The major advantage of the kits are the significant reduction in downtime for the operator in the case of refurbishment and higher production rates for manufacturers and completion centers — a very attractive concept that helps the manufacturers reduce backlog and sell more aircraft.
One of the disadvantages, of course, is that the operator is somewhat limited in their configuration of the interior. Changes to the layout of the interior are not allowed as this would require re-approval of the interior, which defeats the purpose of the kit.
However, the kit concept does allow the flexibility to select a wide variety of fabrics, materials and finishes of the customer's choosing, so long as the configuration of the interior remains the same.
Interior suppliers put it all together
According to Simon Kay, director of re-completion for B/E Aerospace, the company has been in the business of providing interior products such as seating, lighting, and furnishings for aircraft interiors for the last 12 years. In the Fall of 1998, B/E decided that, since it was offering all of the products needed to complete Canadair Challenger Series interiors (galleys, seating, cabinets, lighting, etc.), it could assemble all of these products and provide a complete STC'd package to refurbishment centers. In March of 1999, B/E launched the program and announced it at the 1999 NBAA convention later that year. The company is now ready to offer interior kits to completion centers.
The actual physical assembly of the interior is done in Miami at B/E's AMP facility, and that's where they also build the cabinets and seats. The kit doesn't include the cockpit or the liner panels in the baggage compartment.
B/E allows for varying tolerances from airframe to airframe by incorporating special adjustable fasteners and isolators. The only other area of concern for fit is in the windows. The window shade system B/E uses has an adjustable back so you can align the back on the physical window of the airplane. You would almost never see a tolerance difference greater than 1/4-inch, and there is adjustment capability well in excess of this for adjustment.
The only items in the interior that are not manufactured by B/E are the electronic cabin management system and entertainment system which are provided by IEC International in England (formerly Hunting Avionics).
Kay says, "The electrical system is actually very advanced. It is a computer-based digital databus system. The cabin management and entertainment system all run off this digital databus, which is an RS485 bus. All of the components are looped to this bus, and all we need to do is basically run power and ground to the bus. It's all controlled by programmable touch-screen panels (LCD and Monitor style). The simplicity of the electrical system means that we have one fourth or a fifth of a conventional completion set of wiring in there. It's more reliable and saves weight."
Kay explains that the kit comes as a completely pre-built package with attach bracketry, wiring harnesses, plumbing, oxygen system, and everything that's necessary to interface the interior package into the airplane. It is then removed from the jig component by component, crated, and shipped.
"We not only assemble the entire kit, our fixture is designed to be used as a fitting tool and is wired for power and basically, the entire electrical system for the aircraft will be pre-tested and pre-run in the fixture. All the harnesses will be checked, all the components will be checked, and everything will be working. Prior to delivery, the customer and/or the completion installer will be encouraged to come and inspect the interior in the jig to be sure that it meets their expectations. You will actually get to sit in it and turn on the equipment and use the galley equipment to be sure you are satisfied with it."
In the case of the Challenger, B/E has developed four floor plans and three different levels of equipment and trim — so there's a matrix of 12 choices. However, the beauty is that all of these choices are encompassed within one STC. So, the refurb center doesn't have to have any of these choices re-approved or re-certified.