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Pitfalls Of A Poor Interior
Avoid headaches later - ensure proper procedures now

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s a simple statement of science- but so true in many aspects of life – and it even applies to the aircraft industry. Our ongoing series on aircraft interiors will look at many aspects of the industry.

    While not experts in every aspect of the aircraft interior industry- we have a good idea of what works and more importantly- what doesn’t!

    Selecting an private business jets for business or personal use- new or pre-owned- basically comes down to two principle factors:
• Selecting the proper aircraft to meet the mission profile desired. This will take into consideration required performance- range and size of aircraft- etc.
• Selecting the proper interior to meet the mission profile desired. This will take into account how the aircraft will be utilized- two passengers or 12 passen- gers; corporate shuttle- VIP or personal use- etc.

    Not selecting the aircraft or interior to meet the required expectations is where problems begin to develop. When an interior is worth about 25% of the investment of a new aircraft- it deserves more attention than it garners.

    Similarly- while the aircraft refurbishment of a pre-owned aircraft interior can be as short as changing the soft goods (leathers from seats- sidewalls- headliner and rugs) to include the changing of the hard goods- cabinets- galleys and lavs- etc.- and while the value will be considerably less than 25% of the value of the used aircraft- it is equally as important in assuring pitfalls are avoided so as to not cause future problems once the aircraft is returned to service. So again- attention to interior deserves more attention than is often given.

    Here we’ll look at some of the pitfalls and problems that could be caused during the interior selection process.

Pitfall #1:
The Aircraft Selection

Only too often a buyer has purchased an aircraft only to find the interior they had envisioned cannot be accommodated. How many times have you seen items that had to be removed- or could not be included because the aircraft and/or the OEM couldn’t accommodate what the buyer desired?

    Selecting an aircraft requires thought as to what the end user desires for an interior. Select your aircraft to meet the objective of the owner/operator.

Pitfall #2:
The Specification (missing information)

The easiest issue to discuss and yet the one that causes the majority of problems is the Interior Specification Document or lack thereof.

    The specification will outline all of the details describing the materials selected- colors- layouts- drawings and much more. This is the guideline document that is used as a reference for all parties involved in the completion of a particular aircraft’s interior. Any omissions or errors will be compounded during the actual completion process.

    Even more important is missing information that doesn’t get entered into the specification since this will also result in details missing from the interior- change order charges to add missing or omitted items later in the completion cycle and cause scheduling delays.

    Personal tastes and desires of a younger generation of aircraft buyers are changing the look and feel of aircraft interiors. As such- the usual and time honored “that’s the way it’s done” in interiors just doesn’t work in today’s environment. Changing a small detail such as a “curved galley” instead of the “box or rectangle galley” for example- requires a more detailed drawing and careful selection of materials and finishes. Other examples are larger TV screens due to the advent of larger- thinner and less weighty LCD and Plasma screens.

    A properly written specification will outline the exact details- material selection and finishes required- thus preventing problems later on. Take the time to review the specifications presented by the OEM. This is where selecting an accomplished consultant can be a great value-added service since they’ve worked with numerous specifications and have seen what works and what doesn’t.

    Always attack a project with a suitable plan and apply the appropriate resources to properly manage the project. This will eliminate a majority of the pitfalls that present themselves or more importantly- prevent future pitfalls.

Pitfall #3:
The Completion Center

The aerospace industry has always had a turbulent history of rapid hiring’s followed by rapid layoffs- and highly trained- skilled talent has been lost. Many of the talented men and women who began their careers in aviation during the heydays of the 1980s and early 1990s have been put off with the widespread layoffs of the late 90s- and since 9/11 have elected not to continue in aviation and have since changed career venues. But that’s an issue to discuss in greater detail in another feature.

    The point is that finding a good quality shop with highly trained and talented personnel is getting difficult to find. Today many centers have a few good skill sets working with many apprentices learning the craft. To be fair to the manufacturers- new technology and materials are transforming this industry into a more capable one since the new materials are generally less labor intensive with a quicker learning cycle to work with- and thus the production cycle is reduced.

    If you were to buy a multi-million dollar residence would you just show up at the conclusion of the build to pick up the keys from the contractor and move in? Having a multi-million dollar interior designed- built and installed is no small feat. As such- it is advisable to have full-time- on-site representation to oversee the completion of your aircraft.

    Checking and double checking against the specifications and inspecting for fit- form- function and quality will ensure that you will be receiving exactly what you- the buyer- desires but more importantly- you will be eliminating potential future problems.

    An example is pictured (top right)- where metal shavings were found during an inspection- after the area was closed off (signed off by the inspector) as complete. Over the years these shavings can chafe the surrounding wires and cause electrical or avionics problems which will be expensive and difficult to repair. The shavings were cleaned up and thus a potential problem was averted.

    Pictured (top left) we have another example- where a clamp was not properly attached after the area was closed off as completed. Again- with time- the wires could chafe and cause problems in the future.

    Other examples that we have seen include improper use of a finishing which in time could result in color fading or de-lamination. Only a trained eye can spot these areas that are difficult to identify.

Pitfall #4:
Final Delivery and Acceptance
Once the aircraft is complete and ready for final delivery it is imperative the owner/operator performs a thorough inspection. We cannot overstate the importance of the acceptance inspection.

    Once the operator leaves the completion center the clock on the warranty begins and every discrepancy after that time becomes an act of negotiating. There is warranty coverage for repair of the items- but what happens when a vendor item is no longer available?

    A major pitfall is not doing a complete inspection with a knowledgeable group that understands the systems. Once an aircraft leaves the completion center it will be more difficult for the operator to find the time and slot to put the aircraft down for retrofits and repairs.
   
Avoiding the Pitfalls
As with any project- proper planning- procedures and performance (checking/inspecting) will keep your project under control and thus avoid pitfalls. Addressing a problem early- head-on is what prevents a problem from becoming a bigger burden later.

    Pitfalls in a poor interior will result in additional downtime to continually address the problems or extended downtime to rectify the problem. The owner/operator will also see a diminished value when it is time to sell the aircraft. All these problems are listed in the logbooks and work orders so that when a pre-buy inspection is performed- they tend to stand out since the new buyer will have to contend with a problematic interior or invest in a refurbishment project. This could make or break a potential sale.

    To avoid pitfalls- proper planning is a must. Acquire the aircraft that meets the objectives- have an interior specification that meets the objectives- choose a completion center that can meet and exceed the objectives followed by accepting the aircraft after it meets all of the objectives. There’s no need to compromise with the OEM to meet their objective. Ensure your objectives are being met. Work with a group that will ensure the owner/operator objectives will be met and better yet- exceeded.

This article was written by Aerospace Concepts (John Brodeur) which specializes in Completion Management and Interior Design of large cabin business aircraft. In business since 1998 ACL has managed the completion of over 50 widebody aircraft including 40 Global Express aircraft. Photos are for the use of this article only and may not be reproduced- copied and used without express written permission of the author and Aerospace Concepts LLC. Mr. Brodeur can be contacted at Tel: +1 514-331-7900 or by email at jbrodeur@aerospaceconcepts.com.

More information from www.aerospaceconcepts.com

For more articles related to this feature please see below;

Inside Interiors - June 2007

Inside Interiors - February 2007

Dreamliner VIP Interiors - January 2007

 


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