Cabin Modifications

Aircraft owners wanting to update or upgrade cabins and cabin systems, whether to increase resale value or because they are out of date, worn, or not to their tastes, have a full range of options in the service industry.

From reconditioning seat coverings to fully replacing seats, refinishing cabinetry to stripping and re-covering it, adding Wi-Fi or modernizing entertainment systems, factory-owned facilities can be a single stop for upgrades. Modifications come in a variety of costs and, depending on extent of work, take varying amounts of time. These facilities draw on the best aviation products available, from Wi-Fi systems to Blu-ray players and cabin controls. Many upgrades can be done while aircraft are in for scheduled maintenance.

Reasons why

Owners, of course, upgrade cabins for many reasons. Preserving and increasing resale value is the primary motivation. Just as when selling a home, first impressions drive many sales. An aircraft might have the latest avionics, but the condition and age of the seats and cabinetry — or whether passenger can easily use a laptop or iPod — can seal the deal.

Many owners or companies wish to personalize cabins, to reflect their own tastes or the company image. Factory-owned facilities can rely on experienced aircraft designers for modifications, and team members can work directly with refurbishment customers to create a personalized interior.

More than any other communication tool, business executives desire ready access to the Internet and the up-to-date contact it provides. Aircell systems provide several options for cabin Wi-Fi. In addition, high-definition televisions and other options are among modernization features, keeping owners just as connected in the air as on the ground.

A growing number of owners seek to get the most out of their aircraft by turning unused flight time into revenue. Aircraft can be used for medical and other missions, and companies such as Cessna can support and make multiple uses a reality. For instance, convertible aircraft interiors can accommodate stretchers or other equipment.

Seat and upholstery upgrades

Seats and other upholstery can be returned to like-new appearance using a number of approaches. One quick and simple method is re-dying the seat leather, which is a lower-cost option but limited by the original hue.

A midlevel option is re-covering the seats using existing cushions. The method has unlimited color options but cannot incorporate upgraded tailoring. Replacing the coverings and cushions is a more extensive alternative with countless color options, access to upgraded tailoring, and the certainty of extended life, as all parts are replaced. The most dramatic update is full replacement of the seats, with numerous options specific to each aircraft type.

Cabinetry refurbishment

Just as with seats and other soft goods, cabinetry can be refurbished through a number of approaches.

The most basic approach is reconditioning. Cabinets are buffed to remove scratches and then polished to look like new. With refinishing, the existing finish is stripped and new high-gloss or stain finish is applied.

Most extensive is surface replacement, where the existing veneer or laminate is removed and a new selection is installed. This is more time-intensive but allows for customization to personal taste.

Wi-Fi and other electronics

Staying Internet-connected is vital, and companies can provide the tools to keep in touch via high speed.

For example, operating via 3G mobile technology and a network of ground stations, allow full web surfing, email, and the use of any Wi-Fi enabled device. A variety of monthly service plans are offered, from unlimited use to set monthly fees with usage limits and per-MB fees when the limit is surpassed.

Entertainment options can be improved as well. Many companies offer interfaces for iPods, MP3 players, USB inputs, Blu-ray players, and high-def personal and bulkhead viewing screens. Many owners take advantage of time allotted to other interior refurbishments and maintenance to perform electronics upgrades.

In conclusion, many aircraft cabin options are available and new technology has opened up the possibilities. AMT


Stan Younger is vice president, Service Facilities, Cessna Aircraft Company. For more information visit