Qantas Opens New Hangar at Avalon

AVALON, 07 November 2003

Qantas and the Victorian Government today officially opened a new hangar at the airline's Avalon Airport base.

The $9.8 million refurbishment of Hangar 4 will see the facility utilised for the installation of the airline's new state-of-the-art sleeper seat, Skybed, on its Boeing 747-400 fleet.

Qantas Executive General Manager Engineering Technical Operations and Maintenance Services David Cox, said the completion of Hangar 4 and the extension of the Skybed project had already created nearly 160 new jobs (rising to as many as 300 by the end of 2006), some of which have been filled by former Ansett workers.

"Qantas has operated a heavy maintenance base at Avalon for a number of years now," Mr Cox said.

"The installation of Skybed began in Avalon's Hangar 5 in August this year, and our decision to set up this new facility was based on the excellent turn times achieved at the facility on earlier work to install the airline's new inflight entertainment system.

"This is testament to the high standard of both the Avalon facilities and the hard work and commitment of Qantas and Forstaff Aviation employees. It means that every Qantas Skybed will be installed onshore significantly faster than if the work had been undertaken overseas."

Qantas has worked closely with the Victorian Government on the establishment and subsequent expansion of the Avalon facility.

The enhancements have involved the extension of the existing hangar and the strengthening of its floor to cater for the size and weight of a Boeing 747-400 in a fully enclosed environment.

"The Skybed project brings the total number of employees based at Avalon to almost 700 and will provide a real boost for the local economy," Mr Cox said.

Skybed is the centrepiece of a $385 million investment in Qantas' International Business Class. Designed by Australian industrial designer Marc Newson and developed by USA based manufacturer BE Aerospace in association with Qantas engineering, it is 6 feet, 6.5 inches (199.4 cm) long and 23.5 inch (60 cm) wide when fully reclined to eight degrees.

Its features include a fixed cocoon-style seat surround to provide maximum privacy, extensive seat adjustment controls to ensure maximum comfort in any position, a large 10.4 inch (26.4 cm) screen with multi-channel entertainment and PC power that allows laptops to be plugged straight in without the need for adaptor cables.

Qantas' entire three class B747-400 fleet will be fitted with Skybed at Avalon over the next 12 months before the project extends to the two class B747 fleet. Ultimately, the new seat will be available in more than 30 aircraft.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (2985)