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Four planes a month: Inside Emirates’ massive A380 and 777 upgrade

Home Articles Four planes a month: Inside Emirates’ massive A380 and 777 upgrade

Four planes a month: Inside Emirates’ massive A380 and 777 upgrade

By Joanna Bailey 17 Aug 2022 Simple Flying – link here to read the full article with images and graphics

Emirates has today provided additional detail on the planned multi-billion-dollar upgrade of its widebody fleet. The upgrade will bring many of its Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s up to a new standard of comfort, with new seats, finishes, and flooring for added luxury in the sky. The project will refresh 120 aircraft in total – 67 Airbus A380s and 53 Boeing 777s – and will take the airline almost two and a half years to complete.

Beginning in earnest in November 2022, the refit will see over 1,000 first class seats and 37,000 economy class seats retrimmed and refurbished. Alongside this, almost 7,000 business class seats will be upgraded to a new style and design, and 2,640 brand new premium economy seats will be installed across the fleet.

Emirates has recently revealed a $2 billion upgrade for its soft product offerings, which will complement this hard product refresh to maintain its position as one of the most luxurious airlines in the world. The airline is handling the refit itself, and is targeting the completion of four planes a month between November and 2025.

What’s Emirates doing to the airplanes?

The airline is undertaking one of the most ambitious refits seen in the history of aviation. All in, 120 airplanes will be furnished with new seats, new carpets and stairs and newly designed interior cabin panels. The entire project will take almost 900 days, and is set to complete in 2025.

The airline is targeting refitting four aircraft every month. First to be refitted will be the 67 Airbus A380s, adding new premium economy to the cabin configuration as well as an improved business class and a full refresh of First. Once the A380s are done and back in service, the airline will commence the refit of the 53 Boeing 777s, which will also be getting premium economy.

The project is being handled in-house, and the airline has recruited some 190 engineers for the project. Each aircraft will be completed in an impressive 16 days, with 1,000 man hours being spent each day to achieve this goal. Purpose-built workshops are being constructed to help the team repaint, retrim and prepare all the parts for refitting to the airplanes.

To work with such incredible efficiency, the Emirates engineering team has been planning and testing its processes to iron out any snags, and to ensure the team can work in the most streamlined manner.

The airline’s engineering team has been hard at work planning for optimal efficiency of the refits.

Using catering trucks to deliver components

Emirates undertook a trial refit in July using an Airbus A380, where every action was timed and tested to see if the 16-day goal was achievable. Any hold-ups were documented and reviewed by the team so that, when the project starts in earnest in November, everything is as smooth as butter.

Refitting a single A380 as a trial has allowed Emirates Engineering to streamline all processes. Photo: Emirates 

An interesting finding emerged from the trials, in that the airline’s existing food catering trucks were the ideal size and capacity to transport parts from the workshop to the aircraft. Thanks to the space available on these trucks, a simple repurposing will see parts of the fleet delivering not delicious food and drink to the planes, but instead panels, seats, and other parts ready for refit.

Over the course of the A380 refit, Emirates will use some 40,000 square meters of carpet, 68,000 kg of paint, 40,000 square meters of leather, and 67,000 square meters of fabric. On the Boeing 777s, more than 50,000 square meters of fabric, 32,000 square meters of carpet, 30,000 square meters of leather, and 40,800 kg of paint will be used.

Every cabin will be upgraded to the new style and design, with all 120 aircraft offering premium economy for customers to enjoy. Emirates indicated that premium economy will be available initially on routes to London, Paris, and Sydney, with more expansions to come as the planes roll out of refit.

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