‘Our vision is ‘Driving Comfort in the Sky’ says Timo Lenzen, Director of Engineering (America) at RECARO Aircraft Seating

Timo Lenzen
Timo Lenzen, Director of Engineering (America) at Recarco Aircraft Seating, discusses seat recycling concepts, ecofriendly seat production, and weight reduction. Continue reading to learn more about aircraft seats, its market and how the present geopolitical, economic, and market climate affects the sector.

At the end of the day, flexibility in all matters will be the key in my eyes.

Media 7: A pioneer in the field of data and research with expertise in development engineering, you've been working in this field for a long time. Please take us through your career journey and what has kept you motivated
Timo Lenzen: I started my journey at RECARO Aircraft Seating more than 20 years ago when I was selected at the age of 16 to join the apprenticeship program for a certified Industrial Mechanic. After several years working as an assembler on the final production line, I decided to pursue a diploma in Aeronautical Engineering. After graduation, I started my career within Research & Development as a Liaison Design Engineer at RECARO Aircraft Seating headquarters in Germany. I was then fortunate to take an expatriate assignment at our site in the Americas, which allowed me to expand my know-how in an international environment. While there, I worked in customer support as a Product Support Engineer wherein I learned how to handle modification projects and worked directly with airline customers. This prepared me for my next position as a Project Engineer where I was the technical lead for customization projects. After three years, I returned to Germany and took on a new role as a Platform System Manager.

This gave me the opportunity to step into my first team leadership role and was instrumental in setting me on my course for future career growth. In 2016, I was selected to become the Head of Platforms E/C and took over the global technical responsibility for all RECARO Economy Class, Premium Economy Class, and Short-Range Business Class platforms. In 2021, I stepped into the Director of Engineering at our Americas site, as a part of the executive leadership team. My motivation was and remains driven by many factors. RECARO is a strong family-owned company whose values are centered on developing and promoting employees to allow each employee to reach their maximum potential. I have always appreciated the company’s willingness to make an investment in my personal growth. The next significant factor is the strong RECARO brand recognition and our world-class seating products. I have been able to see the entire product development from the conceptual start of product, through engineering and testing and finally onboard a customer aircraft. This environment always motivated me to reach for the next target. Moreover, the aircraft seating business is a relatively small community of businesses which allows you to develop strong relationships with industrial colleagues, customers, OEMs, suppliers and other partners.

An added benefit is the international experience, which allows me to travel around the world and learn about different cultures, people and business practices. In a nutshell: Right company culture, right product, right industry, right business, identification, and diversity are very excellent motivators.

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Sustainability is front and center in our industry and has been anchored in the RECARO strategy for many years.

M7: How can the design of an aircraft seat be improved while still maintaining a high level of comfort?
TL: Comfort is the most importance for the passenger, so there is no doubt about why our vision is “Driving Comfort in the Sky”. However, there is much more than meets the eye in regards to comfort. Safety, quality, reliability, and weight are important factors for the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your direct customers, the airlines or OEMs. By prioritizing the innovation of new materials for a new seat design, in tandem with the requirement-based design approach, it generates opportunities for enhancement while still maintaining the high level of comfort.


M7: What sets RECARO Aircraft Seating apart from your peers?
TL: RECARO is a 100% seating business, and we are experts in this space with 50 years in aircraft seating and more than 100 years of overall seating experience. We have a global set-up and a strong brand, which is driven from our other seating business fields. We are known as the innovation leader with high engineering expertise, high quality, and reliable products. This not only from a product perspective, but also from a process perspective, which is proven by our delivery performance ratings given by the OEMs.

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Right company culture, right product, right industry, right business, identification, and diversity are very excellent motivators.

M7: Could you shed light on RECARO’s sustainability initiatives?
TL: Sustainability is front and center in our industry and has been anchored in the RECARO strategy for many years. It is the reason we are working on this topic in all facets of our company. Seat recycling concepts, weight reduction, paperless production, green energy, and energy consumption reduction are just a few examples of how far sustainability extends in our organizational mindset. We also partner with organizations such as EcoVadis to assess our current sustainable offerings and shape future opportunities.


M7: When it comes to developing components, what is your approach and go-to crucial strategy?
TL: RECARO is focused on requirement-based engineering. We use a disciplined approach and take the necessary time for the first phases of our product development process. This set-up generates a strong base which allows robust development and helps to eliminate unintended outcomes and/or delays. Sticking to our quality gates identifies early deviations and gives us an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments while ensuring we still reach our intended target.


M7: What are the challenges for the current airline industry as you oversee the global procurement in the areas that you work in?
TL
: The impact of the current geopolitical, economic situation and changes in market trends greatly impact our industry. There is a lack of stability in the supply chain, coupled with constraints in labor resources. These factors have combined to create an unstable environment resulting in the need to be creative and flexible in order to achieve our business goals. We also need to be mindful of changes in external regulations, policies and requirements in sustainability. Finally, the aerospace industry has been in a prolonged recovery period as opposed to other industries, which have recovered at a more accelerated pace. This has pushed us to prioritize recruiting and retention of our technical engineering resources. At the end of the day, flexibility in all matters will be the key in my eyes.

ABOUT RECARO

Recaro Aircraft Seating is a global supplier of premium aircraft seats for airlines and OEMs. The market leader in economy class seating is known for product innovation, award-winning customer service and “driving comfort in the sky.” As Recaro expands its global footprint, the family-owned company remains committed to reliability, efficiency, sustainable practices and supporting employee growth. Headquartered in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany, Recaro employs 2,100 people worldwide across its sites in China, Poland, South Africa and the United States, and earned 260 million euros in revenue in 2021. For more information, please visit www.recaro-as.com.

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RECARO Aircraft Seating

RECARO Aircraft Seating has made a name for itself among leading airlines as a supplier of innovative economy class and business class products. Today, the globally active company ranks among the world’s top three aircraft seat manufacturers, and offers a product portfolio perfectly tailored to the...

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