To many people outside the industry, flooring within an aircraft may seem like a relatively simple element of a cabin’s interior. However, behind the colour, fabric and design are important considerations made towards sustainability within the manufacturing process – choices which have the power to affect a company’s social, financial and environmental objectives to a great extent.
Light as a feather
Another company aware of environmental pressures is Gerflor, which is based in France and has been manufacturing aircraft flooring since 1948. “We are recognized as a specialist and a world leader in resilient flooring solutions. Our company creates, manufactures and markets innovative, design-led and eco-responsible solutions for flooring and complementary interior finishes,” said Mélina Plassart, Aviation Product Manager at Gerflor. Gerflor developed what it says is the world’s lightest non-textile floor covering, called, Batiflex AV135. All Batiflex floor coverings offer superior anti-slip properties, dimensional stability, durability, ease of installation, cleaning and maintenance. “Qualified and selected as a standard baseline for the Boeing 787 program, the Batiflex AV 135 helps provide competitiveness and success to our customers – which include Air India, All Nippon Airlines, China Southern, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Hainan Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines and more, “ she said. According to Plassart, all of Gerflor’s products are developed with the intention to optimize the environmental impact at every stage of the product’s life, this is what the company calls, “from cradle to grave.” This process includes assessment of the manufacturing, installation, ongoing maintenance and recycling of the products as well.
Gerflor’s manufacturing facilities are ISO 14001 certified and the company only selects raw materials that contain no heavy metals, carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic components. When it comes to upcoming trends and predictions for the flooring sector within the aviation sector, Plassart told PAX International that wooden or decorative patterns will increase in popularity over time, and will definitely develop within the next few years. “This trend is noticeable at OEMs and in the retrofit market. Some regions of the world nevertheless remain quite conservative compared to others.”
Unique tape technology
Based in Bavaria, Germany, and now part of the Planatol Group of companies, BIOLINK was started by three chemists who were interested in what adhesive tape technology could compete with, based on a technical and performance level, but which could be far kinder and friendlier to the environment. It was 15 years ago that BIOLINK developed their proprietary 100% acrylic, solvent free, UV cured technology, and to this day it is the only company that produces its entire product range using this specific technology.
BIOLINK’s unique technology is based on one fundamental environmental principle: to produce and coat adhesives without chemicals that would harm the environment or employees. “We believe that every business has the responsibility to take care of the environment in a sustainable manner in every one of its production processes. We pursue this important principle, delivering our promise to take care of future generations while at the same time combining it with commercial interests,” said Andrew Jenner, Business Development Manager at BIOLINK.
“BIOLINK is happy to be ISO 14001 accredited, but for us, this is only the start. We will not use chemical components in our production that could be harmful for our employees, customers or the environment. Our technology only uses relatively small amounts of energy, no drinking quality water and we do not exhaust any by product into the air or the public water system,” Jenner told PAX International. BIOLINK has customers around the world, primarily in aerospace, automotive, and electronics industries and are highly regarded in the marketplace, for providing creative ideas for fixing, bonding and mounting challenges. “We remain very proud of the development work we did with AIRBUS, to design a new carpet tape (Relink 2318). This was very much a joint project, specifically to solve the problems associated with the more mature products in the market, such as residue upon removal, composite damage, residue removal by solvent and scraper, all of which cost significant time and money.” Relink 2318 remains the only carpet tape product used by Airbus and due to this good working relationship, BIOLINK and Airbus now have several other projects with tape products in progress. (Courtesy : Lauren Brunetti, Pax International)