| Keeping Downtime to a Minimum
Tony Morris of Elliott Aviation, Interior Shop Manager
Many times when older aircraft change hands or have original interiors, a cabin reconfiguration is desired, such as adding a divan, a cabinet or changing the club seating arrangement. When considering a cabin reconfiguration, communication with your interior refurbishment facility on the front end of the project is key. By communicating your needs and wants with your interior facility ahead of time, the facility you choose will be able to tell you what options you have, an accurate aircraft downtime and what those options will cost.
Any time you make a modification to the interior of an aircraft, consideration has to go into more than aesthetics and comfort level. For instance, every time you move cabin seating, you need to consider not only the seat itself, but the seat track location and the oxygen box locations and egress for emergency exits. Reconfiguring your seating arrangement might require a headliner modification to accommodate more oxygen masks. If you are removing a cabinet to accommodate more seating, you again need to have access to oxygen masks, requiring a modification to the headliner. Items like air gaspers and reading lights need to be considered.
Structurally, modifications to the aircraft might also include power, drainage and adding support when you are installing a cabinet over a location that used to house a seat. Switching out window shades might also require structural modifications to the aircraft. Also, keep in mind that if you want something that is not a factory approved layout or an STC approval has not been previously acquired for your aircraft, the development and approval of an STC may be required meaning additional cost and downtime. Keep in mind not all configurations may receive approval so advanced notice is critical.
If your cabin happens to have 16G seats like CJs, XLS, Citation X and others, these seats have to be built to STC standard which includes fire blocking and other requirements. Because of additional guidelines, 16G seat rebuilds alone typically require an additional two to three weeks of downtime. Plating is another factor that can affect your downtime. There is a misconception that plating can be polished but in reality can only be cleaned. Pitted or corroded plating cannot be polished or cleaned. It needs to be replaced. Plating is typically sent out but can be worked in parallel to the rest of the project, so knowing what you want early should not affect the downtime.
Some hand-tufted carpets can also affect your downtime as many higher-end carpets are made to order and could take up to 12 weeks to arrive. Again, this will have minimal if any effect on your downtime if chosen early.
Tony Morris began working on aircraft in 1985 as an Aircraft Exterior Paint Stripper at Byerly Aviation in Pekin, IL. In 1988, he started installing aircraft interiors at Aero Services. Tony joined Elliott Aviation in 2001 as a cabinet maker and became the cabinet shop lead in 2005. He was promoted to Interior Supervisor in 2007 and then to Interior Manager in 2011.
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).