Completion specialist L-3 Platform Integration of Waco, Texas reported at EBACE 2014 “significant progress” on completing two 747-8 VVIP aircraft for undisclosed customers. One of the aircraft is slated to become the first ever 747-8 VVIP completion.
Installation of high-bandwidth ViaSat satcom systems on the two aircraft was completed in February and April, respectively. The systems feature 36-inch Ku-band antennas on the upper fuselage, each antenna installed under a low-profile, aerodynamically optimized radome, providing speeds of up to 4 Mbps on the uplink and 1 Mbps on the downlink.
“The confidence of our team was high going into this job and has only grown as we have leveraged our experience to mitigate potential issues early,” said Ken McAlpin, v-p of VIP/head-of-state programs. “The newer technology and systems on the aircraft are allowing us to provide a better solution for our customers.”
McAlpin noted that L-3 has extensive experience with 747 VIP completions, having performed the very first, a background that has proved invaluable with the current projects, particularly in the decompression modeling needed for aircraft certification. The -8 has higher decompression pressure requirements than previous models, which impacts flight-critical systems and loads on the structure, all of which affect the interior design and completions work. The first completed 747-8 is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2014.
In addition to its interiors solutions, the company can also offer its VIP customers an L-3 aircraft elevator system and the L-3 aircraft threat countermeasures solution.
Reflecting the robust demand for its VIP completions, L-3 also announced in Geneva an expansion of its cabinetry capabilities, more than doubling its 10,000-sq-ft shop to 24,000 sq ft, representing an $850,000 investment. The expanded cabinetry area will feature a dedicated CNC router machine for custom fabrication of metal, wood and composite parts, as well as other new machinery to complement the existing shop’s full machining and woodworking capabilities.
L-3 has notched 50 VIP aircraft completions on models including the Boeing Business Jet, 777, 767, 757 and 737, as well as the Airbus A340 and A310 and McDonnell Douglas/Boeing MD-11. The L-3 modification facility is a Boeing-recognized completion center for both widebody aircraft and business jets.