Tips For Refurbishment
A keen understanding of the market and your choices can help keep you on schedule
By Greg Napert
If you work for a corporate operator, chances are pretty good that at one time or another, you will be involved in a refurbishment project for your corporate aircraft.
Some maintenance departments prefer to take a hands-off approach to the refurb; however, knowing how and when to get involved in the project and knowing what is available in the marketplace can make you a hero. Everything from preparing records in advance, to helping expedite decisions regarding the configuration of the interior can speed the refurb project and reduce downtime. Further, your decisions can help impact the repairability of the aircraft when it's completed — something that will affect you for years to come.
State of the refurb industry
Several important changes in the refurbishment and completions marketplace have dramatically affected the approach to getting your company's aircraft refurbished or completed.
A great deal of consolidation in the industry, as well as the purchase of several completion centers by aircraft manufacturers, and a significant backlog due to a prosperous economy means that a bit more shopping may be necessary before you can find what you want in terms of interior selection and scheduling.
But options, to include pre-configured, pre-approved interiors (see Page 79), as well as new facilities that cater to custom interiors are still available. One of the most recent entries into the custom refurb market is McKinney Aerospace in McKinney, TX.
Dean Murray, VP Sales and Marketing for McKinney Aerospace says, "The rise in fractional share ownership programs and large corporate jets such as the Gulfstream V, Global Express, and Boeing Business Jet have created a bigger market for the larger jets. This eliminates choices for the corporate jet operator who is looking for the requisite amount of experience on his refurbishment project."
He continues, "It seems that the refurb market is becoming the customized product provider. The OEMs, for the most part, have really gone with a business model where they want to only offer two or three floor plans, but the refurb business offers an infinite number of configurations. This is a business where we cater to the high-end customer that wants that customization."
Facilitate a team approach
As director or chief of maintenance, one of the biggest impacts that you can have on your refurbishment project is to bring together all the individuals that will be involved in the project (owner, CEO, chief pilot, chief of maintenance, etc.) at the beginning of the project so you don't have someone changing things at the end of the project. Questions you need to ask include what your thought process is on your passenger load and your typical trip.
Murray says, "It sounds ridiculous, but there are some operations that don't even bring in the principal of the company until the completion of the project is a couple of weeks away. Then, they're surprised that the principal wants changes to the interior.
"So our first recommendation is to pull together all parties and ask the practical questions. Bring these individuals together in a conference with the facility that is going to do the refurb to make sure you're all reading from the same page. This is also a good time to pull together a wish list of things that you want to put on the aircraft for all parties involved."
Murray explains that this is an ideal time for maintenance to have input because they are the people who will be maintaining the equipment. "Any time that you can have an equal playing field where people can speak candidly, you can eliminate many of the problems that you will have up front. Unfortunately, there may be personalities that are strong that drive things one way or the other, but you have your best chance of making everyone happy at the end of the project if you try to sit everyone down for an initial meeting," he says.
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