At almost 1,000 degrees Celsius, yellow-orange flames shoot out of the blowtorch to a length of some 30 centimeters. For nearly two minutes now, the flames have been relentlessly barbecuing the aircraft seat from the left-hand side. Then, after precisely 120 seconds, the torch goes out. Any remaining pockets of embers are immediately extinguished and a light veil of smoke fills the test cabin. Once it clears, we can see the extent of the damage. How much remains of the seat cushion, backrest and cover will decide whether or not this particular mix of materials will get its wings. As per FAR/CS 25.853, the flammability regulation that applies to Europe and the United States, the fire must not spread more than 43.2 centimeters from the source. That’s the width of the narrowest aircraft seat.
“All textiles used in aircraft cabins must be flame-retardant,” says Daniela Grunder, Director Brand Communication & Product Management at Lantal Textiles AG. Based in Langenthal, Switzerland, the company specializes in fabrics for the aviation industry and manufactures products including seat covers, carpets, curtains and wall coverings. All the major aircraft manufacturers as well as more than 300 airlines—including Swiss Air, Lufthansa, Delta and China Airlines—place their trust in the expertise of this company located in the Canton of Bern. This makes Lantal a world leader in its industry.