A LOOK INSIDE
Marc Grangier writes about how the interiors business is getting blue-sky designs off the page and into the air
Last year, Forbes Magazine identified the interior customization of private jets as one of eight important trends in the travel market, with the potential for customizing the luxury travel experience being more needed than ever. This is because passengers now expect their flying experience to be more akin to a luxury hotel than that of an aircraft. They want a cabin tailored to their own needs, featuring personalized in-flight entertainment (IFE) displays, modular interior lighting and even augmented reality systems.
Heading into NBAA-BACE, we take a quick look inside the interiors business.
Jet Aviation Basel has a long history of refurbishment, modifications and upgrades of aircraft cabins. From conceptual design through engineering, manufacturing, installation, testing and certification, its on-site shops and comprehensive services cover the entire value chain for all required modifications. Last May, the company announced it had signed another Boeing 787 completions contract. In 2015, Jet Aviation was the first company to take delivery of a B787-9 for interior completions. Since 2013, Jet Aviation has dedicated significant research and development into carbon fiber aircraft, including the B787, to ensure it can offer customers world-leading expertise and equipment specifically formulated for the demands of a composite airframe. With innovative proprietary technology, Jet Aviation can integrate a cabin onto a B787 without modifying the fuselage, avoiding time-consuming and costly repairs. Jet Aviation has completed 28 Boeing aircraft since 1998.
At EBACE 2018, Lufthansa Technik and Mercedes Benz unveiled a sporty variant of their prestigious VIP aircraft cabin, called ‘Inspired by AMG’. ‘Inspired by AMG’ combines the dynamic architecture of the Mercedes-Benz Style interior cabin featuring its characteristic flowing DNA helix, and Sensual Purity formula design language with elements inspired by the sporty appearance of Daimler AG subsidiary Mercedes-AMG. “Based on the large international interest and positive feedback that we have achieved so far, we decided to develop a second variant of our extremely well-received Mercedes-Benz Style VIP cabin,” says Wieland Timm, Senior Director Sales, VIP & Special Mission Aircraft at Lufthansa Technik. The new cabin design adapts the latest color and trim finish of the newest Mercedes AMG GT C. Another main feature taken over from the ‘Executive’ variant are the so-called black panels, which, inspired by the typical dashboard design in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and AMG cars, appear to float in front of the window due to their discreet light corona.
Rockwell Collins and Comlux have signed a general terms agreement in which Rockwell Collins will provide its VIP customers with a comprehensive product portfolio, including avionics, cabin management, content and entertainment options, seating, lighting and galley products, as well as ARINCDirectSM connectivity and flight services. Engineering work on the first two aircraft awarded under this five-year agreement is now underway. Product offerings from the full portfolio were selected for a BBJ retrofit and the first BBJ MAX being delivered. Work will be completed at Comlux’s facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.
GDC Technics’ sister company GDC Engineering has successfully passed both EN9100 and EASA 21J Audits with an unlimited scope of approval to maintain its Design Organization Approval status, allowing in-house European OEM approval capabilities for both TC rated aircraft and STC’s alike. GDC Engineering is one of only seven companies in Europe able to hold such an approval while also holding an ODA, which provides strategic time and cost savings for its clientele. “With the trust and endorsements of both the FAA and EASA, we are able to save our clients time as well as costs with in-house OEM certification capabilities,” says GDC’s General Partner Mohammad Alzeer. GDC Technics recently announced two separate head-of-state completion contracts, consisting of four wide-body aircraft in total. This year GDC will deliver three wide body head-of-state aircraft.
To meet the growing demand from customers, TAG Aviation’s Farnborough Maintenance Services (TFMS), in partnership with its approved suppliers, Zodiac Aerospace Business Aircraft Interiors and Farnborough Aircraft Interiors (FAI), is continuing to enhance its suite of business aircraft interiors and on-site repair capabilities. Services now include the discreet woodwork of Zodiac Aerospace Business Aircraft Interiors’ Smart repairs, which are aptly named due to the effective nature of the work. Generating only minimal debris, they require minimal equipment and can be undertaken in any given location at short notice. TFMS also offers on-site cleaning and detailing services on all business aircraft interiors at, or around, its location base at Farnborough Airport.
Last July, Flying Colours Corp. completed a major refurbishment of the cabin of a Gulfstream GV, with a revamping of the fuselage exterior. The works also included its first Ka-band installation on such a model. Installation required the mounting of the radome, tail antenna and cabin hardware to bring powerful connectivity to the cabin and flight-deck.
Embraer Executive Jets is looking at ways of creating a luxury finish by exposing elements of the cabin’s carbon fiber structure. “I call it industrial chic,” says Jay Beever, VP of Interior Design, Embraer Executive Jets. “We’re creating lighter weight opportunities through industrial design of the sort you’d see in residential schemes.” This was put into practice for a recent customer who was interested in an all-black interior for his Phenom 100 ACE. Rather than opting for a wood treatment, the designers exposed a large amount of the substrate. “At first glance it looks like a piano-black aircraft interior, but when the light hits the panels, you have the three-dimensional feel of the carbon fiber weave,” adds Beever. “It’s beautiful, very elegant.”
Last September, Duncan Aviation announced that it had designed new drink rails and updated the seat design using new seat frames for a Bombardier Challenger 605 customer whose aircraft had some ornate trim features and design details that dated the interior. The two enhancements add visual appeal and give the entire interior of the 605 a sleek, contemporary look that can be repeated in any Challenger 605 cabin.
F/List GmbH, a high-end business jet interior manufacturer with headquarters in Austria, has now opened a production facility in Laval/Quebec, which will be the base for all of its operations in North America. The company has a long history in Canada, having already worked very closely with Bombardier and other partners in the region. It provides surface finishes for the Bombardier Global 5000, 6000 and 7000, as well as to Zodiac Business Aircraft Interiors, which builds the cabinetry for the Global line. Beyond local aircraft manufacturers such as Bell and Bombardier, there could be opportunities with US-based business jet companies like Gulfstream, Dassault, and Boeing. F/List also wants to strengthen its position in the aftermarket with owners looking to renovate interiors with wood, stone, leather and other surface finishes and component assembly.
Founded in 2009, and based in Toulouse, France with a commercial presence in Miami, Hong Kong, Montreal and Sao Paulo, AirJet Designs specializes in interiors for private jets. Last June, its parent company Aero Experts was awarded the engineering and certification on the interior refurbishment of a Gulfstream G550 private aircraft. As part of the project, its team designed a unique custom-made dining table that is stored under one of the aircraft’s 16g divans when not in use. The engineering team designed the table in response to meet the client’s wishes, as no standard table currently existed on the market for such use.
Headquartered in Bangor, Maine, C&L Aviation Group is strongly promoting LED lighting in cabins which, just as a good paint job on the exterior, sets the mood for the passengers. LED lights greatly out-perform incandescent lights for longevity. While incandescent lights only have a useful life of about 1,000 hours, a LED bulb can last for more than 30,000 hours. Also, LED lights use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and are about 40% lighter. They generate less heat, which also means savings when it comes to cooling the interior air. Recently, the company fully refurbished a Hawker 800. Needless to say that its cabin lighting was totally LED!
According to Christopher Mbanefo, YASAVA’s CEO, “As 21st century humans, we cannot continue flying using outdated design principles”. That’s why his company, based in Lausanne/Switzerland, has designed the Astral corporate aircraft interior. Adaptable to the top-of-the-range corporate jets and optimized for ultra-long range travel, the cabin incorporates new anti-gravitational human support structures (seats), the AÏANA WAVE. Designed with inspiration from the human body and research from aero-medical sciences and sleep psychology, these structures are ingeniously controlled by gravity through patent-pending Smart Mechanics.