A little planning upfront can save you a lot of time and money
Elliott Aviation Cabinet Technician Team Lead
When you think of technology changes affecting your aircraft, your cabinets and woodwork may be the last thing on your mind. However, many modifications you are considering could benefit from upfront planning with the cabinet shop you are working with. Not only do new upgrades in laminates and veneers involve the cabinet technicians, but items such as audio visual mods (including wide screen monitors, DVD or BluRay players, sound systems and cabin management systems) all have direct involvement with your cabinet shop.
For example, we have many requests to either install or modify cabin monitors to accommodate high-definition, wide-screen displays. Depending on what type of aircraft you have and whether you currently have monitors installed, modifying your cabinets to accommodate wider screens may cause you to lose structure in your cabinets. If this is a potential issue, your cabinet technicians will need to determine how much structure will be left and whether it will pass inspection. If there is an issue, you could potentially still make the modification with some reengineering to the structure.
Another thing you may not take into account when installing monitors is seat height. Monitors placed directly over a seat will often get blocked by head rests and, if someone is sitting in that seat, they can completely block the screen. If you do not have room to place your monitor in a proper location, you can solve the issue by installing pull out monitors. .
In addition to monitors, when you install a DVD or BluRay player, subwoofer, or a cabin entertainment system close outs have to be fabricated in your cabinets to allow for access to easily serviceable components. When you are installing these accessories, you always have to keep in mind that you have to utilize every square inch of space while keeping everything looking nice.
In addition to the more technical components, more traditional changes to your woodwork or cabinets may have also evolved since you last made changes. Many older laminates have been discontinued. Since laminate cannot be repaired, the only option you have is to re-laminate. If your current laminate pattern is not available, you will either have mismatched laminate or will have to redo all of your cabinets. That is why for a longer-term solution I usually recommend veneer. Veneer typically lasts about 30% longer, has a stronger finish, allows you to repair scratches and offers you endless options as far as species. Laminate only really offer you a handful of colors.
Jay Scarff has been fabricating and installing cabinets since 1990. His vast experience includes custom fabrication for aircraft, commercial and residential construction and disaster restoration. Jay joined Elliott Aviation in 2006.
Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA) .
Are older business aircraft even sellable? And how old is OLD?
At the recent NBAA convention in Las Vegas, I sat in on several briefings about the state of aircraft sales and residual values. It was unanimous that older aircraft are not selling. No news there. It's been that way since 2008. What was interesting is the speakers' definition of "old."
I've been going with older than 15 years as "old" in terms of the ability to sell at a reasonable price within a reasonable amount of time. Age 15 also works with getting financing: The Aircraft Age + Length of Lease/Loan should not exceed 20 years. Age 15 allows for a five year financial deal. It seems like the new "old" is younger than that. And no, we can blame it on the Millennials. Blame it on the economic booms of the late 1990s and again in the mid-2000s.
An "old" business airplane is now older than age 10 in terms of maintaining a residual value and being sellable.
Glancing through the GAMA shipment database by year, business aviation saw significant increases in sales and deliveries during the past 15 years. Many manufacturers saw their sales double, peaking in delivery backlog in about 2008. Thus, there are a large number of relatively recent vintage airplanes available that are in the 5 to 15 year group, and especially aged 5 to 10.
The future air navigation systems that have been developing are in place or will be in the next decade. New or nearly new aircraft are either capable of using the full airspace, or can be easily upgraded. Older aircraft may not be so easily updated, especially older business jets that need the upper altitudes for efficient flight.
Older business aircraft, especially jets, have operating costs significantly higher than their new equivalents. A second or third overhaul on most turbine engines will be very costly due to retirement components within the engine. Unscheduled maintenance is also much higher for these older aircraft.
Lastly, emerging markets outside the US can, and do, purchase mostly new or newer aircraft. Developing nations are adopting the EASA regulations as it relates to aircraft aging issues. Some even place an age limit on imported aircraft.
So we have a large number of recently produced aircraft, many with updated avionic systems, that can be purchased for quite reasonable prices. Financial institutions have the money to lend, provided the credit is excellent. The 20 or 30-year old airplane costly to maintain, and sending them to a developing nation to sell isn't viable. These aircraft are just not selling. Let’s take a look at an example.
| Jet || Years produced || Percent Fleet For Sale || Average Days Listed For Sale |
| Gulfstream GIII || 1979-1987 || 18% || 828 |
| Gulfstream GIVSP || 1992-2002 || 13.56% || 375 |
| Gulfstream G450 || 2005-current || 7% || 239 |
You can buy a used GIII for under $1 million. But almost no one wants one even at that price. Newer GIVSPs and especially the G450 have a market.
One of the speakers referred to the oldest business aircraft as "Jurassic Jets." They are from a bygone era of cheap gas. They are not selling and the financial institutions do not want them on their books. From what the speakers say, and I agree, this is not going to change. Many of these aircraft are with their last owner.