Maintenance - Page 8 Aviation Articles

Determining the Right Cabinet Modifications for Your Aircraft

A little planning upfront can save you a lot of time and money

Jay Scarff
Elliott Aviation Cabinet Technician Team Lead

www.elliottaviation.com

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) .

A Wrench in your Deal

Or a Screw in your wing?

Jim Odenwaldt -Elliott Aviation Aircraft Sales Manager www.elliottaviation.com

Last month we touched on technical expertise and use of available resources during pre-buy (otherwise known as survey). We have all had bumps in the road as we move deals towards completion. Sometimes, it can be tough to get sellers and buyers to agree on price and terms when the pre-buy list is distributed. Here is a short story illustrating how the use of these skills assisted in delivering the best possible outcome.

Earlier this year, we had a light jet at an OEM service center for a pre-buy. It had come directly from a well-known non-OEM service center facility where a complete inspection had just been conducted for the seller, based on the calendar requirements of the maintenance program, prior to the deal being structured. The seller assumed that no major issues would be found as this inspection had just been completed.

At the OEM service center, during the pre-buy, however, a section of the leading edges was removed for a detailed inspection of the area. It was discovered a countersunk screw that was ¼" too long had inadvertently been installed in the corner of the panel. As this fastener was headed toward being flush on the outside, it was gouging into the structure underneath. The damage was beyond the allowable percentage of skin thickness. The service center had to call OEM Engineering to devise a repair, which could take up to three weeks at an undetermined cost. They did offer a 30 flight hour waiver so we had the option to move the aircraft to P&I, the next scheduled stop after closing. Either way, it had to be fixed.

The non-OEM shop that conducted the inspection sent representatives and ultimately took responsibility for the improper fastener. They agreed to cover the cost of the repairs but found it unacceptable to wait three weeks to get a repair scheme from OEM Engineering with no cost estimate. The buyer was willing to close and have the repair made during P&I but the company who offered to pay the bill, understandably, wasn’t going to offer their checkbook carte blanche.

I went to the buyer and presented the idea of having an independent DER devise a repair procedure and take the aircraft back to the non-OEM facility to conduct the repairs. This would accelerate the schedule and allow them to fix their own mistake. Thankfully, they agreed! We finished the inspection, settled the bill and had the aircraft towed back across the airport. The DER was able to quickly formulate a plan, and the work was completed in about two weeks. We were very fortunate all parties were very reasonable. Everyone proceeded with integrity and patience so this one was able to get done.

Jim Odenwaldt has extensive flying and technical experience with all Beechcraft products and sales expertise with all models of Hawker/Beech, Citation and Gulfstream. After graduating from Embry-Riddle in 1989, Jim worked as a CFI and maintenance technician. While with American Beechcraft Company, he was responsible for aircraft sales in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to his ATP, Jim is an A&P and type rated in the Beechcraft Premier.

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).

Slander of Title: The Risk of Filing an Invalid Aircraft Mechanic's Lien

An individual recently called me and told me he wanted to file a mechanic's lien against an aircraft. When I asked him what type of work he had performed he indicated that he had performed some maintenance on the aircraft and also provided pilot services to the owner in the aircraft. Unfortunately, in this individual's state, as is the case in most other states, pilot services are not the type of work upon which an aircraft mechanic's lien may be based. When I told him that, he asked why he couldn't just file the lien for the full amount and then worry about whether he could collect for the pilot services component of the lien down the road. I answered that this was not a good idea. Here's why.

One defense an aircraft owner may assert in response to a lien claimant's attempt to enforce a mechanic's lien against an aircraft is that the lien is invalid because the lien claimant is knowingly demanding an amount in excess of what is justly due. This defense is very common in situations where the aircraft owner initially disputed the amount being charged by the lien claimant. It is also common where the lien claimant is trying to get paid for work that is not lienable work, such as the pilot services in the above-situation. Although this defense usually requires that the aircraft owner show bad faith on the part of the lien claimant or that the lien claimant knew the lien statement was overstated, that isn't necessarily hard to do when the lien is for work that is not allowed under the applicable mechanic lien statute.

And here is the risk a lien claimant may be exposed to if his or her mechanic lien is invalid: If the aircraft owner is successful in defending against the foreclosure proceeding, the aircraft owner will also probably succeed in a slander of title claim against the lien claimant. An aircraft owner asserting a slander of title claim alleges that the lien claimant improperly encumbered the aircraft with an invalid lien. A slander of title claim could have serious and expensive implications for the lien claimant if the improper lien prevented a sale of the aircraft or forced the aircraft owner to accept less in a sale than he or she would have in the absence of a lien.

The moral of the story? Perfecting and enforcing an aircraft mechanic's lien can be tricky. In addition to the federal filing requirement, each state has its own specific requirements governing aircraft mechanic's liens. Lien claimants should understand what their particular state laws allow and require in order to assert an aircraft mechanic's lien. When in doubt, contact an aviation attorney familiar with your state's aircraft mechanic's lien laws to analyze your situation and help you choose the best course of action.

Soaring with Tubreaux Over the Seabase at Oshkosh

This year was my first trip to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture. I knew going in that there would be too much to see in one week – especially when I was seeking great stories to take in and put to print. But volume wasn’t my goal – a rich experience was what I needed. And on Thursday, I received the richest experience that many people don’t – even experienced pilots. I took my first ride in a seaplane!

I rode out to the Seabase, wondering how many patrons have never set foot in this area of Oshkosh. After all, it is a bit of a drive – about 20 minutes by bus (free to get there, $3.00 to return), and since the warbirds and airshows are all right there and easily accessible, the temptation to "go with what you know" is strong.

But once I emerged from the walking trail from the parking lot and campground to the base itself, I couldn’t help but wonder what those that have overlooked it know what they’re missing! The lush green land overlooking Lake Winnebago exudes a naturally relaxing atmosphere. The shelter house, built to handle maybe a couple hundred visitors at once, plus a giant fire pit on the shore still smoldering, reminded me of many of my scouting experiences. If Henry David Thoreau was alive today, this is where he’d hang his hat.

While there were docks around, all were in use. So when pilot Jeremy Williams of Tubreaux Aviation (pronounced "Two Bros") landed and floated up in his 1959 P-18 Super Cub, I shucked my shoes and socks and waded on out. It’s no easy trick for a large guy like me to slide into the rear seat, but I wasn’t deterred! Once I was strapped in and headset was in place, we glided out into the lake, accelerated, and off the water a moment later.

Now I’m not a big fan of heights (I know, I picked an odd profession then, didn’t I?), but Williams’ skill on the stick made the ride as smooth as glass, and I never once felt uncomfortable. He offered to let me try my hand, but I was enjoying myself way too much to change it up. As with anything that’s truly great, the ride was over way too soon, and I climbed down the float back into the water.

Shortly thereafter, I sat down with Wyche Coleman, co-owner of Tubreaux Aviation, to find out more about what makes them tick. I was surprised to find that giving fluffy journalist seaplane rides was just one thing they do!

"Luke Lambard and I built a hanger together. I was constantly being approached by people wanting to learn how to fly, since there wasn’t a place in Shreveport at that time training for licenses. So rather than sending people to Dallas for instruction, we decided to branch out. Jeremy was our first instructor – now we’re up to five full-time instructors."

Coleman and Lambert didn’t stop there, however. "When crew chief Dax Wanless expressed a desire to open his own maintenance shop, we saw the need and made the investment. Now we have three full-time mechanics with 20+ years of experience as an A&P/IA, we’re seeking a fourth, and looking to add avionics as well. We recently added acquisitions and sales to services offered, although we’ve been doing this for years already. There is no other place in Northern Louisiana that can teach you to fly, help you buy your aircraft, hanger and maintain it, all in one place!"

Coleman, an ophthalmologist by trade, has been coming to Oshkosh for a while, first flying there as a part of the 2003 Stars of Tomorrow (all pilots under 30 at that time). Now his brother Kevin, at 23, was flying in the airshow for his second year.

Once our conversation had ended, I wondered around to get a few photos, take some more video, change batteries in the camera, etc. – anything I could think to do to remain at the Seabase just a little longer. When we return in 2014, you’ll likely find me there again!

Check out the video of the Super Cub coming in for a landing, from the open door cockpit!

180 degree panoramic view of the Seabase in Oshkosh, 2013

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.

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