Boeing Co. will extend its collaboration with aircraft-seat maker EnCore, helping to develop an alternative supplier of cabin fittings after bigger players including Zodiac Aerospace suffered a series of production stumbles that have held back plane deliveries.

After selecting the LIFT by EnCore economy-class berth for its 737 narrow-body jet, Boeing has chosen a new model for the twin-aisle 787 Dreamliner, the companies said Tuesday at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The seat is scheduled to be available to customers by early 2019.

“It’s not a secret that there have been challenges in the seat industry,” Beth Anderson, Boeing’s vice president for payloads and systems, supplier management, said in an interview at the German trade fair. “It’s not just Zodiac. There isn’t enough capacity.”

Boeing’s expansion into helping to supply what’s usually regarded as “buyer-furnished equipment” — chosen directly by airlines — is a further sign that it’s intent on taking whatever steps are necessary to avoid production delays. Planemakers and suppliers are coming under pressure as they seek to boost output to record levels after running up order backlogs that stretch for years.

‘Different Concept’

Holdups at Plaisir, France-based-Zodiac have already delayed handovers of Boeing 777-300s to United Airlines, while issues with seats and lavatory blocks stymied production of Airbus Group SE’s A350 model.

The 737 seat from Encore’s Huntington Beach, California-based LIFT unit found its first customer three months after the Boeing partnership was announced in April 2016, with the initial delivery scheduled for October this year, Anderson said, without disclosing the airline’s name. Such a timescale represents a “really accelerated schedule,” she added.

“It’s a different concept, where we take an airplane and design a seat,” the executive said. “We’d be contracting with LIFT for the seat, so you get the benefit of the Boeing-supplied piece of equipment, but the airline can still negotiate the pricing directly.”

Airbus said separately that it will establish a new unit to support airlines in their cabin-development plans. The Airbus Interiors Services business will draw on the expertise of the company’s corporate-jet arm and focus on bespoke products, aircraft upgrades and innovations such as a ceiling stowage area devised for the A320 jet, according to an announcement at the Hamburg show.

–With assistance from Julie Johnsson

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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Photo Credit: EnCore, a newcomer to the airline seat market, will make new seats that airlines can add to the Boeing 787. This could make it easier for carriers to source the seats they need. EnCore