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) .
I grew up in Dover, New Hampshire. Most locals tended to drop the letter R when it was at the end of a word. So I was from “Dovah, New Hampshah.” We were not as bad as our neighbors from Boston (“Pahhhhk the cahhhh”), but you could see the influence. As I aged, traveled, and lived in different areas, the letter R returned. Other than a raised eyebrow or two, the dropped R never really caused a problem with communicating.
Within the cockpit, we need to speak clearly and concisely so that any pilot or controller can understand what is said. "Taxi to Runway 18" is not clearance to taxi onto runway 18. In the business world, we also need to communicate clearly. Major decisions can go awry because of misunderstandings.
Aviation, like other professions, comes with its own tech-speak. Abbreviations and jargon can shorten sentences but can also cause confusion. Mention MSG-3 to the director of maintenance and you get conversation about maintenance philosophies. Mention that to an executive and they may think it is an ingredient in Chinese take-out. NPV gets a blank stare from the pilot and a smile from the CFO. As long as we stay within our discipline, communication can be tough enough, but when the pilot, the executive, the lawyer and the CFO sit down, things can easily be misunderstood or worse. Guess who we need for a successful aircraft acquisition?
The whole point with communication is to understand and be understood. Here are three tips to get everyone on the same page.
Explain it to me like I'm an eight-year old.
Eliminate the jargon, or explain it. Jargon only serves to exclude people who aren't in the club and can easily make someone feel resentment over being left out. BFL is not a football league in Belgium. While replacing BFL with "runway needed for take-off" isn't 100% technically correct, it does get the point across. Don't dumb it down, just be clear. Simplicity works.
With regards to an aircraft selection or recommendation, make sure you focus on the requirements for getting an aircraft. If the aircraft is for business use, make sure that all the requirements connect the aircraft with the corporate mission. Why do we need this non-stop range, why do we need this cabin size, why this many seats? The answer to these aircraft questions needs to end up at why you need the aircraft in the first place.
Keep it short.
Lincoln's Gettysburg address was 268 words. I know the lawyers don't/won't/can't do this, but in general, brevity helps with communications. When you communicate with individuals with different skill sets, keeping it straightforward keeps everyone on the same page. Did you ever read a seven page email? I know I never did and never will. A seven page report might be too short. A two page summary is too long. Brevity is using just enough words to convey the point.
We routinely work with the aviation department and the executive team at the same time. The pilot understands the technical information regarding why we are recommending a certain aircraft. The executive team understands why the recommendations make business sense. The cost and financial analysis needs to pass the scrutiny of the CFO.
"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Robert McCloskey
Find aircraft for sale listings and pilot resources for U.S. airports on GlobalAir.com.
It is a process, not an event.
First off, maintain the aircraft.
A well-maintained aircraft will always have a higher residual value than one that is not. Well-maintained in this case refers to an aircraft that is maintained beyond what the minimum regulatory standards require. Airworthiness is related to safety, not value.
Being well-maintained means more than keeping up with the required inspections and component overhauls. It means the aircraft has its equipment in functioning order, non-critical wear and tear items are taken care of, and cosmetics are recognized as important, too. There may be optional service bulletins that add to the functionality and maintainability of the aircraft. These optional service bulletin items should be chosen with maintainability and mission effectiveness in mind.
The aircraft exterior should be kept clean and polished. Interior comfort and convenience items need to be maintained in good working order and updated as required. A clean aircraft is not only more appealing, but problems and issues are spotted earlier and thus, may be easier and less costly to remedy. Paint and interior should be kept in good condition continuously, not just in the week prior to putting your aircraft up for sale.
The best ones to maintain the aircraft, if possible, are your own in-house maintenance staff. A well-trained, dedicated maintenance staff is your first and best opportunity to keep the aircraft in top condition. Your choice of a major MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facility is important as well. Picking an MRO is more than just going with the lowest bidder. The MRO must have the knowledge and skills to perform the required maintenance, and when necessary, troubleshoot and repair your aircraft. They must do so in a manner that inspires confidence in their work. They do this by meeting schedules, communicating regularly, and by returning your aircraft in such good condition that follow-up work is minimal, if at all required. In-house maintenance plus an MRO with a top reputation for your aircraft type is a one-two combination for maintaining your aircraft value.
Maintain the aircraft records.
Maintenance records are the health record of your aircraft. Detail beyond "Required inspection complied with" helps with maintaining your aircraft value by providing a written record of the quality of your aircraft. When I see my physician for my annual checkup, I want to hear more than "looking good, see you next year." What is my weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc? The aircraft maintenance records not only need to be a true and exact representation of your aircraft, they are also the written proof as to the quality of the maintenance. This is the tool to use to communicate the health of your aircraft to your maintenance staff, MRO, and any future buyer. Missing and incomplete maintenance records call into question even the basic airworthiness of an aircraft.
Be careful with upgrades.
As aircraft age and the production numbers get sufficiently high in number, there are always third party companies that seek to enhance the aircraft in terms of functionality, performance or looks. When evaluating an aftermarket upgrade for your aircraft, you need to consider the impact on the aircraft's value.
Does this upgrade represent a step forward in technology closer or equal to that of a new variant? If the current production models have a particular feature that is also offered as an upgrade to your model, then that likely adds value to your aircraft. An example might be upgrading your old avionics to the current production model's avionics suite.
Is it something that is going to be commonly accepted by most buyers? One-of-a-kind is great in art, but not with production aircraft! If your aircraft is one of a few upgraded with a particular modification, then where or who will be able to work on it? Why isn't that feature more commonly requested or installed?
While first and foremost, an upgrade has to make sense for you and your aircraft mission, you also need to be aware of its impact on the future value of your aircraft.
A clean, well-maintained aircraft will tend to be more reliable in its day-to-day use. Along with its records, this will speak volumes to a future buyer that they are indeed getting a quality aircraft.