Maintenance - Page 9 Aviation Articles

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.

FBO of the Week - Cutter Aviation/Bob Hoover Jet Center

Only in California can you have a brand new, yet vastly experienced FBO. Cutter Aviation/Bob Hoover Jet Center, founded in 1928 by William Cutter, just opened their newest facility in Van Nuys (VNY) in July.

I spoke with manager Tom Magglos, a veteran ATP rated corporate pilot with five years of FBO management experience, about what makes this facility special. "I believe that the combination of the decades of experience of Cutter Aviation, plus the involvement of aviation pioneer Bob Hoover speaks volumes about what to expect!" In addition, Magglos was proud to be the Piper sales and HondaJet sales and service centers for the region (forthcoming).

Jetcraft Corporation Introduces HUD Vision Access™ – Based on Kollsman Technology – for Bombardier Challenger 604

FAA STC approval and US dealer network established – sales and installation now available through West Star Aviation

RALEIGH, NC, July 23, 2013 – Jetcraft Corporation and its subsidiary Jetcraft Avionics LLC, today announced that their HUD Vision Access™ system is now available for sale and installation on the Bombardier Challenger 604 (CL604).

Last month, Kollsman announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had awarded a “lower landing credit” approved supplemental type certificate (STC) for the Kollsman enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) for the CL604. As a major Kollsman EFVS distributor to the business aviation aftermarket, Jetcraft has commercialized this offering and branded it as HUD Vision Access.

Fully integrated with existing avionics, HUD Vision Access makes the CL604 a more flexible and valuable aircraft by allowing pilots to safely taxi, take-off and land in total darkness, fog, rain, snow, smog and other reduced visibility conditions. Under FAR 91.175, HUD Vision Access permits pilots to descend below decision height (DH/DA) at most airports, reducing the need for ground-based infrastructure. For owners and operators of CL604s, the principal benefits include additional operational credit at more than 4,000 runways across the country, during straight-in approaches with ILS or WAAS-LPV.

Implementation of the HUD Vision Access is a value-adding retrofit for CL604s in-line with the FAA’s new ‘NextGen’ initiative, which places increasing importance on cockpit-based (vs. ground-based) guidance systems.

West Star Aviation, a leading US provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services with multiple authorized locations, has been selected by Jetcraft for system installations. West Star will sell and install HUD Vision Access as an integrated system, provisions or as separate components.

“Jetcraft’s HUD Vision Access system makes the CL604 a more valuable aircraft,” says Chad Anderson, President, Jetcraft Corporation. “Based on our extensive experience in the remarketing of previously-owned business aircraft and independent analysis, we estimate the resale value of HUD Vision Access to be approximately 70% of new. Additionally, HUD Vision Access is a significant differentiator at resale, compared to a similar aircraft without this upgrade. Previously, EFVS was only available on new aircraft sold directly by OEMs. With HUD Vision Access now STC approved on the CL604, we look forward to continuing to work with the Kollsman team to pursue EASA approval and comparable retrofits for aftermarket Bombardier Challenger 605 and CRJ conversion fleets. Working with West Star Aviation to access this game-changing technology enables clients to derive more value from their aircraft investments,” adds Mr. Anderson.

“We are pleased to be the leading installation facilities of Jetcraft’s HUD Vision Access system for CL604s,” continues Greg Byrnes, Senior Vice President, West Star Aviation. “We have considerable expertise with Challengers, specifically including avionics installations. The HUD Vision Access represents a major value-add for aircraft owners and operators. With recent FAA STC approval now established, we are ready to serve the more than 150 CL604 operators registered in the US,” concludes Mr. Byrnes.

About Jetcraft Corporation

Jetcraft Corporation is an international leader in new and pre-owned business aircraft sales, acquisitions and trades. Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, Jetcraft has sales offices/representation in five US cities; Basel and Zurich, Switzerland; Dubai, UAE, Moscow, Russia and Hong Kong, China. The company’s 50-year-plus track record in aircraft transactions has earned it a world class customer base and one of the strongest global networks in the industry. Jetcraft Avionics LLC, a subsidiary of Jetcraft Corporation, provides distribution of enhanced flight vision systems (EFVS) for aftermarket business aircraft using Kollsman’s state-of-the-art EVS-II and AT-HUD. For more information, please visit www.jetcraft.com.

About West Star Aviation

West Star Aviation, Inc. specializes in airframe repair and maintenance, engine repair and maintenance, major modifications, avionics installation and repair, interior refurbishment, paint, parts, surplus avionics sales, window repair, landing gear overhauls and accessory services. The company also provides complete FBO services for transient aircraft at its East Alton, Illinois and Grand Junction, Colorado facilities. For more information, please visit www.weststaraviation.com.

The Next Generation MD-10 ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital

According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired. Of that number 80% of these impairments can be avoided or cured – however, 90% of those afflicted live in developing countries where receiving that care is difficult or almost impossible.

This is where ORBIS International comes in.

ORBIS International is a nonprofit organization that works in developing countries to save sight. ORBIS prevents and treats blindness through hands-on training, public health education, improved access to quality eye care, advocacy and partnerships with local health care organizations. In 1982, its unique aircraft, the Flying Eye Hospital, took to the skies. For the first time ever, a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art teaching hospital had been installed inside an airplane.

Since then, the Flying Eye Hospital has carried out hospital based programs in 92 countries, and has established a long-term presence in the following countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, Peru and Haiti. ORBIS has also used the Flying Eye Hospital and local hospital partners to train 325,000 ophthalmologists, nurses, biomedical engineers and other health care workers to carry out their work, plus has developed an active pool of over 400 doctors, nurses and other eye care specialists from around the world who volunteer to teach during one- to two-week sight-saving programs.

ORBIS medical faculty also train local doctors in oculoplastic surgery, which includes repair of the eye socket (orbit), eyelids, and tear production and drainage. Oculoplastic surgery may be performed to preserve sight as well as to enhance appearance.

Conditions that commonly require oculoplastic surgery in developing countries include:

* Drooping upper eyelid (ptosis)

* Scarring of the upper eyelid, caused by (trachoma, age or trauma, which prevents the lid from covering the entire eye

* Blocked tear ducts

* Trauma causing a fracture to the bones surrounding the eye (socket/orbit)

* Tumors within the orbit, eye or tear gland or pressing against the eye (orbital tumor)

Oculoplastic surgery includes placement of an artificial eye (prosthesis) when eye removal is necessary. Oculoplastic surgical skills are in extremely short supply in developing countries.

ORBIS FEH Comparison – DC-10 vs. MD-10

Recently, FedEx has donated an MD-10 cargo aircraft which will replace the DC-10 that has been serving them well (and still will during the transition). The MD-10 will be converted into the next generation, state of the art Flying Eye Hospital. With the MD-10, ORBIS will only need two pilots as opposed to the current three, as the need for a flight engineer is eliminated. Transitioning to the MD-10 also increases the availability of FedEx pilots to fly FEH programs. The MD-10 has better range, expending from 4,000 to 6,000 miles before a need to refuel. Finally, because they are converting a freighter to a hospital, they will be able to configure the hospital using modules as opposed to building it into the airframe – much more cost-effective and requiring less certification to operate as a flying hospital.

To learn more about ORBIS, including how to donate your time or resources to the cause, please visit www.ORBIS.org. And you can learn more about McDonnell Douglas commercial aircraft on the market at GlobalAir.com as well.

 

 

 

The Value of the Aviation Maintenance Engineer

I just returned from the NBAA Maintenance Management Conference. This year it was held in Fort Worth, TX. The NBAA Maintenance Committee and NBAA staff did another great conference. If you are an Aviation Maintenance Engineer, or manage the maintenance function in any capacity, this is for you. There were exhibitors and a series of presentations designed to further advance the professionalism of the maintenance career field. The presentations of all the awesome speakers are available online: NBAA_Maint_Mgr

I was invited to give a presentation on “Maintenance and the Art of Aircraft Acquisition Planning.” I had 50 minutes to go over the acquisition process. Suffice to say it was the 40,000 foot overview. While I could tell them nothing they didn’t already know about a pre-buy inspection, I did want to give them the overview that would encourage them to be a part of the whole acquisition process from the very start.

Notice that I used a term Aviation Maintenance Engineer (AME). While we still use A&P or mechanic in the US, other countries have used the term Engineer. Like we do in Flight Engineer. I think this term better fits the level of commitment and professionalism of this group. Too many AME’s toil in obscurity in the hangar and are not involved in the day-to-day process of the running of the aviation operation. This is a shame, and perhaps a travesty.

AME’s are in, and part of the every day life of the aircraft. They have intimate knowledge of the aircraft, its systems, and the level of support available locally and globally for every component on the aircraft. That is enough to make them an important team member in the aircraft acquisition process. AME’s also interact with the crew and passengers as the board and deplane. They, along with your pilots and everyone else at the hangar, are the first face of your company when you bring in clients and prospects to visit your company.

AME’s are no better or worse prepared to be managers than pilots. While it seems a natural progression to go from first officer to captain to chief pilot to aviation manager, most AME’s go from technician, to shift leader, and top out at the maintenance manager level. Through education like the NBAA CAM as well as degree-level schooling, AME’s develop into excellent managers. Many pilots, when promoted into manager positions, try to maintain proficiency in the aircraft and develop proficiency as managers. For a small operation this can be done. For larger operations, the Aviation Manager/Director of Aviation position can be a full-time job. The skills required to be a manager and leader do not require an Air Transport Pilot rating (nor an A&P).

If you a fortunate enough to have in-house maintenance staff, get them more involved in the running of your operation. They see and know a lot. Get them more education and encourage their professional development. In addition to motivating a great employee, you develop team leaders and future managers with the skills needed to keep your aviation operation running well.

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