Renovation Hardware: Pioneers will always meet obstacles

 - September 13, 2006, 2:44 PM

The owner of the 1991 Falcon 900 shown here undergoing an extensive cockpit and cabin renovation by Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, Neb., has learned a lesson familiar to all pioneers: the unknown lurks somewhere out there and will spring surprises. The flight deck of this 1991 trijet is the first to make the journey through Duncan’s fountain of youth, and the certification process last month presented an obstacle that will delay the completion of the project by about a month-and-a-half.

The goal of the flight-deck makeover is to marry Honeywell Primus Epic displays with largely original background electronics. Honeywell had made some internal board changes to the integrated aircraft computer “to improve functionality and
to improve the displays,” a company representative told AIN. The FAA, said Honeywell, had previously regarded such changes as minor, but this time it wants the Honeywell and Duncan technicians to perform more qualification/assurance testing to earn a TSO. They will send the data to the FAA on August 21, and the agency, under current expectations, will spend the next weeks studying it before approving the box on September 15. In the meantime, Duncan can flight-test the modified Falcon in the experimental category using a “red label” box.

The originally predicted delivery date for the completed airplane was August 18, but Duncan officials on July 19 were forced to revise the handover date to the end of September to accommodate 30 days of Duncan testing and another 10 days for FAA flight-testing. The airplane will be physically complete by August 18, Duncan has told aircraft operator Volo Aviation, lacking only the certified box.

The aircraft was due to emerge from the paint shop on July 21, followed a day later by the arrival of a Honeywell team in Lincoln to participate in installing the avionics boxes and displays and, on Sunday July 23, begin the power-on checks. Duncan expected to  begin flight-testing the airplane on August 14.

As for the cabin, Duncan interior specialist Tracey Boesch explained that the new furnishings will provide a “more curved, smoother, contemporary look inside,” illuminated by downwash LED lighting.

The cabin will end up with the same number of seats that it had before, but they will be new motorized chairs made by DeCrane. The original windows will be retained, but they will get re-covered shades. The floor will be covered with new carpet. The lower portion of the galley will be retained but modified to bring it up to date in appearance and functionality, but the upper galley will be all-new and carry the curved theme of other interior fittings. The galley gets a new TIA thermal oven and a Sharp microwave oven, as well as an espresso machine (“a high-priority item for the owner,” according to Boesch).

Robert Tod, director of aviation for Volo Aviation, passed news of the delay to the owner on July 19, and reported that his reaction was “mild,” likely because of Duncan and Honeywell’s assurance that, beyond August 18, they would provide a replacement airplane at the DOCs of his airplane.

Both Volo and the owner appreciate the fact that their airplane is the pioneering Falcon for this flight-deck makeover and that ambushes await all frontier expeditions. Tod noted that both Duncan and Honeywell have been “exceptional” in communicating with  Volo about the process.