A flying classroom for the next generation of interiors specialists


Cranfield University’s National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC), is working with aircraft interiors specialist, Starling Aerospace, on a project intended to help train the next generation of aerospace engineers. The UK project, dubbed a ‘flying classroom’, immerses students from over 20 universities – and Cranfield – in the experience of their working environment when researching the aircraft cabin.

Working with the NFLC, Starling recently completed a six-month programme of modification and re-certification of all 35 seats in a Saab 340B aircraft, which is the university’s latest educational asset. The project required a bespoke installation programme for the fitment of computer tablets and other equipment to each seatback. Starling was responsible for the complete design, fabrication, modification, re-certification and installation process.  

The Saab 340B will operate from Cranfield’s Global Research Airport in Bedfordshire, helping create new research capabilities, including projects which test the development of advanced aerospace technologies and flight operations. 

 Starling’s co-founding director, Coralie Wigg, said of the project, “Supporting Cranfield’s training programme of future aerospace engineers has made this an exceptionally rewarding undertaking for Starling and one that required a complex array of technical challenges to be overcome, regarding bespoke design, parts manufacture and stringent re-certification.”

Richard Jones, aircraft technical manager at NFLC added, “Starling Aerospace delivered a fantastic ‘future proof’ solution to accommodate the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets in the headrests of the Saab 340 cabin seats, for our flying classroom tutorials. We were equally impressed with the durability and finish of the synthetic leather together as with the high standard of workmanship achieved by the whole Starling team.”

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About Author


Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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