All posts tagged 'Interior' - Page 2

Shedding Light on Advancements in Cabin Illumination

By Adam Doyle, Paint & Interior Sales Manager

Lighting is one of the most important elements of cabin design. It serves multiple functions like providing safety, assistance in performing tasks, creating an atmosphere, and in general pulling together the overall design. Understanding cabin lighting technology can assist in making the right decision for your cabin.

At first cabin lighting choices may seem relatively simple, but with recent advancements there are a large amount of new lighting technologies to choose from. This is a great thing for aircraft owners and operators because lighting can make a big difference in the upgrade of a cabin and cost considerably less than other available upgrades.

The cost of upgrading lighting varies depending on the specific aircraft model and the choice of upgrades. Manufactures are providing multiple options for almost all different airframes.

LED Technology
The recent influx in lighting advancements is no surprise to the industry because consumer electronics drives what goes into an airplane. As new options are available in the consumer market they are adapted into the aviation market as well.

Recently in the consumer market there has been a rapid rate of Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology change being driven by the idea that the brighter, the better. This has created new advancements for aviation, too.

Most general aviation aircraft with any kind of up-wash or down-wash lighting come from the factory with Compact Fluorescent Lighting. The problem with CFL is consistency and long term cost for replacement bulbs and/or power supplies. Don’t forget about the labor involved and potential for damaging interior components that comes with replacement.

LED Lighting
Generally, when deciding to upgrade cabin lighting, the choice is more often than not whether to make the change to LED lighting. LED technology is typically the line between newer and older generation aircraft. Lamp brightness, color, power consumption, heat management, and lamp lifetime are a few of the main differences between the two technologies.

Problems with individual power supplies, hot ballasts and individual bulb replacement are nearly eliminated with an LED option. Also, when a CFL bulb burns out it is easily noticed, but when individual diodes fail at different times within an LED cluster, they contribute incrementally to illumination decline.

LED technology also offers an overall 50 to 75 percent power savings for an aircraft lighting system. This means problems with individual power supplies, are virtually eliminated with LED.

The technology has safety and aesthetics benefits, too. LEDs are shock resistant, emit low heat, and have no bulb breakage. Also, they emit color consistency and a brighter light. Prior to installation you can even pick different colors as several manufacturers are also beginning to offer optional colored lights.

However there are different LED options or upgrades.

Plug & Play
A major switch the industry is seeing is from incandescent bulbs for reading lights to LED plug and play. The major benefit is cost savings. This option allows you to retain the original fixture. When replacing the fixture don’t forget you’ll incur labor and plating fees along with light longevity.

With plug and play you can pull the face off the light, unplug one bulb and plug the new one in. Plug and play lights are also easy to replace. Once done, that’s the last time you will ever replace it. This means when converting to LED you don’t have to rewire the whole plane and you can do it as needed instead of all at once.

It typically costs anywhere from $300 to $600 to replace just one CFL bulb. On top of that, there is also labor. CFL bulbs have a much shorter life span than LED so it needs replaced when the LED typically does not.

Unlike CFL, LED lighting is relatively maintenance-free once installed. The technology has a considerably longer life than florescent bulbs. At about 500,000 hours, the useful life of an LED is roughly five times that of an incandescent light, according to IDD Aerospace.

This saves labor, materials, and downtime. There is more initial investment for the plug and play LED technology but when it comes to the overall life of the aircraft, LED out performs and will cost less.

Self-ballasted lights are another LED upgrade. Un-ballasted lights run off of the aircrafts power supplies while self-ballasted lighting provides its own power. The owner can get rid of extra power supplies because it has its own power.

The need for less power supplies creates a weight savings, which leads to less fuel usage.

Disadvantages of LED
While offering many advantages, LEDs also present challenges to operators. The rapid rate of LED technology change in the consumer market brings concern to the aviation industry. The idea that brighter is better is driving components to be replaced or updated at a rapid rate. This kind of change rate creates parts obsolescence for the future.

Choosing a source for a particular aircraft interior lighting task ultimately is not as simple as it may seem. Before making a decision it’s best to evaluate all of the options and pick which one is best for the specific aircraft and use.

Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation Adam has experienced many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.

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). More information can be found at

Do-It-Yourself Interior

Shawn Botts

Each aircraft owner has his or her own level of involvement in the aircraft ownership process. Some simply enjoy flying their airplanes and may do simple upkeep like GPS updates. Others, like myself, enjoy getting much more involved and saving money through owner assisted annuals and various other "do-it-yourself projects."

I have a mechanically inclined background. Some of my fondest memories of childhood were working in my dad’s aircraft maintenance shop. In 2011, I bought an ugly duckling S35 Bonanza knowing it had opportunities to partake in these projects. One of the first projects I took on was refurbishing the interior.

A good interior can be the deciding factor on whether a passenger is comfortable or not in the aircraft. I could see the look on passenger’s faces when they walked up the wing walk and saw what they were going to be sitting in. I personally knew I had a great running airplane, but my interior didn’t project that image. I constantly told myself, "I can’t believe someone willingly wanted this interior!"

About six months after purchasing the airplane, I began searching for interior options. When I decided It was time to do the interior I knew I wanted it to be a hands on project. A few companies, such as Airtex, offer many "do-it-yourself" options with fantastic results. I decided to purchase my carpets from them. They have templates for just about any interior component you need. It was a very simple process because of Airtex’s great customer service. The carpets were very affordable and look great. I also bought bulk carpet from them to refurbish the kick panels. The next task was working on the side panels.

I have friends who have high end custom interiors and I have always wanted one but could not justify the 20 and 30 plus thousand dollar price tag. I also didn’t want to simply recover the old battered panels either. This led me to one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, Tim Hallock, owner of Aviation Design. Tim specializes in Beechcraft interiors and at one time was an OEM for the Bonanza and Baron lines. I met with him at Oshkosh and talked about his mail order products. He told me I had the second ugliest interior he had ever seen.

Tim’s signature side panels bring a very modern look to Bonanzas and Barons. I knew I had to have them. So Tim and I began figuring out how we could make a great interior without having the airplane in his hangar. We decided to use my old interior as a template to make new panels. I sent my old panels off to California and just a few days later Tim was calling back with the tracking number for my new panels. They arrived a few days later and all that was left were the seats.

My seats were the butt of many jokes among my flying buddies. The airplane came from Arizona and I imagine someone loved them out there. Like the side panels I wanted something a little more modern. My S model came with low back seats and small headrests. I really like the high back seats that came with later V35Bs. After doing some research with my mechanic, we decided that the new seats would fit in my airplane. I then began searching for a full set of grey seats and within a couple of weeks I found a set at Bonanza Parts. I was able to trade my old seats plus some cash to upgrade my seats. Once they arrived I decided not to recover them because they were still in decent condition. With all my interior parts in hand, I was ready for my big install.

I began the project and was pleasantly surprised at the ease of installation. The carpets simply velcro on the floor and glue onto a couple pieces near the front of the cabin. The side panels took some trimming and fitting to get them in. Tim and I talked about this and knew this was going to happen. He walked me through the process and it was a piece of cake. They fit great and the quality is unmatched. The seats simply slid onto the tracks and was the easiest part of the project. Of course it had its own set of "while you’re in there" sub-projects, such as cleaning gunk off the belly and adding sound proofing insulation. My mechanic was on hand to help with odds and ins during the project.

My do-it-yourself interior project was a fantastic experience. The entire project took me about three weekends worth of work. I get compliments on interior all the time and no longer get funny nicknames. By doing my interior myself I was able to save about 40% on the cost of a high dollar custom interior done by a shop. I definitely could have done my interior for cheaper but there were certain things I wanted to include in my project. If you enjoy working on your airplane, and want to spruce up your interior, I recommend doing it yourself. I would like to thank Airtex, Aviation Design, and Bonanza Parts for helping make this dream a reality.

Reconfiguring Your Cabin-Things You May Not Think About

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).

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