London-based Andrew Winch Designs is well on its way to establishing its brand in the aviation sector, having worked on 12 completions and two refurbishments in the past decade. The company will end the year with the delivery of an ACJ, A340 and a BBJ2 (based on the 737-800), said Jim Dixon, Andrew Winch’s director and head of the aviation design department, told AIN here at the show yesterday. The company also expects to deliver two more next year.
Stringent certification requirements are making aviation design more challenging and restrictive, said Dixon, who added that regulations often are made while a design is under way, leading to upheaval in the design studio. He cited the example of a rule change three years ago on materials that stipulated the use of polycarbonates (such as Lexan) in place of glass. “We had already bought the lamps [for the A340] off the shelf and had to back track and create lamps in the certified material. This resulted in loss of time and money for the client,” he said. The aircraft was delivered to Jet Aviation 10 days ago, he said.
In other areas, too, stricter materials specifications have made the company turn to carbon fiber, a hi-tech material on details including chair designs.
Although trends and technology change with time, cultural influences remain, observed Dixon. A Lufthansa Technik-led Boeing BBJ2 project for a Middle East client, for instance, used cream-and-blue interiors–colors popular in the region. A Russian client, however, wanted a design with a more classical influence incorporating heavier and darker colors. Meanwhile, a Boeing 787 the company is working on with Lufthansa “has a clean, futuristic design, with cream, blue and black dramatic colors,” said Dixon.
“For the exterior, some clients prefer a good ramp presence, so they get fluorescent sparkle, though this is difficult to apply and maintain, but others prefer to be discreet,” said Dixon. “One thing is clear: all clients want uniqueness in the design.” As clients get younger–up to early 30s–they look for more contemporary designs, he added.
New technology in the past two years has speeded up work. “A 3-D print of even a door handle is possible,” said Dixon. “On the user-side, we have technology like the iPad: in the last three completions we used iPad-intuitive cabin controls for everything from lighting, to seats, to window shades.”
Security is also a major consideration for business aircraft owners. Dixon said, increasingly, high-net-worth individuals want high-level security systems and cameras incorporated into the design. He also said branding is trendy in the world of corporate aviation. “Clients want a make statement with their aircraft and want a brand signature that is recognizable on the open market, like ‘Hermes with Eurocopter.’ It’s all about reflecting a lifestyle,” he concluded.