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Jet Aviation up for a sizeable challenge

Posted 7 February 2011 · Add Comment

Business aviation throws up a number of challenges to completions centres. Liz Moscrop and Marcelle Nethersole report.

Aircraft completions aren’t complex when left to the experts – but even they can receive some big and challenging requests from customers.

Jet Aviation is about to take on one of those big challenges at its Basel centre, where it will be the first to take on a wide-body Boeing B747-8 outfitting job for a Middle Eastern customer.

Chief executive Peter Edwards said: “This is likely to be the largest and most complex completions contract ever undertaken because of its sheer size and the fact it is an all-new aeroplane. We have to certify it to current standards using a new generation of IFE and communications equipment.”

Although the aircraft will be finished in 2014, Jet Aviation will use technology that is tried and tested today. Edwards explained: “We look for proven technologies in applications. We do not want to come in too early in the cycle. Reliability demand is high and we want to put the right level of maturity into our systems. We use open architecture, which offers great communications possibilities.”

He added that passengers wish to integrate their personal devices with on-board systems. Blu-ray and surround speakers are popular.

The aircraft is due to arrive in 2012 and will spend around two years in the hangar. The cabin will be a classic design.

VVIP travel has taken a new turn recently with customers thinking bigger is better. One company that knows this more than most is Gore Design Completions, which supplies custom aircraft interiors to head-of-state and VVIP aircraft, including the latest generation wide-bodies.

“We perform interior design, engineering, avionics and project management service for customers worldwide,” said Jeff Potter, director of sales.

The company, based in San Antonio, Texas, currently has three wide-body and two narrow-body aircraft in its hangar undergoing completion. It specialises in Boeing and Airbus airframes only, ranging from the narrow-body interior of the Boeing Business Jet and the Airbus Corporate Jet to the wide-body Airbus A330/A340 and Boeing 767/787.

In October it received a Boeing 777-200LR for completion to its newly-expanded hangar.  The aircraft, for a Central Asian head-of-state, is the first of its kind to be modified at the company. 

“We previously completed two other aircraft for this customer dating back to 2004,” said Potter. “The customer’s second aircraft, a Boeing 737, was completed late last year. Knowing the customer’s preferences helps us build an interior that they will love but, at the same time, it is important for us to keep the design fresh and interesting.”

The new interior will include a presidential suite and conference room. “The specification calls for a luxurious VIP suite to include a stateroom, dressing room and office,” explained Potter.

Canadian completions company Flying Colours topped all previous requests with the suggestion of a stone floor for a Global 5000 business jet.

However, instead of showing the designer to the door, the Ontario-based company set about sourcing the materials and delivering the goods without a huge weight penalty.

“The green aircraft was flown from the Bombardier Global Completion Centre in Montreal to Flying Colours for the modification and then to Asia for delivery to a very satisfied customer,” said Flying Colours’ Eric Gillespie.

The granite floor was manufactured by Germany’s List Components & Furniture and was installed in the entry/galley area, forward lavatory and aft lavatory area of the Global 5000.

“This new and cutting-edge process saw the granite sliced into 2.5mm pieces and attached to a lightweight backplate, which gave it high elasticity without losing the necessary floor-loading requirements,” said Gillespie. “The floor is custom-engineered to fit a specific area and sealed to prevent liquids from penetrating the stone.”

Completion companies have seen an escalation in the demand and expect the market to have major growth potential.

According to Peter Edwards of Jet Aviation the Middle East is a key region.

“We’re celebrating five years in Dubai,” said Edwards. “It’s a very important region, which is exactly why we are in Dubai. But it’s also an exciting region, too, as we are offered various challenging projects from customers here.”

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