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Why Color Matters for Airline Interiors—and How to Get it Right

airline seats

Datacolor Ebook: Fundamentals of Color

OEMs, component manufacturers, materials manufacturers and retrofitters: How confident are you in your ability to consistently deliver on your customers’ high quality standards—while staying on-time and on-budget? Color and quality often go hand-in-hand, but getting it right can be a difficult and expensive challenge.

Below, we’ll explore how the right digital color tools can help streamline the commercial airline design process.

The Reality of Aircraft Interior Design Today

Completing a commercial airline interior tends to look something like this:

  1. A single aircraft interior can have thousands of components, from seat fabric, to bulkheads to sidewalls to paint and many smaller details that all need to be coordinated.
  2. Cabin updates come with a hefty price tag and an equally hefty time commitment: In 2018, Singapore Airlines spent $350 million for new products for its 787-10s. Meanwhile, design and implementation on Emirates’ reconfiguration project for its 777-200LRs took over 16,000 man hours for design and implementation.
  3. Quality and consistency are critical—down to the last detail. This article about Lufthansa’s premium economy seat design emphasizes the role color played in distinguishing the seats from those in economy and those in business class.
  4. Flame, smoke, and toxicity requirements mean each piece of material is extremely costly. Aircraft carpet alone can cost $2,000 per square yard
  5. Maintaining the appearance of an aircraft interior is an ongoing process since different components require replacement at different times
  6. Incorrect colors during manufacturing can cause delays and easily lead to hefty overnight shipping fees and aircraft-on-ground charges, pushing a project far over budget
  7. Consumer brand perception matters now more than ever. Anyone can go online and broadcast their flight experience to the world

Getting an aircraft interior completed is a tedious, time-consuming process. This process might be smoother if each component of an aircraft existed in a vacuum, but that is far from the case.

Everything must be coordinated seamlessly (while meeting budget and timeline expectations). Doing this coordination across a wide range of materials throws an added challenge into the mix. The end goal may be to have the color in your first-class lavatory coordinated with the color on your first-class seats, but the color composition required to achieve a match changes from one material to the next.

Why Visual Color Evaluation Leads to Expensive Roadblocks

Did you know that each of these factors impacts our perception of color?

  • Lighting
  • Altitude
  • Noise
  • Age
  • Medication
  • Stress level
  • Eye fatigue

With multiple component and materials manufacturers working on a single project, this can quickly lead to color discrepancies that delay production and cause a chain reaction for everyone involved—all the way to the airline and its customers.

An Easier Way: How Digital Color Tools Can Help

But what if there was a way to remove the risk of human error and the time-consuming process of visually evaluating colors that comes with it? What if you could turn objective color decisions into subjective ones for everyone involved in your latest project—from the planning stages all the way to completion? What if communicating about color was streamlined and clear every step of the way?

That’s where digital color management comes into play.

While the example we’re about to share is certainly a “worst case scenario,” even smaller roadblocks can be avoided with the right digital color tools: Imagine you’re working on a new aircraft OEM program and you don’t have a way to digitally assess colors. Because of this, you don’t have a subjective process to determine if a given color passes or fails. Then your flooring arrives and the color isn’t right.

You’re forced to shut down production and redo the flooring, then air freight it and hope it’s correct the second time. This can easily rack up $10,000 to $20,000 in charges. Delaying flooring delays the components that come after it. In turn, this delays delivery of the aircraft to the airline, which comes with hefty aircraft-on-ground fees. In the case of extreme delays, it can also force the airline to cancel flights.

We Want to Help You Get Color Right the First Time—Across All Components

The way we see it, color management tools can dramatically change the game for aircraft interior projects. With the right approach, the potential time and cost savings are significant. And we want to help you make that a reality.

From fabric to plastic to paint, we’re here to help answer your questions, overcome your current challenges, and be with you every step of the way as you transition your color evaluation from subjective to objective.

Ready to discuss color in the commercial aviation industry? Send us an email and we’ll connect you with a member of our team.

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