Inside the stark black interior with pipes traversing its sides, the Emirates A380 bore no resemblance to the opulent aircraft familiar to the world. Yet, it is here that transformation unfolds. The plane undergoes a comprehensive cleaning, repair, and installation of a contemporary interior. It was in 2022 when Emirates embarked on the world's largest retrofit project, a multibillion-dollar endeavor. This ambitious project involves meticulous work by the airline's engineering team to modernize the aircraft. Due to further delays in Boeing's delivery to Emirates, the retrofit project expanded earlier this year to include an additional 191 aircraft.

"The entire operation is conducted at our 500,000sqm facility," explained John Walker, VP for base maintenance at EK Engineering. "We have retrofitted about 30 aircraft so far, with the Boeing 777 retrofit commencing on Monday." Here's a glimpse into the retrofit process: Every element inside the plane is dismantled down to its basic black interiors. Both the interior and exterior are thoroughly inspected during this period, with the entire A380 retrofit process taking roughly 21 days. Experienced engineers meticulously disassemble and reassemble each cabin component, likened to piecing together a giant puzzle by Walker. Once the interior work is finished, the Business and Economy Class seats are repainted, re-trimmed, and re-upholstered with fresh covers and cushioning. In the First Class suites, leather, armrests, and other materials are replaced.

The seat covers, composed of 95% wool and 5% nylon, are disassembled by a skilled team of tailors and repurposed into various bags. These bags are then distributed to charitable organizations, schools, orphanages, and foundations across Africa and Asia. Emirates is committed to recycling and reusing materials, having repurposed over 50,000 kilograms to create thousands of handmade children's backpacks and school bags. After all upgrades are completed, the seats and new fittings are reinstalled, giving the plane a fresh appearance. Emirates is transitioning to a contemporary look with a lighter color scheme for the seats, replacing the traditional cherrywood with a lighter wood. Here's a comparison of the space before and after the upgrade. In addition to the retrofit, Emirates regularly services its planes and conducts rigorous safety checks. The pilot seats are inspected and cushioned for maximum comfort and safety. The emergency slides, designed for swift evacuation in emergencies, are also tested regularly. They must inflate within six seconds upon activation, a requirement verified at the Emirates engineering facility. Each plane is equipped with emergency supply packs containing a survival kit, including a high-protein bar, a flare for attracting attention if stranded, a survival manual, and a manual hand pump.