The Cabin Details You Should NEVER Scrimp On

Business jet refurbishments can be costly, so it makes sense for owners to seek savings. But are there areas where owners should resist cutting costs? And how should you design a budget that works for your project? Gerrard Cowan investigates...

Gerrard Cowan  |  12th September 2023
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    Gerrard Cowan
    Gerrard Cowan

    Gerrard Cowan is a freelance journalist who focuses on aerospace and finance. In addition to his regular...

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    Avoid cutting costs in the wrong areas of a cabin refurb


    When it comes to planning a cabin refurbishment for your jet, there are elements that are important to work through to ensure you don’t shave costs in aspects of the refurbishment you later regret.

    Tracey Boesch is Senior Completions and Modifications Sales Representative at Duncan Aviation, provider of a wide range of refurbishment services for business aircraft. According to Boesch, operators should first spend time understanding their budget constraints when planning for a jet refurbishment.

    “Having a realistic budget range from the beginning is the best way to ensure a cohesive and professional design and prevent unintended consequences that can result from trying to trim refurbishment costs well into the process,” she explains.

    Some areas are more suited to trimming costs than others, Boesch says, highlighting the baggage area which is “truly a separate area that is not seen by most passengers”. Therefore, not upgrading materials there won’t have an obvious effect on the fluidity of a cabin’s design, and “it is typically OK to remove it from the budget-conscious work scope.”

    Mix and Match Cabin Refurbishments: Tread With Care!

    However, some cost-saving measures could easily turn into regret, resulting in inconsistencies that interrupt the flow and overall feel of an interior, Boesch warns. This could include non-matching panels in the same quarters, or failure to carry technology upgrades throughout the cabin.

    Such issues could arise in various ways, she notes. An operator may believe their window panels look fine and can be retained, while opting to replace worn sidewalls and carpet. But once these are refurbished, “their proximity to the window panels emphasizes the window panel wear and makes them look more dated, which has a negative effect on the overall appearance of the cabin.”

    Individual interior components create a better long-term ambience when they age and wear in a similar way, Boesch highlights.

    The longevity of the original interior components that are retained after a partial refurbishment needs to be carefully considered. If the operator decides to replace something three years later that was not included in the refurbishment work scope, perhaps because it has reached the end of its useful life, “it may be difficult to properly match the materials needed,” Boesch warns.

    Cabin management updates provide another example. For example, perhaps the owner installs touchscreens on VIP seats, but picks a lower-cost option in other seating areas. “That inconsistency creates visual disharmony and looks disjointed, as opposed to the flow seen when cabin avionics are integrated similarly with the latest touchscreen technology throughout.”

    And the flight deck is often overlooked in refurbishments, Boesch notes. It may feel like a separate area from the cabin but, depending on the aircraft configuration, the first thing that a passenger sees when they ascend the stairs are the galley or the jump-seat. Typical VIP positions provide a good view of the entry area and flight deck, she notes.

    “To ensure the best interior feel and flow, and since they are in the ‘line of sight’ when boarding and as a seated VIP, things like new carpet should be carried into the flight deck,” Boesch recommends. “And when seats are refurbished, the jump-seat shouldn’t be forgotten, even if you’re tempted to remove the crew seats from your budget for cost savings.”

    The best way to keep costs down is to know your budget constraints at the outset, Boesch reiterates. Over the last five to eight years, there has been a significant increase in options for materials, and today there are better-looking, better-wearing, budget-friendly options that didn’t exist previously.

    “There are lots more options with lower prices that are still quite lovely and attractive, even when paired with things like existing high-end cabinetry,” she adds.

    Refurb Fundamentals: Safety, Design, Durability, Technology & Expertise

    Thomas Chatfield, CEO of Camber Aviation Management, highlighted a range of areas in which owners should avoid cost-cutting measures. The top priority is safety and certification, which must always be central to any aircraft refurbishment project.

    To continue reading this article in the AvBuyer September digital edition, click the button below…

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