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Refurbishment Q&As

A refurbishment can completely transform an aircraft – both inside and out - but those dramatic paint and interior updates also come with a significant downtime and a price tag.

AvBuyer   |   1st August 2014
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A selection of Frequently Asked (Refurb) Questions

By Danielle Kavan

A refurbishment can completely transform and revive an aircraft – both inside and out - but those dramatic paint and interior updates also come with a significant downtime and a price tag. Almost every aspect of an aircraft interior can be handcrafted, right down to the stitching on the seats, making each experience unique.

Although unique projects don’t necessarily lend well to generic FAQs, a general pattern of questions do emerge from prospects looking to have their aircraft refurbished, and following are a selection of the ten most commonly asked that are received by the team at Duncan Aviation... As the answers will demonstrate, it’s all in the planning.

How much is my refurbishment going to cost?

When customers call about a potential refurbishment, they want to know how much it’s going to cost. That’s an understandable question. Setting a realistic expectation is important, and if the initial question were that simple to answer, we’d plaster price stickers on our products and services. As mentioned, many refurbishment projects tend to be customized though.

Although there are several steps that can be selected to modify and transform your aircraft paint or interior until it is ‘top-of-the-line’, it is also possible to stick to a smaller refurbishment budget and retain some, or most of the original interior. It’s important to establish exactly what you are trying to achieve through a refurbishment project, which will help establish how much you really want to spend.

“We do a lot of investigative questioning to determine what the customer really needs and wants,” says Completions Sales Representative Matthew Schepers. “Once we determine that, we can begin with a ballpark budget and work out all the details so the price we quote is the price you pay.”

What kind of downtime am I looking at?

“The earlier we can talk to a customer and finalize a plan, the shorter the downtime,” offered Completions Sales Representative Nate Klenke. “It’s really that simple.”

In essence, as much planning prior to an aircraft’s arrival needs to be made as possible, allowing the actual refurb process to become as efficient as possible, thus helping reduce the downtime. As an example, some customized carpets might take up to 16 weeks to arrive, so they need to be ordered well in advance of the aircraft’s arrival at the shop. Likewise, selection of seat patterns, shell panels and cabinets well in advance of the airplane’s arrival will all help cut weeks off the downtime.

How often do I need to repaint my aircraft?

The simple answer is once every five-to-six years - if you hangar your aircraft and wash it frequently. Try to avoid flying near to saltwater or snow where de-icing products are used. Inspect for chips on a regular basis, and stay current on your touch-ups. If you can stick to those rules of thumb, then you can maximize the life of your aircraft paint work.

Of course, the above pointers are pretty unrealistic for most business aircraft operators - so, if you’re looking to avoid even more expensive corrosion issues you should take your aircraft in for a full paint refurbishment every half-decade.

An ideal time to repaint your aircraft is during a major maintenance event. (For example, we recommend Falcon owners sync a strip and paint with their major C-maintenance event, which occurs every six years.)

What’s included in a paint job?

“Anyone can shoot a glossy coat of paint,” says Completions Sales Representative George Bajo, “but the value is in the details and proven processes.

“It’s all about the details. That’s what you pay for, and that’s what customers need to really look at when they’re comparing quotes. These bonus items cost a bit more, but the added value is definitely worth it.”

The attention to detail at the sealed windows and cleanliness of the painted landing gear are evidence of a job done right. New stair treads; dressed boots; wiped down wheels and wheel wells; painting inside of gear doors; radome boots that don’t yellow; and erosion tape are extras that customers should expect as a part of the service.

How can I increase capacity and make my aircraft’s cabin more efficient?

Just about every reconfiguration customers ask for is possible. [Accordingly, Duncan Aviation has an on-site engineering team and can approve a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) through in-house Organization Delegated Authority (ODA)].

As an example, when a Falcon 900 customer needed more storage, space was found by swapping the rarely-used forward lavatory for a closet and auxiliary gallery storage cabinet. The lines from the toilet were capped and a cabinet built and inserted that molded around the old chute just in case a future owner should wish to reinstate the lavatory.

The customer was able to use the aircraft in a way that best met his needs, but the value of having a second lavatory was not erased as it could easily be restored. Several other customers followed suit after the initial STC was obtained.

Do you have a design team I can work with?

A refurbishment shop that is worth its salt will assign a designer to each customer project. Our team also works with personal home and yacht designers, as well as architects if clients choose to bring their own.

It is not unusual for customers to ask to see prior projects. Your selected refurbishment shop should provide you with ‘before and after’ photos to convey how easily the look and feel of a cabin can be transformed with just a few updates.

What Cabin Management System (CMS) best fits my needs?

Once again, it depends on the answer to questions determining the current equipment installed, and to focus options on the best solutions for the customer: For example, how many people normally fly on the aircraft? Is it being used for entertainment purposes, or are passengers giving presentations and working on the flight?

Additionally, with every CMS comes a list of five to 20 different upgrades customers may wish to include. A competent sales expert will walk customers through their options to determine what they truly need, want, and what upgrades are worth the additional cost.

Can I get Wi-Fi?

Most customers want their electronics to work in the air exactly as they do on the ground. Some fly internationally while others remain in the continental US most of the time. These factors greatly affect what Wi-Fi options are available to the customer.

“Selecting a data solution for in-flight internet is a lot like choosing a cell phone company,” explains Avionics Installation Expert Steve Elofson. “Data connection speeds, network availability, equipment costs and monthly data plans all factor into the equation.”

Nevertheless, once a customer makes a choice Wi-Fi can be a relatively simple addition.

How involved is an LED lighting update?

LED lighting is incredibly popular because it completely transforms the cabin, and is more environmentally friendly, while saving weight and eliminating individual power supplied for each fluorescent bulb. The lights are so much brighter than anything previously offered, too.

Again, because there are several options and colors of light to choose from, customers should be paired with a designer to choose the best option for their interior and design tastes. There’s nothing worse than having your new LED lighting installed, only to find it doesn’t work with your choice of a refurbished interior!

Closing Thought…

If possible, from a timing and budget perspective, it is recommend you schedule interior, paint and electronics modifications alongside a major inspection to get the most out of the time an aircraft spends in the shop. But, as always, plan well in advance of that event exactly what you need to eliminate unnecessary downtime and expense during the actual refurbishment project.

Danielle Kavan is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Duncan Aviation where she uses her writing skills to inform the Business Aviation community of Duncan Aviation’s services, products and many locations, as well as address concerns aircraft owners face daily.

Duncan Aviation, a full-service completions, installation and major maintenance service center, specializes in providing a one-stop shop for its customers and offering tip-to-tail services. At Duncan Aviation, existing interior materials can be updated or the interior can be refurbished with new seats, shell panels, LED lighting and cabinets. Find out more from www.DuncanAviation.aero.

Read more about: Jet Interiors

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