- 05 Oct 2021
- Matt Harris
- Jet Refurbishment
One of the most frequently overlooked areas of the private jet cabin is the galley. With the wide range of galley equipment available – from toasters and espresso machines, to stove tops and ovens, how can you ensure your galley functionality is optimized? Dave Higdon tucks in...Back to Articles
You don’t need to dig very deep on social media to see the disdain of more-than-a-few travelers flying with the scheduled airlines today. There are comments and photos aplenty berating the quality and quantity (and in some cases, non-existence) airline meal.
Once the highlight of an otherwise monotonous flight, airline catering has taken a nosedive in recent years, massively dented by continual budget cuts as the airlines fight to keep their services profitable.
Budget cuts are generally less applicable to private aviation (though every flight operation does have a budget it needs to adhere to). So, while investments are made in refurbishing cabins to offer optimal comfort, supporting the passengers’ business activities through state-of-the-art technology and materials, it seems strange that far less is spoken about optimizing the galley area of the cabin.
After all, this is the storage and preparation area for hot and cold food, and beverages that fuel the passengers as they travel, playing just as important a role as the Wi-Fi, CMS, or lighting in enabling them to arrive at their destination in peak condition.
If a galley refurbishment is on the radar for your next cabin refurbishment, what are some of the considerations you should make?
Consult your Flight Crew
When it comes to refurbishing the galley space aboard a private jet, “It's all about where you place certain items, and how much storage you have,” says Alex Berry, Director of OnAir Dining.
Within the limited confines of the majority of private jet and turboprop cabins, that means you’re going to need to be very resourceful with how you use the space.
Havilande Whitcomb, Design Director and CEO, Aviation Aesthetics, recommends starting with a list of what equipment the crews want – and, leaving enough time to ensure that the project goes smoothly, especially because issues are bound to arise as the project advances, particularly for certification.
The larger the aircraft the more options you can tap. For example, a Light Jet or Turboprop may be able to facilitate a microwave oven and coffee maker – but probably not a convection oven. And while there’s no possibility of the owner of a Mid-Size Jet having all of the amenities and storage space found on an Ultra-Long-Range, Large Cabin Jet, the options do broaden to incorporate some of those features in a potential galley upgrade.
For these operators, it becomes important to filter out the ‘wants’ from the ‘needs’. That’s going to require you to look at your mission requirements. For example, would it serve your purposes better to sacrifice the oven (installed in your ideal galley) for additional storage if your average trip length lasts barely three or four hours?
“If we were asked to provide restaurant food, which would usually come in glamorous packaging, we would fast-chill and package it in more economic packaging so that it can be stored safely and correctly on the aircraft,” Berry explains. “Then the food can be reheated and brought back to its original quality.”
Thus, if it’s reheating you need to achieve, it doesn’t require an oven when a less space-consuming microwave will do, freeing up the space for necessary storage for the food, drinks, and crockery.
As Whitcomb hinted, if your flight operation has flight attendants, involve them in the decision-making. They can be your best allies since they’re most familiar with the space and service restrictions of the aircraft.
“There was one company we provided training for that consulted its flight attendants when refurbishing the aircraft,” says Paula Kraft, Managing Partner at DaVinci Inflight Training Institute. “It was a large aircraft, with the galley taking over the whole tail of the aircraft.
“The flight attendant created a trash chute at the back of the cabin, so the trash would go into a dumpster in the belly of the aircraft [as opposed to walking garbage bags through the plush interior].
“That operator never had a problem eliminating garbage from the cabin, and the cabin wasn't cluttered, or soiled, with bags.”
Flight Attendants also understand food safety practices, as well as the tastes and preferences of their passengers, Kraft adds. “That same aircraft also had a refrigerated salad station installed so the Attendants could prepare salads and keep them in refrigeration, separate from the proteins.”
Consult your MRO Center
Though part of the pleasure of re-furbishing the aircraft cabin is to make it personal and comfortable, the scope of the design program should also be looked at in terms of certification requirements and longevity, which is where a second group of people you should consult comes into the equation.
Work closely with your MRO shop who will not only be familiar with the latest equipment available, but also with what is certified to be installed aboard your make/model jet. Having worked on many other aircraft similar to your own, they will have plenty of experience and ideas to share on how to make the best use of the galley space available. And those insights will be beneficial in two ways when you eventually come to sell the aircraft.
Firstly, it’ll help ensure any upgrade you make won’t deter potential buyers. What works for you will one day need to work for somebody else. (Aboard some of the larger aircraft, for example, some would-be buyers are said to be put off by galleys being located at the aft of the cabin.)
And, secondly, knowing what’s installed on similar aircraft could give you a competitive edge on the market as your jet offers newer, smarter electronics and storage solutions within the galley.
The message is clear. Though you may not have given the galley area on your jet much thought over the years you’ve been dining en route to those business appointments, there are others you can ally with who will know the intricacies of the existing galley and future galley options very well indeed.
Get the galley upgrade right, and you’ll reap the rewards instantly in the enhanced dining experience aboard the jet. And you’ll reap them in the future when the time comes to sell.