Acro Tag

John Ward Q&A

John Ward - Commecial Director

The Acro team is looking forward to joining the worldwide cabin interiors industry once again when we participate at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, from 28th-30th May 2024 at Hamburg Messe.

And, ahead of AIX 2024, we’re jumping into the hot seat for a short Q&A session with some of our key players to find out a bit more about what makes them tick.

First up is John Ward, who joined Acro in October 2022 as Commercial Director.

His role is to support Acro’s commercial team to drive sales and profitability. He also plays an active and key role within the executive team.

We caught up with John recently for a chat…

How did your career start and how has the sector evolved since?

I am very new to seating, having joined Acro in 2022 after almost 30 years in the aerospace and defence sector.

I am constantly amazed at how complex the whole design, certification and testing process is, but at Acro, we have all that capability at our site in Crick.

This means we can pivot when new opportunities present themselves and ensure we are moving the business forward with new and innovative products.

How is Acro different to other aircraft seating manufacturers and what has your role been in achieving this?

The sector has been dominated by three multinational companies with billions in revenues. We are winning business because we are coming at it from the opposite end of the spectrum, in that we are much smaller in terms of size and people.

We are large enough to cope with major contracts, but small enough to take pride in winning and growing our business.

We also have a major advantage, in that our parent company has invested heavily in supply chain, so we have four factories dedicated to producing Acro designed parts.

And that helps us control lead times and ensures we have spare parts available.

What do you like most about working in the aircraft interiors industry, and what motivates you to keep on striving for more within the sector?

No two days are the same at Acro. I like the people and the variety and particularly enjoy meeting airlines and getting into final bids for their RFQs.

In the Series 9, we know we have the best economy class seat on the market right now – and being able to sell the space, weight, comfort and recyclability over being the cheapest seat in the market is hugely rewarding.

We have won numerous contracts since AIX last year and we win on features, reputation and reliability, NOT on cost.

2023 was a stellar year for Acro wasn’t it? Can you tell us about a few of the deals you and your team have struck since AIX last year?

Our launch customer was just taking delivery of the first shipset of Series 9 whilst AIX was happening. Since then, we’ve signed contracts with Deutsche Aircraft and three significant deals in terms of numbers.

We’ve been certifying the recline version of Series 9 over the last nine months and the launch customer for that has just received their first shipset.

We are in negotiations with other airlines at present, so I believe that 2024 is going to be even better year for Acro.

What are you looking forward to most at AIX 2024?

We’re launching an updated version of our Series 7 business class seat.

It is lighter and has more features than the original and our industrial design team and our engineers have created, what I think, is a beautiful looking and incredibly comfortable seat.

We’re also launching Innovares, which is a premium economy seat that we developed after showing a concept version to select airlines last year. We have taken that feedback and created, what we think, is a fabulous product.

You are somewhat of a musician aren’t you, John? Can you tell us more about that?

I’ve been playing guitar and singing since I was 12. Over the years I have written for bands, theatre and performed at some very cool festivals.

I also wrote and produced a musical called MacPhersons Rant which was part of the Edinburgh International Festival in 2019.

Tell us something that we might not know about you…

I got involved with my local professional football team back in 2015; they needed a sponsor and one of my businesses stepped in. The club were relegated that year and their then owners effectively abandoned the club.

I worked with a committee made up of fans and sponsors to keep the club from going into administration. That same year the club were promoted to the Scottish Championship and the following season were promoted to the Scottish Premiership, through the playoffs.

They have remained there for the past five seasons despite being a small community club, with the lowest budget in the league.

It’s been a real rollercoaster…