFilm sofTouch® Aircraft Decorative Laminates

As word of this innovation spreads, other airlines have expressed interest, one of which, another major domestic carrier, having already formally selected the product for their cabins.

A Sustainability Advantage

AerFilm sofTouch® also offers a sustainability advantage.

What we’re learning is that our customer base is looking for a more animal-free product, because the typical competitor for this product is (leather),” says Schneller’s Samantha Stephens, a Business Unit Manager who has overseen the product launch.

 “As we worked to develop AerFilm sofTouch®, we chose to include a matte finish, which is really attractive to the airlines’ interior designers,” says Dr. Donald Meltzer, who oversaw technical development. “And then another attribute came to our attention—which is that it’s more slip resistant than the materials now in use.” That makes it an ideal material to use on the finish of tray tables, which can better resist sliding of food, drinks or electronic devices such as passengers’ cell phones while in flight.

The product is being installed during scheduled refurbishment cycles. At present, the material has been used in dozens of aircraft, but that is expected to mount into the hundreds in coming months. Thus far, AerFilm sofTouch® is flying on business-class seats, but is seeing interest for use on other surfaces. In fact, it was engineered for use in other areas of the plane as well, including trays and cocktail tables, partitions, bulkheads, bins and cubbies.

Attributes exhibited by AerFilm sofTouch® are shown in Table 1 and compared to an incumbent soft furnishing. AerFilm sofTouch® clearly outperforms the competitive material in terms of colorfastness, heat release and smoke density.

 

Test Units Test details Competitive soft
furnishing
AerFilm sofTouch®
Colorfastness to Light ΔE   0.92 0.14
OSU Peak kw/sqm SSCP* w/ PS-LHR 82 42
OSU Total kw-min/sqm SSCP* w/ PS-LHR 60 45
NBS (4 min)   SSCP* w/ PS-LHR 142 80
Smoke Toxicity CO max 1000 269 129
NOx max 75 8 4
SO2 max 75 8 6
HCN (ppm) max 1000 17 3
HCL (ppm) max 120 244 41
HF (ppm) max 75 119 81
Vertical Burn After Flame 2 ply phenolic
with PS-LHR
0 0
Drips 0 0
Burn Length 107 99

 

You can see our AerFilm sofTouch® at the Aircraft Interior Expo - Hamburg, Germany. April 2 - 4th Hall 5 Stand 5B20.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 4:37:00 PM

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GLOBAL REACH

Schneller is the global leader in providing comprehensive end-to-end solutions and worldwide on-demand customer service for hard-surface laminates, thermoplastic sheets and non-textile floor coverings for the Aviation and Rail interiors. Schneller is proud to be a qualified supplier to all major OEM airframe manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer, Sukhoi, Mitsubishi, and others.

We work with all major commercial airlines and all major Tier 1 suppliers, and we are a preferred supplier in the Airbus NTF Selection Guide and the exclusive supplier of the Airbus A350 Canvas Catalog. We are also proud to be the Primary supplier of the Bombardier C Series.

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    Air Mauritius
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    British Midland International
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    CAE Aviation
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    Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation
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