HAI Convention News

For VIP Helicopters, It’s All About the Amenities in the Cabin

 - February 13, 2012, 6:40 PM


When it comes to executive helicopters, it’s what’s inside that counts. Inside the cabin that is. And these days, the interior amenities in an executive helicopter go well beyond leather seats and plush carpet.

At Heli-Expo 2012, Mecaer Aviation Group (Booth No. 5924) garnered considerable attention with a mockup of a new AW169 interior that highlights passenger comfort, noise reduction and “a state-of-the-art, in-flight entertainment system.”

It is designed to be equipped with MAG’s Silens cabin noise- and vibration-reduction system, and to accommodate MAG’s IFeel cabin electronics package, which includes a fully customized cabin management and in-flight entertainment package.

According to Alessandra Pasqua, head of the MAG Design Studio, the interior “features exquisite materials, refined woods and sophisticated ambient cabin lighting.”

Hillaero Modification Center (Booth No. 7752) has been in the business of interior completions for more than 30 years and that experience shows. While most of Hillaero’s work is in medical interiors, the Lincoln, Neb.-based company is well known for its executive fixed-wing executive cabins, and it carries over nicely to the helicopter community. Sales executive Doug Hill told AIN, “We would be delighted to take on more executive cabin work.”

Lesser known is SureFlight (Booth No. 6417), a newcomer to the executive-helicopter cabin business, though not to helicopter aviation maintenance and overhaul. The Coatesville, Pa.-based company is already known for its exterior paint work, however. In fact, the company did the outside paint on one of Donald Trump’s helicopters. But cabin completion and refurbishment work seemed “a natural extension” of the exterior paint business, said Andy Waynick, manager of interior completions.

SureFlight already has a soft-goods shop in operation and plans to open a cabinetry shop “in the very near future.”

Flight Display Systems (Booth No. 2811) doesn’t do helicopter cabin completions, or any interior completion work at all. But the Alpharetta, Ga.-based electronics specialist provides pretty much everything else, from cabin-management to cabin-entertainment systems.

One of its more impressive jobs was installation of its Select cabin management systems in an Eurocopter EC145. The system allows passengers to control XM radio, Blu-ray video, cabin lighting, air conditioning and moving-map display from the comfort of their seats.

“The cabin alone is very nice, but it’s what we add to the cabin that makes it come alive,” said Nick Gray, Flight Display Systems marketing manager.

In times gone by, executive helicopter interiors were often an afterthought, and whatever went into them was an adaptation of what had been originally designed for fixed-wing aircraft. That line of thinking has changed dramatically, and helicopter cabin designers and completion centers now work from a clean sheet, creating quieter cabins, designing wet bars, toilets and even showers. The end result is a new generation of executive helicopters that provide the same comforts and amenities and electronic features as their executive fixed-wing brethren.

For those non-believers, visit the Mecaer exhibit here at Heli-Expo 2012 and settle back in the executive seats of their AW169 cabin mockup.