Dubai Airshow

Turning the Upgrade Biz Inside Out

 - November 17, 2019, 11:26 PM
Jet Aviation Majlis concept for Boeing 777X

Whether creating the interior of a new VIP aircraft, upgrading the tired cabin of a commercial airliner, or any project in between, the world’s leading completion and refurbishment specialists stand ready to offer solutions, and they’re displaying their capabilities at the Dubai Airshow.

For heads of state seeking the latest technology for VVIP wide-body completions, Fort Worth, Texas-based GDC Technics (Stand 1756) this year delivered a pair of BBJ 787s to an undisclosed state customer that incorporate important firsts: Ka-band satcom antennas and Live TV. CEO Brad Foreman said these completions also feature forward-looking, downward-zoom, and tail cameras; humidification system and therapeutic oxygen discharge ports; and insulation that lowers noise sound interface levels to an extremely 47.5 dB. Interior weight was 20 percent below industry-standard estimates, “providing our client with an operational advantage and fuel savings,” Foreman added.

GDC arrives under new ownership, following its February assumption by Oriole Capital Group, Trive Capital, and Maz Aviation. The new ownership “broadens GDC’s market reach and industry expertise,” said Maz Aviation chairman Mohammad Alzeer at the announcement, calling 2019 “a transformative year for the company.”

Customers keen to combine old-world craftsmanship with state-of-the-art cabin technology will appreciate Basel-based Jet Aviation’s (Chalet A11) emphasis on in-house capabilities that cover “almost every element of the completions process,” said Jeremie Caillet, v-p of VIP completion programs. “Upholstery, carpentry, electrics, sheet metal work, paint, and installation are all performed in Basel.”

New skills and technologies are always in development, and for each custom completion, Jet Aviation’s prototyping process “allows production to test drive any new ideas and present them to customers for sign-off before final production begins,” Caillet said. He added prototyping is particularly helpful when working with an external design firm “that doesn't have day-to-day contact with the Jet Aviation workshops.”

Citadel Completions (Chalet A6) arrives at the Dubai Airshow on the heels of partnering with Saudi Arabia’s VIP wide-body design and completion consultancy Aviation Link, and Citadel is showcasing its first joint project: a VIP conversion plan for the ultra-long-range Airbus A340-500. This has already “has generated significant interest in the Middle East, Africa and Asia,” according to the U.S. completion facility.

Citadel has demonstrated expertise in the platform. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his family bought and renamed the company after it had performed the conversion on his own A340-500, and the proposed interiors were designed by Adelson, Citadel’s president and CEO, according to managing director Joe Bonita.

Citadel’s two available floorplans each feature a stateroom, executive lounge, and first, business, and economy cabins. The VIP lounge is certified for 15 passengers for takeoff and landing and can seat 19 during flight.  The first-class cabin seats 12, business accommodates 28, and 48 economy seats are in the rear cabin, still leaving room for 7,000 cu ft of baggage. 

Aviation Link president and CEO Abdulaziz Al Rowaished noted the A340-500 offers “exceptional performance capabilities with a young airframe, four-engine safety, global support, no ETOPS restrictions, and a range of over 9,000 nm...and provides a surprising and very compelling price point.”

Year-old Citadel, which made its debut at MEBAA 2018, has already completed several VIP interior refurbishment and heavy maintenance projects and in July added approved maintenance organization certification from the UAE’s GCAA to its approvals from the FAA, EASA, and Bermuda’s CAA. This gives Citadel authorization to maintain and modify UAE-registered aircraft.

Fokker Services (Stand 315), a division of GKN that has extensive experience in bespoke aircraft completions and refurbishments, is highlighting in Dubai its commercial aircraft refurbishment capabilities, available for both Fokker and other aircraft types. Offerings include new interior lining kits, larger-capacity luggage bins, improved PSU panels and seat designs, along with a variety of cabin upgrades designed to enhance the quality and atmosphere of the cabin.

High-quality metal plating, a staple of VIP cabin interiors, is an art and science of its own, and Signature Plating (Stand 1845), in its Dubai Airshow debut, is showcasing its custom metal-plating capabilities, spanning more than 150 finish options and custom color matching. Last year the U.S. company introduced metal-on-plastic plating, offering opportunities for “reducing the weight in some cases by half, and that equates into significant fuel savings,” said Signature v-p of sales Zane Leake.

Parts that could be replaced by plastic include headrest bezels; seat-adjustment levers and the recessed seat bezels they’re often set in; placards; surrounds that border electronics switches; passenger service units and gaspers; and light trim. “We’re looking at anything that’s not structural,” Leake said.