Completions & Refurbishment Special Report: Cabin Interiors Activity Heats Up

 - July 1, 2019, 7:32 AM
Recently launched Citadel Completions is looking to make a name for itself in the widebody market, anticipating an uptick in demand.

Introductions of new business jets and executive airliners, robust preowned transaction activity, and downtime associated with avionics installations are among the factors driving an uptick in demand for cabin completions and aftermarket upgrades.

“The market for completions and refurbishments is picking up,” said AMAC Aerospace COO Bernd Schramm at Geneva’s EBACE show in May. U.S. MRO Constant Aviation has “never seen as many quotes go out as over the past eight months,” said v-p  for interiors Scott McCool, while Lufthansa Technik senior director of sales for VIP and special-mission aircraft Wieland Timm averred, “We think there’s a huge opportunity for the total VIP community.”

Herewith are key developments behind some of the action.

At the Completion Centers

Basel-based VIP airliner specialist AMAC Aerospace has in completion the first Airbus ACJ320neo (with an Alberto Pinto interior design for the UK’s Acropolis Aviation) and a Boeing 747-8. The 19-passenger neo’s master bedroom suite will include a large shower, a de rigeur feature in today’s bizliners. For the 747-8, full-scale Styrofoam mockups of the interior components have been created to provide a sense of scale for refining the widebody’s interior design.

Two BBJ Maxes—AMAC’s first—are inbound for completions: a Max 8 arriving this fall for a “cozy, homey” interior design installation; and a Max 9, with an open, modular cabin conceived by interior designer Gaugain, slated for mid-2020 induction, said Schramm.

Aeria, BBJ Dining
Aeria, BBJ Dining

Having received Bombardier authorized service center approval a year ago, the Swiss company has begun construction of Hangar 5, dedicated to Bombardier MRO and refurbishments, at its Basel base, with completion expected in mid-2020. The low-slung, 54,000-sq-ft facility can accommodate up to eight Globals and Challengers simultaneously.

VIP airliner specialist Comlux Completion in May marked delivery of its first VIP widebody completion—an A330—following the March induction of the first of three ACJ320neos slated for completions. Last December a Max 8—the first BBJ Max—arrived for completion, the interior designed by Peter Marino Architect.

Comlux executive chairman and CEO Richard Gaona cited the widebody project as the “perfect example” of synergies within the Swiss company’s divisions, noting in addition to design and completion, they handled all other aspects of the aircraft’s acquisition, subsequent sale and, now, operation via its AOC registry in Aruba. (Comlux also has AOCs from Malta, Switzerland, San Marino, and Kazakhstan; Gaona cited a client confidentiality agreement in declining to provide images of the A330’s interior.)

Nature’s Touch by Lufthansa Technik
Nature’s Touch by Lufthansa Technik

Gaona said widebody completions are much more challenging than those for single-aisle models, particularly in meeting certification standards such as cabin decompression requirements. With three times the interior space, widebodies also require some three times the man-hours and twice the lead time of a single-aisle VIP airliner completion. 

Under Comlux Completion’s new management team of CEO Daron Dryer and executive v-p Domingo Ureña-Raso, the purpose-built completion center in Indianapolis, Indiana, appears intent on moving aggressively into competition for next-generation VIP widebodies, including the ACJ350 XWB and BBJ777X.

Germany’s Lufthansa Technik (LHT) this year introduced two new VIP airliner interior concepts: the first, “Nature’s Touch,” an East-meets-West theme created with China’s Ameco for the ACJ320 or BBJ; and the second, “Sky Retreat,” in anticipation of a yet-to-be-offered ACJ220.

Nature’s Touch, unveiled at Shanghai’s ABACE show in April, employs traditional Chinese colors, complementing bamboo and other natural materials including marble, leather, wool, and silk. Interior features include a gourmet galley and cinema with a 75-inch roll-up/down screen.

LHT offered a sneak peak of SkyRetreat, its VIP A220 concept, at EBACE in May. The stripped down, “unconventional design” resembles the cabin of a yacht more than that of a VIP airliner, and incorporates cutting-edge technologies such as a voice-controlled CMS and “smart touch” surfaces. A dining table “looks normal but can transform into a chessboard, or a monitor for PowerPoint presentations, or a dining table,” said Timm, adding that the A220 “provides an incredible amount of space for breathtaking VIP interiors." A “totally unique” Observation Lounge awaits SkyRetreat’s full reveal at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.

The two single-aisle VIP cabin concepts follow LHT’s Welcome Home cabin concept for the forthcoming jumbo ACJ350 XWB, unveiled at the last year’s NBAA Convention, and reflects an increase in completions demand. “We have signed several contracts for new narrow-body and as well as widebody aircraft,” the latter including the ACJ350 XWB, A330neo, and BBJ 787 and 777X, said Timm, who projects the coming VIP completion market to grow to about four wide- and eight narrow-body green completions annually.

Switzerland’s Jet Aviation and ACA Advanced Computer Art created for Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) a 3D video of the Swiss company’s Shaheen VIP cabin concept for the new BBJ 777X, unveiled in December in concert with the aircraft’s introduction at MEBAA. BBJ debuted the video, along with a virtual reality display of the interior at EBACE in May, enabling guests to get an inside experience of the cabin.

Taking advantage of the BBJ 777X’s size, the Shaheen cabin features lounges, a game and cinema area, stately office, private workspaces, three guest bedrooms, and a master suite. Weight and space savings are optimized through fiber optics and technology-integrated furniture, as well as intelligent LED and OLED lighting and Smart Glass technology. Jet Aviation’s last five projects were, on average, 9 percent lighter than requirements, said Jeremie Caillet, v-p of VIP completion programs. “Lighter interiors allow customers to either reduce their carbon footprint for a set mission or increase their payload or additional range,” he noted.

The Basel-based company’s large-aircraft team is currently performing an extensive refurbishment on a VIP widebody and recently re-delivered a new VVIP-configured aircraft, both models and customers undisclosed.

Citadel Completions, having launched in March 2018, is “positioning [itself] to be ready for the market when an upswing comes,” said managing director Joe Bonita, and the company anticipates that uptick “in the next two to three years.” Based at Louisiana’s Chennault International Airport, Citadel’s facilities include two hangars totaling some 260,000 sq ft, one able to house two 747s simultaneously, Bonita said. At MEBAA last December Citadel showcased by invitation a VIP ACJ340-500 that displays the company’s interior design, completions and refurbishment capabilities, the cabin featuring expansive open areas and some seven private sleeping areas. The aircraft owner, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the Adelson family, who commissioned the refurbishment from the facility under its previous owners, subsequently bought the completion complex.

Citadel owns the STCs developed for the A340’s refurbishment and “if [buyers] like that floor plan, a completion could be done in the same plan very quickly,” Bonita said, noting Airbus is due to receive several A340s back from lease that will be available for VIP retrofits. The platform boasts globe-girdling range combined with excellent runway performance. “Studies we did show there are very few airports this airplane can’t get into that BBJs or other executive airliners can get into,” Bonita said.

Boeing widebody completion specialist Greenpoint Technologies has introduced the Lotus interior, a Boeing-commissioned head-of-state interior design concept for the BBJ 777X. Inspired by the flower that holds special spiritual significance in the East, Lotus incorporates celestial and organic elements from Asia-Pacific cultures to create “a contemporary, functional design featuring the luxuries of a world class hotel.” Features include a grand, circular entry way, elevated lounge, sunken media area, backlit bar, a library with an OLED screen fireplace, and a layered ceiling with adjustable LED starry night scene. The en suite bath in the master suite has heated black marble flooring, towel warmers, and black marble vanity with imbedded monitor. Materials and fabrics include American walnut, Calcutta Gold marble, chrome, white embossed leather, and silk and Italian woven wool carpeting.

Aeria Luxury Interiors has two B737s in house, one for a head-of-state completion and one undergoing a full executive refurbishment, with interiors both developed by the San Antonio, Texas company’s in-house design team in consultation with the owners. The head-of-state project, for a customer in Central Asia, has a VIP stateroom and full-shower lav, along with office/meeting room, staff seating, and separate crew and passenger galleys and lavs. Luxury touches include gold plating, ornate detailing, fine wood and luxurious fabrics. Elements of the new Boeing Sky peripheral system are incorporated, as is the latest version of the Astronics CCC CMS/ IFE system. Inducted in May 2018, delivery is scheduled for December, but Aeria expects to deliver the aircraft “much earlier,” said v-p and GM Ron Soret.

Meanwhile, the cabin refurbishment, performed for a Los Angeles-based charter operator, incorporates a range of enhancements including all new wood surfaces, seat and interior panel re-upholstery, faux wood flooring, new carpets, and a partial reconfiguration of the aft cabin. At press time, delivery was scheduled in June.

Aloft AeroArchitects ended 2018 with the delivery to a private company in Asia of a new BBJ2 with an Edése Doret-designed interior incorporating an Astronics CMS and Honeywell Ka-Band connectivity. The Delaware-based company is now refurbishing a BBJ on which it installed the existing interior 12 years ago. The new cabin, by Warja Borges of Germany’s Unique Aircraft, is being installed in conjunction with the execliner’s 12-year check and landing gear overhaul.

OEM Interiors

Boeing Business Jets introduced at MEBAA 2018 the newest member of its family, the BBJ 777X. Able to fly more than halfway around the world, the widebody BBJ “redefines ultra-long-range VIP travel,” said Greg Laxton, head of BBJ.

The BBJ 777X will be available in two models: The BBJ 777-8 and BBJ 777-9 and features the tallest and widest executive airliner cabin. It incorporates the Smooth Ride technology developed for the 787, which takes pressure readings from the pitot and static ports to determine turbulence levels and adjusts the fly-by-wire flight controls to dampen oscillations.

Clay Lacy Aviation’s new maintenance shop
Clay Lacy Aviation’s new maintenance shop at Van Nuys also provides plenty of room for completions operations.

BBJ also unveiled interior concepts from completion specialists Greenpoint Technologies and Jet Aviation, and from German design firm Unique Aircraft Design, illustrating how the BBJ 777X “can be transformed to meet the tastes of any VIP customer,” BBJ said.

Jet Aviation’s concept Shaheen, which means royal white falcon, is designed to accommodate 43 passengers plus a crew of 11.

Greenpoint’s design, named Lotus, features an open floor plan, with monuments attached only to the floor.

No launch customer for the BBJ 777X, available in Q1 2021, has yet appeared, Laxton said at its launch. Meanwhile, as the world at large discusses the grounding of the B737 Max, effects on the BBJ Max program have gone largely unmentioned. As of last year’s NBAA Convention, BBJ reported logging orders for 20 BBJ Max 7/8/9 airframes. AIN asked Boeing if any BBJ Max orders have been canceled as a result of customer concerns or whether deliveries have been affected, but received no response before press time. Bernd Schramm, COO at AMAC Aerospace, which has two Maxes slated for induction, said the grounding and recertification issues were “slowing down a little bit the BBJ Max completion” activity, but “the customers we have are committed to the aircraft. We just need to know exactly when” the issues will be resolved, said Schramm.

Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ), on the verge of delivering its first ACJ319neo, is seeing strong demand across both its single-aisle and widebody VIP platforms. The first of the new neos goes to German charter operator K5 Aviation, with cabin outfitting by the Netherlands’ Fokker Techniek. With eight passengers, the ACJ319 neo can reach its maximum 6,749-nm range, holding a 6,400-foot cabin altitude.

The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has ordered an A321LR to replace the Boeing 757 the luxury lodging and tour package provider currently uses for its deluxe air tours. The 4,000-nm A321LR will be outfitted with a spacious lounge, 48 lie-flat seats with ottomans, and two large lavs. EASA and the FAA granted certification last fall.

Duncan Aviation Provo, Utah
Duncan Aviation Provo, Utah

Airbus has also sold four of its flagship-to-be ACJ350 XWBs this year: Three -900 variants will be configured for a mix of government, troop transport, and medical evacuation roles for Germany, the first government customer. First delivery comes in 2020.

The fourth order came from a private customer, and all four ACJ350s will be delivered with ACJ’s Easyfit pre-installed cabin outfitting attachments, simplifying interior component installations in the composite airframe.

Bombardier Business Aircraft introduced for its flagship Global 7500 a circadian rhythm-based cabin lighting system designed to combat the effects of jet lag. The Soleil (French for sun) Dynamic Lighting System uses changing combinations of red and blue light wavelengths that studies have shown stimulate or suppress melatonin—a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It’s engineered to help align passengers’ circadian rhythms to their travel, said Bombardier Business Aircraft (BBA) manager, industrial design, Tim Fagan, adding, “I think we're just scratching the surface on how we can better take care of our passengers onboard the aircraft in terms of wellness.”

Fully integrated with the aircraft’s flight management system through the Global 7500’s Lufthansa Technik nice Touch CMS, Soleil uses information in the active flight plan and proprietary algorithms to calculate the appropriate circadian-based lighting changes for the flight.

With the Global 5500 and 6500 on track to enter service this year, Bombardier has unveiled a new interior feature for the ultra-long-range twinjets: the Nuage (French for “cloud”) chaise, a lounge chair that converts to a flat surface.

Cousin to the Nuage seat, the Nuage chaise features an ergonomically perfected lounge position, adjustable via a simple pneumatic lever, allowing the chaise to be used for meetings, banquet style dining, and sleeping when laid flat, “broadening the utility of the whole cabin,” Bombardier said. The sleek minimalist style, devoid of visible support struts, complements the cabin’s open, spacious ambiance; moving parts of the pneumatically operated system are concealed.

Bombardier also unveiled at EBACE in May an updated Challenger 350, whose cabin now incorporates an enhanced soundproofing package, reducing the already low sound level by 1 to 2 dB SIL, and up to 4-5 dB SIL lower than previous CL300 models, said BBA director of product strategy and design Mathieu Noel.

Embraer introduced at the NBAA Convention last October the Praetor 500 and 600; upgraded, extended-range versions of the Legacy 450 and 500 respectively, which for now remain in production. The restyled interior is named Bossa Nova, translating to “new trend,” and in the Praetors’ case, a cabin that delights in displaying intracacies mimicking high-end watches and automobiles without exposing the underlying technology. It “treats the owner to a love of details,” said v-p interior design Jay Beever. The cabin’s upper tech panel, for example, adapted from the Phenom 300, hosts passive electronic switches that appear only when needed.

Bossa Nova’s appointments include a reinvented diamond stitching on the seats inspired by Rio’s beachfront promenade; carbon-fiber finishes on tables; and an optional three-seat divan with “a perfect 105-degree seating angle,” said Beever. “Most divans are like a park bench, with straight-up backs. Nobody wants to sit in them.”

MROs/Refurbishment Providers

After providing maintenance at its Provo, Utah facility for more than a decade, Duncan Aviation has added refurbishment to the location’s services menu. Duncan launched a phased service entry of the new 275,000-sq-ft space, which includes two maintenance and completion hangars and a paint facility. Full-service back shops and offices, the last phase, are slated for an early 2020 opening. The paint facility completed its first project in May, a complex metallic black-to-charcoal fade applied on a Global 5000. That capped a year of innovations from its cabinetry/finish shop including creating removable table inserts, allowing customers “to customize the flight experience for the different seasons, highlight different designs, showcase logos, or celebrate special events or game days,” said Nate Klenke, Duncan’s manager for completions service sales.

Hydrographic finishing for a multitude of interior components offers a variety of different looks including wood grain, stone, metals and custom designs, without weight restraints or engineering requirements. Duncan also offers complementary spectra chrome graphics, providing “a variety of custom design possibilities” when deployed in tandem, Klenke said. The Provo facility also recently added a new 3D patterning software and a stitching machine for creating additional custom seat design options including perforation, quilting, and decorative stitching.

The name Clay Lacy Aviation doesn’t leap to mind among refurbishment providers, but the full-service charter management company aims to change that with its new 70,000-sq-ft maintenance facility at its Van Nuys headquarters. “Our focus has always been to provide a one-stop shop experience for managed clients,” said Clay Lacy v-p of maintenance Ed Mirzakhanian. “But with our new dedicated [maintenance] space we’re transitioning to serving non-managed clients.”

The facility includes 10,000 sq ft of interiors back shops. Bringing wood finishing in-house has been a challenge due to California’s process for issuing permits, but the company anticipates approval for a spray booth. A 700-sq-ft design showroom is stocked with sample fabrics, carpeting, seat leathers, sidewall and panel materials, woods and finishes, in a multitude of color palettes.

With a full avionics shop, Clay Lacy has begun leveraging FANS-1A and ADS-B upgrades developed in house for its managed Gulfstream GIV, GV, and Challenger 601 fleets.

Four Seasons A321LR
Four Seasons A321LR

“Once ADS-B demand slows,” Mirzakhanian said, which he suspects will be sometime after the January 1, 2020 mandate takes effect in the U.S., “we’ll refocus on connectivity and cabin management.”

Phenom 100/300 operators needing refurbs—and service—can take advantage of Clay Lacy’s Embraer Phenom service center authorization, while third-party Falcon operators can access the services it already offers to its own growing managed fleet of more than 20 of the French jets.

Elliott Aviation is expanding from MRO to OEM, having introduced from sister company Elliott Technologies its in-house designed and built Prizm LED cabin lighting system, and electronically dimmable window Smart Vision Shades, to be available in the aftermarket through Part 145 repair stations. STCs for the lighting and shade systems were granted late last year and PMA approval for parts manufacture came in March. The Prizm system provides both white and full spectrum RGB, or “mood” lighting, for the price that competing systems charge for white alone, said v-p of avionics programs and operational logistics Mark Wilken. Having used the systems for its own refurbishment clients, the company is now establishing manufacturing capability and a dealer/installer network.

Meanwhile, refurbishment business is brisk, with clients falling into three basic categories: aircraft brokers refurbishing an aircraft for sale; management companies ensuring client interiors and upgrades are economical and charter-friendly; and owners—often new— seeking to personalize their jets, said Elliott’s director of paint and interior sales Meghan Welch. That last category gives Elliott’s design team creative license. “We’re bringing their personality into their airplane and making it their home,” said Welch. “Everything they want to accomplish in flight, we’re able to provide in that aircraft.”

A current Citation Encore+ refurbishment features an additional galley installed in the aft cabin to ensure owners have quick access to all the in-flight refreshments desired, along with customized storage racks for rocks glasses.

Demand for paint is also strong, and the facility at Elliott’s Moline, Illinois headquarters can accommodate aircraft as large as the Falcon 900 and 2000 series. Pearl finishes are popular: “A lot of two-tones, with darker color on the tail and engines more than in the past,” said Welch, adding, “You’ve got to be careful with metallic paint on the radome, and understand the aircraft’s ‘cans’ and ‘can’t-dos.’”

Elliott’s recently certified Prizm system
Elliott’s recently certified Prizm system provides both white and mood lighting.

Bombardier completion, refurbishment, and MRO specialist Flying Colours heads into its 30th year in the midst of infrastructure expansions at its St. Louis, Missouri and Peterborough, Ontario (Canada) headquarters facilities. The HQ location is getting additional paint capacity and space for completions and heavy refurbishments, expected to be operational by year-end. St. Louis’s new hangar and shop space will help support the company’s growing Gulfstream and Falcon business in addition to Global and Challenger projects.

Some of the workflow at both locations is expected to come from Europe. “We’re trying to get a little more international and bring more European clients to North America,” said executive v-p Eric Gillespie. “We haven’t been knocking on doors.” The company recently hired a sales manager for Europe and believes the expanded facilities, turn times, and pricing “will make it a good value proposition for heavy inspections and modifications,” Gillespie said.

Meanwhile, its Asia-Pacific business is active. In May Bombardier renewed the refurbishment services agreement with Flying Colours at the MRO’s recently expanded and co-located facility at Singapore’s Seletar Airport, where four full and three partial refurbishments on Challengers and Globals have been completed to date. Most recently, the facility performed a full refurb on a 14-passenger Global XRS in conjunction with extensive maintenance, following its purchase by a China-based customer.

Gillespie was among aftermarket providers who noted, “Connectivity is becoming a key part of any refurbishment” as owners “want to emulate the [Wi-Fi] ground experience in the air.” Flying Colours has seen strong demand for Ka-band as well as ADS-B installs, and expects demand for the latter to persist beyond the U.S. January 1, 2020 compliance date.

Stevens Aerospace and Defense Systems—the former Stevens Aviation—in March relocated its large-cabin business jet services from its Greensville, North Carolina HQ to Macon’s Middle Georgia Regional Airport, taking over a 48,000-sq-ft hangar Bombardier previously vacated at the city-owned airport. Stevens hopes to add a paint shop. Owners of out-of-warranty Gulfstreams seeking an alternative to factory service are one focus. “For older Gulfstreams, we can provide more flexible options,” said operations manager Rick Screen, a former Gulfstream general manager. “The factory wants to do everything to factory-new standards, and sometimes that’s not the most practical solution.” The facility is less than 130 miles west of Gulfstream’s Savannah, Georgia home.

Michigan’s Pentastar Aviation has completed cabin refurbishments on two Gulfstreams (a G450 and G550) and a Bombardier Global Express, all “very large in scale,” said Pentastar director of interiors Gordon Ross, adding, “That’s our specialty.” Both Gulfstreams were recently purchased and the new owners “wanted to personalize” and update the cabins, he said. Work included soft-goods replacement, refinished veneers, LED lighting and new Wi-Fi connectivity systems.

Ross also reported Pentastar, after researching fabrics, is now using hand-woven textiles and carpets rather than mass-produced materials for covering divans and floors in large-cabin refurbs. Hand-woven fabrics have a “thicker type of consistency, provide a lot of comfort,” and also allow more personalization. Upgraded sound insulation packages and wood refurb are also getting more attention. “We spend a lot of time doing R&D on wood finishes and techniques,” Ross said of the latter. “We like to hone those skills and our knowledge base.”

The move to a larger airframe can present interior design challenges to an upgrading owner, as a just-completed West Star Aviation refurbishment of a Gulfstream GIV illustrated. Moving up from a mid-size Citation, the owner didn’t fully understand the design possibilities and processes, said Veta Traxler, paint and interior lead designer at the Alton, Illinois-based MRO. “He came to our design center in Grand Junction [Colorado] with his residential designer,” and in addition to viewing sample materials, with owners’ permissions he was able to see real examples of interior possibilities in the Gulfstreams on hand, Traxler said. Yet perhaps most helpful were the 3D renderings the team prepared that “really give the customer the idea of what it’s going to look like, instead of just putting material in front of them.” One result: the density of the carpet pattern was dialed down. With the cost of producing such renderings shrinking, West Star is using the technology for more projects, and with 3D walk-throughs of homes for sale and similar applications becoming common, “People are asking for it more and more,” Traxler said.

Meanwhile, the GIV’s color palette went from beige to gray and black, with metal fixtures plated in satin ultra-black, and new LED lighting, electrically dimmable window shades, leather inlays in the tables, and seats reupholstered with two-tone perforated square quilting in the center. West Star did the paint, too, at its Grand Junction, Colorado paint facility.

Quilted seats “have been really hot,” Traxler noted, with requests for them growing, but cautioned “a big cost factor comes into play,” as among other costs, the seats require an additional fire block.

Most current interior refurbishment demand at Cleveland-based Constant Aviation is driven by Constant’s Challenger 604XT Pro Line Fusion program, with customers for the flight deck upgrade using the downtime for cabin refreshments. New carpet, upholstery, refinishing, and even cabin reconfigurations are often part of the work scope, along with FANS-1A and new CMS installs.

In addition to Challenger upgrades, over the past year, Constant, which is the refurbishment division of Directional Aviation Capital, has also redesigned, reconfigured, and refurbed two Bombardier Global 6000s and three Gulfstreams (a G650 and two G450s). Constant reconfigured the G650 cabin to halve the galley and create a crew rest area so the customer “could fly to Europe without issues,” McCool said.

Cabin Systems and Materials

In November, Honeywell International completed in November “the largest single aircraft update within the business jet space,” on a Bombardier Global Express the avionics and flight systems OEM said, announcing plans to offer similar branded renovations to the aftermarket.

“We have the ability to manage these complex retrofit programs completely with best-in-class partners,” said Honeywell regional leader, EMEA & APAC, retrofits, modifications and upgrades Arnaud Renard at EBACE, where the program was launched.

The tip-to-tail interior Global Express upgrade, planned with and performed by German MRO ACC Columbia Jet Service, incorporated Honeywell’s latest cockpit, cabin, and connectivity systems. The result created “the equivalent of a new aircraft at 10 percent of the cost,” according to Honeywell. Honeywell and ACC Columbia will continue to collaborate on Global Express upgrades, with SmartView Synthetic Vision system retrofits, expected to be available later this year, a specific focus.

The Global Express project was an outgrowth of work at Honeywell’s Retrofits, Modifications & Upgrades Center of Excellence, established three years ago in Phoenix, Arizona, with the goal of expanding the company’s aftermarket offerings. Honeywell is working with its network of authorized service centers to identify potential program partners for the makeovers on the MRO and completion center side.

A year after then Rockwell Collins announced partnering with Comlux to bring its cabin products to the latter’s VIP airliner completion and refurbishment programs, full or partial Collins Aerospace cabin systems have been selected for three projects: an A320neo and BBJ completion, and a BBJ refurbishment. The Collins completions/refurbishment products portfolio includes avionics, CMS, and IFE options, seating, lighting and galley products, in addition to honeycomb panels and ArincDirect connectivity and flight services. Using one vendor for a full range of products like these allows for “optimized completion cycles and a streamlined design process for our VIP cabins,” said Comlux Completion CEO Daron Dryer.

Collins has also enhanced its Stage on-demand business aircraft IFE offering to include both wireless and wired options, installed in-factory on a new aircraft for the first time: a recently delivered Dassault Falcon. Collins director of cabin systems Jon Kunkel said offering both wired and non-wired options “simplifies access to inflight entertainment while providing customers with more flexibility.” The new wired option integrates easily with Venue Cabin Management service to play content on bulkhead monitors and individual seat displays. Content is accessible wirelessly via smart devices including phones and tablets.

VIP rotorcraft interior specialist Mecaer Aviation Group delivered the first Bell 505 Jet Ranger X in North America outfitted with Mecaer’s "Magnificent" interior. The Magnificent interior includes all interior panels; seats (built up from standard frames) and leather upholstery; low-pile carpeting; and a rear passenger service unit with adjustable reading and mood lights, gaspers, and air conditioning outlets. It’s available in color palettes of soft whites, creams, blues, or grays. It borrows elements from the MAG VIP interiors created for the Bell 429 GlobalRanger light twin and forthcoming 525 Relentless, but “doing a smaller helicopter was a challenge,” said Maximo Pugnali, president of the Italian company. More sporty than plush, the installation brings panache to what is often an owner-flown platform. And weighing less than 70 pounds, the option “will be a no-brainer” for VIP buyers, Pugnali said. The kits are produced at MAG’s Cabin Comfort Systems headquarters in Monteprandone, Italy, and installations are performed at the company’s U.S. facility in Philadelphia.

About 20 to 30 percent of Bell 505 buyers are opting for the Magnificent interior, according to MAG.

Customer Helite Aviation will use the Bell 505 for VIP transport from its downtown Montreal heliport.

Cabin interior materials distributor OmnAvia has introduced new leather and fabric lines amid an expansion of offerings for its MRO and interiors shop customers. The additions include BluSky Armor, a clear coat for veneer cabinetry that, used in combination with proprietary low-cost and safe LED UV lighting, can cure in two minutes, said OmnAvia managing partner Robin Butler, calling the product “disruptive technology.” 

Another new offering, leather alternative Izit Platinum FR, from Willow, Texas, is an inherently flame resistant, knit polyester backing that’s easy to fit on seats and offers a 20 percent price advantage over popular woven fabrics, Butler said. For customers looking for genuine leather, the Winston-Salem North Carolina materials specialist is now the exclusive U.S. distributor for Austrian leather company Wollsdorf Leder.

Reflecting the growing complexity of cabin systems, training provider FlightSafety International (FSI) in May added a Master Technician Cabin Systems program to its master tech training portfolio. The five courses in the cabin curriculum are Avionics Standard Practices; aeroIT; Cabin Connectivity; Integrated Cabin Management Systems; and Cabin Systems Operational Maintenance Program.

Master technician programs aim “to help technicians develop a higher level of skill and increase their problem-solving ability” and “enhance their contributions to the safety, reliability and operating efficiency of the aircraft,” said FSI.