Emirates Boeing 777 ER
Emirates will start with the A380 retrofits and then move onto the 53 Boeing 777s in its fleet. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Emirates has 'kickstarted' plans to upgrade the entire interiors of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 A380s are back in service, the 53 777s will undergo their facelift.

This will see nearly 4,000 brand new 'Premium Economy' seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded when the project is complete in April 2025.

"No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking," said an Emirates statement. "Therefore, Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags."

Set up workshops first

As part of time-bound project, new and purpose-built workshops will come up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class 'suites' will be disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.

“From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space,” the statement added.

“Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.”

Stock - Emirates Retrofit
Image Credit: Supplied
Go through with retrofit trials
Trials began on an A380 aircraft in July, where Emirates' engineers 'literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step'.

"From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out," the airline said. "Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address."