Want to upgrade your aircraft within a small business or startup but have no idea what aspects of civil aircraft optimization to consider? The following data will come in handy!
Experienced engineers that are employed in Boeing or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation acknowledge that aircraft renovation (or refurbishment) resembles a complex puzzle in which all the components are to come together with a certain consistency. In this article, we are going to cast light on what factors engineering teams should emphasize when it comes to upgrading civil aircraft. Searching for aircraft modification solutions for your business? The best option is to check reputable B2B engineering marketplaces where you can find and hire world-class engineers that cope with aircraft upgrades within budget and deadlines.
Table of Contents
Kinds of civil aircraft renovation
First, we suggest getting acquainted with several types of civil aircraft repair that engineering services can offer to clients.
Structural repair of civil aircraft
This repair type is performed when a vehicle possesses serious damage to the body (for example, bulkheads, stringers, external skin, stringers, formers, and so on). Structural damage can happen to an aircraft in several ways: it occurs due to lightning/bird strikes, maintenance stands, and ground service equipment.
Repair of components
When they consider repair of parts, the procedure varies from simple components substitution to a total overhaul. In case a part doesn’t function relevantly, engineers eliminate it from the aircraft and replace it with the part that operates adequately. Then, engineers repair the removed component. The repair practice presupposes identifying the trigger of the damage and substituting the internal components that broke down. This component is dismantled, audited, cleaned, fixed, recompiled, tested, and delivered to service. These practices are executed based on the constituent producer repair manuals.
Maintenance of systems
This type of civil aircraft renovation includes substituting a certain component or part that belongs to aircraft systems (for instance, fuel, pneumatic, hydraulic, pneumatic, and so on). The damaged component is moved away and changed by a novel one.
It is the most challenging and limited type of repair. As a rule, such service presupposes replacements of various engine components. Extensive engine repair is traditionally conducted in a studio with experienced and qualified engineers to dismantle in pieces, clean, monitor, fix, reassemble, and exercise the engine.
When they deal with avionics repairs, this process is treated other than the rest of the elements because they are represented by fragile circuit boards as well as tiny delicate electronic and electrical constituents. To conduct repair of avionics, engineers use special clean rooms.
Now, let’s look at what steps a typical civil aircraft repair includes.
Early planning is vital
Powerful upgrade of civil aircraft is usually performed in detail. Most parts on the renovation agenda grasp a lot more than choosing leather swatches or color samples. The scheduling procedure itself is considered enervating and laborious.
Engineers can require between 10 and 14 months to simply plan such a complicated project. Reputable manufacturers usually engage a couple or more maintenance engineering teams that involve scheduling employees who supervise a set of activities, vendors, and aviation department demands, as well as unique service and audit requirements for every vehicle within the fleet.
The initial task for the scheduling employees is to check the calendar. They should get answers to the queries like “What must be performed for the vehicle at present?” “What additionally should be executed while the vehicle is in the studio?” “What is the next repair activity?” “Can engineers combine any of those parts to minimize downtime and reduce the budget?” and many others.
When they schedule things in advance, the manufacturer gets the opportunity to unite the audit with the entire repair of the aircraft interior together with a novel paint activity.
Renovating the aircraft’s cabin is never simply purchasing new seats or carpets. A cabin upgrade always includes perfecting the cabin control system and optimizing responsiveness based on a new Satcom platform. Then, the time comes to order the new carpets and seats.
Note that there is always a significant difference between the time it needs to finalize a renovation project and the time a contractor is available to perform its work. As far as the best contractors are frequently involved, the procedure gets much more complex.
Planning becomes a must in case they have to deal with the aircraft’s electronics and wiring.
Meet the demands of the end-user
Obviously, any type of renovation activity must be performed based on the aircraft’s specifications represented by the aircraft owner.
Here, communication plays a vital role. It begins at the moment when the owner informs, “I want to renovate the aircraft.”
In the communication process, the aircraft’s owner negotiates with engineers and contractors and here, the target of participating in this process is supervising expectations. The owner possesses a vision for the upgrade that usually involves specific platforms, systems, fixtures, materials, and colors.
The initial task of engineers is to get an idea of what the owner anticipates accomplishing with the repair. Together with system features for CMS and Satcom, their expectations frequently include the view of the aspects, such as leather, color, and cloth.
Nowadays, a wide range of innovative completion companies delivers a 3D rendering of the aircraft cabin, i.e. a computer-designed object that is powerful support for decision-makers to visualize the outcome.
Identify specific details
Engineering teams implement a checklist to control such a challenging procedure. To manage that, they usually use top-performance scheduling software. The owner and engineers want to get extremely detailed quotes from their contractors and suppliers that reveal the scope of work and pricing for every item.
As a rule, the engineering team sends the project/quote to be reviewed by 4 or 5 contractors. They do it to discover the most optimal time and budget while comparing deadlines and costs.
The best quote transforms into a roadmap that contains the list of activities, timelines (with a number of milestones included), and costs.
In this process, it is of utmost importance for the owner to stay personally involved. Permanent individual oversight, in combination with solution milestones, guarantees there are no nasty surprises and it reduces the requirement for unexpected modifications. The last is often connected with concern as well as cost amid a cabin upgrade. This is another ground for detailed scheduling before the aircraft gets located at the studio.
If you perform a modification order, you should understand it can cost a fortune. A sudden modification in the middle of the process frequently means contractors must get back a couple of steps in initially planned work.
When the project is finalized, you should take the time to conduct a fly of the aircraft and introduce corrections, if required. You should audit the paintwork for runs as well as ensure drawers, doors, and cabinets fit and close adequately in flight. Pay attention to the slightest squeaks. It is a good option to do the audit with the studio representatives to manage those bugs momentarily.
Pay specific attention to the interior upgrade
One of the key elements of any aircraft upgrade is considered renovating the interior. Well, the process may be as simple as reconstructing the seats, however, it often presupposes a total realignment of the side panels, upholstery, and headliner. As engineers also have to take off and replace the insulation, you should consider mounting soundproofing.
When they talk about renovating the interior, one aspect to bear in mind is that you should not rely on compensating the price of the interior job if you decide to sell the aircraft. Though your aircraft’s interior can become so old that you should optimize it simply to sell the plane, the maximum you can expect is to get 2-3 % back in the sale.
We advise you to upgrade the interior for personal satisfaction. You probably plan to use the aircraft for a couple of years, so create something you admire every moment you enter the cabin. Well, we don’t recommend you to buy bright pink carpeting and yellow seats because sooner or later, you are going to sell the aircraft and your extraordinary taste may make your potential buyers scared to death.
Here, the solution is to collaborate with a good interior designer. Currently, there are a great number of variants for the aircraft interior, for example, ready side panels, slipcovers, and headliners as well as uniquely designed solutions. You should keep in mind that quality and price are tracked closely.
When it comes to ready design solutions, the quality of the above-mentioned items and materials should be checked by your engineering team. The unique design means that no two similar aircraft exist in the world. This solution is always a more expensive process executed by a reputable studio specializing exclusively in interior upgrades.
You should avoid going cheap when implementing interior design solutions; whether you perform that on your own or partner with a studio makes no difference. Cheap service often means that the outcome looks so ugly that the owners won’t be able to sell the aircraft.
Selecting a studio
As soon as you have selected a studio, get ready to spend some time checking carpeting and fabrics to exactly identify what scope of work you wish to have performed. One thing you should know is that as long as all of the interior materials must correspond to flame-resistance benchmarks, pricing may get truly huge that you will be shocked! Anyway, a nice studio should be ready to partner with you regarding material choice, involving the installation to guarantee a perfect fit for your aircraft.
The final price for a unique aircraft interior for a small-size plane with 2 engines is currently in the 70,000 US dollars to 300,000 US dollars range. The design involves side panels, a headliner, carpets, and seat reupholstering.
Organize planning work
Now, it is time to plan the work. The majority of aircraft owners plan it to occur due to the aircraft’s yearly audit. The best studios cooperate with the maintenance departments within the airport so that yearly inspections and interior activity can be performed simultaneously. The studio has to order the necessary materials; during this period, the aircraft shouldn’t operate. As a rule, half a month is enough to receive fabric and carpeting; however, if we talk about unique design, the process can take even half a year to get delivered.
As soon as everything is received, the studio starts implementing the owner’s design idea to life. The process can take 2-3 months for finalizing the interior upgrade of a small-sized aircraft.
Conducting the interior upgrade itself
When considering older aircraft, engineers can often reveal locations that require to be repaired before the interior has been removed. Commonly, corrosion happens where the sound insulation gets wet in front of the aluminum. Engineers can see broken rails and passenger seat frames. If those discoveries take place, a good studio momentarily gets in touch with the aircraft owner to negotiate the solutions and budget for required repairs.
Note that aircraft passenger seats must correspond to international standards regarding crash loads withstanding, so, the repair of the damaged seat may not be an option. Only several studios possess certified specialists that weld seat components. In other cases, replacement is the only solution.
Installing the components
Inserting the novel interior is conducted from top to bottom, beginning with the headliner because the last is acknowledged as the most difficult component for installation. If it is installed incorrectly, the headliner will look terrible or even fall down when there is another temperature compared to the atmosphere in the installation. If aircraft owners and their engineering teams don’t regularly conduct interior renovation, they can face huge problems when installing headliners. The solution can even look like purchasing an extra pair of headliners to exercise to receive relevant results.