5 Cost-Saving Tips for Your Next Aircraft Refurb

Private jet refurbishment is an expensive business, but there are ways owners and vendors can help reduce the refurbishment costs without compromising on value. Chris Kjelgaard shares five tips...

Chris Kjelgaard  |  14th December 2023
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    Chris Kjelgaard
    Chris Kjelgaard

    Chris Kjelgaard has been an aviation journalist for more than 40 years and has written on multiple topics...

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    Private Jet cabin refurbishment by Elliott Aviation


    At some point, jet owners planning to continue operating the same aircraft for several more years are likely to have cabin refurbishment and paint refurbishment work performed on their plane.

    Even when an owner believes the time is right to sell their aircraft, they’re likely to consider the value of a refurbishment as a way of boosting the marketability of their asset.

    While refurbishment cost is undoubtedly a factor to feature high in the list of most aircraft refurbishment considerations, an aircraft owner’s approach to aircraft refurbishment cost-savings needs to be astute. Short-term savings could ultimately prove more costly in the long run.

    Following are tips from some of Business Aviation’s leading experts on how to act wisely when it comes to cost-saving and your next aircraft refurbishment.

    1. Do as Much of the Whole Project as Possible at One Time

    It makes compelling financial sense for any business aircraft owner to have as much of the refurbishment project performed in one downtime period as possible, says Denise DeYoung, Design Manager for Steven Aerospace and Defense Systems.

    With that in mind, it is worth aircraft owners considering scheduling their refurbishments at the same time as their aircraft is grounded for a major airframe maintenance check or a full engine overhaul.

    One reason is that if owners perform the refurbishment in dribs and drabs over multiple downtime periods, it will make the refurbishment provider’s scheduling task for the entire job much more difficult, and in terms of the total downtime it might take many more hours of the aircraft being grounded for the work than if all the refurb tasks were being performed in one go.

    Another compelling reason for performing as much of the refurb as possible at once while the aircraft undergoes major airframe maintenance is that the entire interior of the aircraft is stripped out to provide access to the most tucked-away parts of the airframe.

    DeYoung notes that the period while the aircraft is entirely clear of its interior furnishings and equipment is the most sensible to replace any equipment, furnishings and finishes.

    Instead of loading all the equipment and furniture from the old interior back into the aircraft when the airframe maintenance check is completed, the refurbishment provider can install the new equipment and furniture in the cabin, along with any elements being kept from the old interior.

    The same principle applies for installation of any new cockpit or cabin avionics and electronic systems specified in a refurbishment project, says Mike LaConto, Avionics Bid Analyst for Stevens Aerospace. It is much quicker and less expensive to install any new cabin or cockpit electronics and avionics systems in an aircraft when its electrical wiring backbone is visible and quickly accessible to mechanics.

    2. Be Smart About Lower-Cost Cabinetry and Upholstery Options

    Replacing or polishing the fine wooden veneers on high-quality aircraft interior cabinetry items can be expensive, but there are a couple of ways in which those items can be refurbished at lower cost, DeYoung notes. But the aircraft owner and the refurbishment provider need to be careful that the chosen lower-cost options don’t ruin the overall look of the cabin.

    Owners should also be aware the lower-cost options may not be as long-lasting as the more expensive veneer work which would otherwise be required.

    One such option is to replace an expensive wooden veneer with a lower-cost thin laminate. Many laminates are available made of a variety of different artificial and/or natural materials. And the right laminate can pair well with the cabinetry item to which it’s applied – but the owner must be careful to ensure it doesn’t look incongruous and cheap on the cabinetry.

    To discover more cost-saving tips for your next aircraft refurbishment, continue reading this article in the AvBuyer December edition. Click the button below…

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