Spanish operator Iberia is getting ready to start a retrofit program for 17 Airbus A340-600s next year, which is scheduled to start in mid-October 2012 at its Madrid maintenance facility.

Each aircraft will take about four weeks to complete, says Eugenia Nieto de Antonio, the engineering project manager for cabin interiors and IFE upgrades at Iberia. The airline plans to complete all of the modifications in-house at its Madrid maintenance facility.

“They are currently in the same status that they were in the time of the delivery of the aircraft, so this will be their big modification,” says Nieto, who adds that the average age of the fleet is about four years. Iberia will retire its A340-300 fleet when new A330-300s begin to arrive in 2015, but the A340-600s will stay in service at least until those deliveries start rolling in.

“The cabin will be completely different in image,” says Nieto. The only thing that will remain is the concept of the two-class cabin.” The aircraft will have a business-class and a standard economy cabin, although the total number of business-class seats will rise from 42 to 46 after the modification. New lighting, seats and an upgraded inflight entertainment (IFE) system will be part of the retrofit.

Iberia has opted for the Weber 5751 model in economy class, but it will use Sogerma seats for business class. These fully flat seats are 77 in. long when completely extended. Economy seats will have an IFE screen in each seatback. Iberia plans to update the Panasonic 3000i system on the A340-600s and is targeting the Panasonic eX2 IFE system as a replacement.