Japanese LCC Vanilla Air has begun a cockpit conversion on its Airbus A320 fleet as it prepares for full integration into sister LCC Peach Aviation.

The scope of modifications includes the changing out the multi-function control and display unit (MCDU), radio management panels (RMP), transponder to Peach standards. SATCOM and ETOPS equipment will be removed from the Vanilla fleet. Externally, brake-cooling fans will also be installed. 

A Peach Aviation spokesperson told ATW that the impetus of the cockpit standardization is to improve safety for pilot and cabin crew, reduce the spare component for maintenance and reduce the administration load.

The modification work is carried out by Sepang Aircraft Engineering in Malaysia, a fully Airbus owned company. The first of 13 aircraft was ferried in April 12, and is expected to return by June. As Vanilla Air operations is still ongoing, the LCC can only deploy one aircraft at a time for the modification.

The spokesperson added that as the changes and modification work is significant, the airline decided to engage Sepang Aircraft Engineering as a certified Airbus MRO agent. While he did not reveal the investment value, he said it is work is “millions of US dollar” from the significant work. 

Parent airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced in March 2018 that it would merge Vanilla Air into Peach Aviation by the end of fiscal year 2019 (March 2020). In all, there will be 38 A320ceos following the merger. From FY2020, the LCC will begin delivery of 18 new A320neo, and two A321LR.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com