What an excellent Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 we had!

Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 was a resounding success, providing an opportunity for Muirhead to address sustainability challenges in cabin interiors and engage with industry professionals. We showcased three ground-breaking, low-carbon leather innovations that exemplified Muirhead’s commitment to sustainable practices and circularity. 

Sustainability and circularity are at the core of everything we do, which is why we continue to set the benchmark as the lowest carbon impact leather available to the aviation sector – at just 8kg CO₂e/m². 

Together with our parent company, Scottish Leather Group, we have developed an industry-leading circular manufacturing process that involves sourcing all our rawhides locally, reclaiming energy from our process waste, and turning by-products into much-needed raw materials for other industries. 

The result is a high performance aviation leather that not only caters to the demands of both airlines and passengers but also empowers our customers to make a tangible impact on their own journeys towards net zero.”
Myles Hobbs, Head of Aviation EMEA / The Americas 

Muirhead's lightweight, self-disinfecting, and anti-soil natural leather products offer solutions to everyday cabin design issues while reducing tailpipe emissions and carbon impact.  

The path to net zero 

Leather, as an upcycled material derived from the food industry, inherently supports a circular economy. Muirhead recognises the importance of sustainable leather production and has continuously elevated standards in sustainability, ethics, and traceability. Our high performance leather is trusted by over 160 airlines and manufacturers worldwide. 

Muirhead's journey toward sustainability and net zero emissions began two decades ago when ambitious targets were set to reduce emissions and establish a circular manufacturing process. A comprehensive review of the entire production cycle paved the way for low-carbon, circular practices. 

Circular by design  

Collaborating with the wider Scottish Leather Group, we developed a cutting-edge circular manufacturing process that involves sourcing local rawhides, harnessing energy from process waste, and repurposing by-products for other industries. This transparent and traceable supply chain optimises our product’s carbon footprint at every stage, from farm to finish. 

Muirhead's circular approach ensures that energy embedded in process waste is reclaimed through our on-site Thermal Energy Plant, which converts waste into heat to power the tanneries. Additionally, our water ultrafiltration facility allows us to recycle 40% of wastewater, resulting in zero impact on water scarcity. 

The carbon intensity of Muirhead's leather per hide is the lowest globally, verified through an independently conducted Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) that considers raw material consumption, production, and end-of-life disposal. Muirhead's commitment to rigorous analysis leaves no room for "greenwashing." 

At Muirhead, innovation and sustainable development are deeply intertwined. With every new product innovation, we seek to further reduce our carbon footprint – while simultaneously empowering our airline customers to reduce fuel burn, maintain impeccable hygiene standards, and embrace lighter colours with confidence. 

Through two decades of sustainable innovation and substantial investments in our state-of-the-art facilities, we continue to push boundaries in sustainability, technical performance, and cutting-edge creativity. This is why we were thrilled to showcase our high-performance LightCore™, ActiveHygiene, and CareGuard™ products at AIX this year, and helping the industry overcome some of the greatest barriers to sustainable cabin design.”
Archie Browning, Sales Director at Muirhead  

Redefining aviation leather 

As an industry pioneer, we take great care to ensure our unwavering commitment to sustainable innovation is reflected in each of our high performance leather products. This is certainly true for the three products we showcased at Aircraft Interiors Expo, all of which were designed to complement the industry’s efforts to achieve net zero. 

When it comes to leather for seat covers, one of the key considerations is the weight of the material, as the aircraft’s take-off weight has a direct impact on its tailpipe emissions and fuel efficiency. However, many leather manufacturers have resorted to designing thinner materials to meet this need, resulting in inferior products with lower performance.  

At Muirhead, we revamped the entire process – from handpicking the finest hides to pioneering new manufacturing techniques – to design a lightweight product that does not compromise high performance, thickness, durability, or comfort. 

We showcased three high-performance leather products at AIX, each designed to complement the industry's efforts in achieving net zero emissions. Muirhead LightCore™ offers a reduced-weight, full-substance product that maintains durability, thickness, and comfort. The innovative tanning process reduces the weight of the leather by 33%, contributing to aircraft efficiency and lifetime weight savings for customers. 

Muirhead CareGuard™ is another innovation that addresses the need for seat cover longevity. It provides superior protection against soiling, staining, and UV light, extending the leather's service life and reducing maintenance requirements and cleaning costs. The flame-resistant and fluorocarbon-free properties make it a sustainable choice. 

Responding to the demand for enhanced seat hygiene, Muirhead introduced Muirhead ActiveHygiene, the first leather for aviation interiors with built-in antimicrobial properties. Polygiene BioMaster™ technology is permanently integrated into the material during the circular manufacturing process, resulting in self-disinfecting properties that reduce microbes by over 99% within 24 hours. This eliminates the need for additional sanitisation and supports faster turnaround times. 

Muirhead's high performance products have exceptional durability, with many carriers reporting using their seat cover for up to ten years. The easy maintenance of Muirhead leather with just mild soapy water and a damp microfiber cloth further highlights its advantages over plastics and fabrics, which require more frequent cleaning and replacement. 

Visitors to this year’s AIX could also learn more about the leather lifecycle, from raw materials to end-of-life recycling, and immerse themselves in Muirhead’s newest ReWilding design concepts. 

These ground-breaking innovations, combined with Muirhead's industry-leading carbon emissions figures, reinforce the company's two-decade commitment to responsible innovation. Muirhead remains at the forefront, setting the standard for low-carbon intensity leather in the aviation sector. 

Find out more about our innovations.