Air Transport World

Combination carts create controversy. (airplane food carts)

Combination carts create controversy Whether you call it Singl-Serv or Omni or Combi-Cart or New Tech or Ultra Serve, the cart that cooks is this year's most-talked-about item of inflight food service equipment--and the comments are both favorable and derogatory.

TWA began using PTC Aerospace's Singl-Serv two years ago on its Boeing 747s, and liked it well enough to install that cart and a similar one called Omni from C&D Plastics on its Boeing 767s a year ago and on its Lockheed L-1011s last November. United will put Lermer's Combi-Cart, which the airline calls New Tech, into service in May on McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10s and has specified the same system for the 110 new Boeing 737-300s that will begin entering its fleet in November and for new 747s; the 737-300 program is the first use of combination carts on single-aisle aircraft. JAL will put Singl-Serv into operation on 767s this summer. Other carriers are testing combination carts, and other manufacturers are developing new versions.

But there also are airlines and cart manufacturers who are perfectly willing to let the bandwagon pass them by. Nordskog Industries says "absolutely not" when asked if it intends to get into the market. American Airlines prefers its own combination system wherein racks of entrees are heated in convection ovens and then transferred into a compartment in the top of the serving cart. "We think we've already gained the productivity that's being claimed for the new carts," says P.A. Napolitano, manager-cabin equipment design. "And those carts cost five to six times more than one without electrical equipment."

Of course, many airlines are waiting to see how combination carts perform for United. That carrier is making the switch as part of a major modification of its 36 DC-10-10s that includes removing lower-deck galleys to free up valuable cargo space. Lermer won the contract to provide the carts after a fly-off with PTC.

More space for seats

Lucille Donegian, United's manager of inflight service and equipment planning, says the decision to go with combination carts was made "because we have been very anxious to find a more efficient way to deliver the food to the passenger. …

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