NBAA Convention News

Cool Jets Wear Shades

 - October 12, 2018, 2:00 PM
Engineer and Eclipse owner-pilot Kevin Duggan has a product designed to cool your jets.

Jet Shades, making its NBAA Convention debut, is showcasing its new heat- and glare-blocking in-flight interior cockpit shades, available for numerous business and GA aircraft models. The shades block 99.9 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and 57 percent of solar energy, or glare, and also cut infrared radiation—heat—by 79.9 percent, “so it acts like a heat shield,” said Jet Shades founder and inventor Kevin Duggan. An engineer and Eclipse owner, Duggan began developing the product after a particularly hot Florida day on the flight deck. “I was getting really hot in the cockpit and didn’t feel good,” said Duggan. “Being an engineer, I knew what I wanted to do.”

Duggan wanted to find a way to create an effective shading product that met FAA requirements and the realities of cockpit window chemistry. FAA regulations mandate light-transmission levels for aircraft cockpit windows, which limits manufacturers’ ability to add tinting. Additionally, stick-on films and suction cup shades damage windows. Duggan determined the best solution would be a quickly installable and easily removable tinted window panel that fit inside the existing window frame, without touching the windshield. 

He set to work, spending 18 months experimenting with polycarbonates and testing chemical combinations and advanced production processes in creating the product.

“This isn’t something you develop in a garage,” Duggan said, and he’s in a position to know.

As founder of the Institute for Operational Excellence, Duggan, who learned to fly in his 50s, advises major manufacturing companies—Pratt & Whitney, Caterpillar, Sikorsky, Parker Hannifin, Singapore Airlines, SpaceX—on lean manufacturing techniques. In that spirit, Duggan has created a manufacturing facility for Jet Shades incorporating CAD systems, robotic CMM machines, and a clean room environment.

“We do mix-model production,” Duggan said. “We designed the manufacturing process around quick changeovers for responding to the customer, so we can build each order in the order received. Customers can give us an order for one Mirage, one Cirrus, the next a Phenom. We won’t batch orders.”

First displayed at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year, Jet Shades (Booth 3294) has a King Air cockpit mockup at its display here in Orlando with Jet Shades mounted behind the windshield. Visitors can “insert it, push it out, and see how easy” it is to use Jet Shades, Duggan said.

A rack with an assortment of Jet Shades for various aircraft models is also on display, and visitors are welcome to handle them all. Duggan noted, at his Oshkosh booth, visitors could take the shades outside into the sun for a demonstration of their heat-blocking capability.

Jet Shades are available for jets including the Citation 501, 525 (M2), CJ1 and CJ2, and the Eclipse; as well as King Air, Pilatus, TBM, and Piper M-type turboprops; and Cirrus and Columbia pistons. The model list is expanding continually, Duggan said, and for rare models, Jet Shades has free template kits it can send prospective customers so they can provide the measurements for creating custom Jet Shades, which are priced essentially the same as comparable production model shades, he said.

Prices start at $500 per set. Jet Shades for a Citation—which require “massive amounts of chemicals and films, and are expensive for us to make, with optical quality polycarbonate”—list at $1,499, Duggan said.

Now that he’s started a manufacturing company of his own, Duggan said, “we have some pretty neat things in development to help the pilot be cooler and be able to keep the sun from beating in from different angles.” “I guess I can let the cat out of the bag,” he added, naming one: “A portable jet shade, super thin and super light, that airline pilots can carry with them.”