Some Things to consider
A few suggestions that as a mechanic or repair station that are into remods should consider are:
1. Keep copies of all flash/flame/burn tests and certifications with the bulk fabric/materials you have in stock and a copy in a secure place, just in case you are asked by your friendly FAA inspector.
2. Keep samples of fabric and material and their invoice numbers used in the aircraft's interior modifications so replacement is a snap vs. a chore.
3. Be careful of dry cleaning chemicals/soaps/detergents that are used to clean interiors. They can degrade the fire protection of the fabric. Remember on CAR-3, Part 23, and Part 25 aircraft the flash/flame and burn requirements are part of the aircraft's type design. If a mechanic suspects that the interior no longer meets the rule, then samples of the interior fabric should be tested.
4. If your company recently bought a Part 23/25 aircraft or if your company is considering a purchase of a used aircraft, then a burn test of the interior materials is strongly recommended.
How are interiors approved? If you want to completely redo your aircraft's interior, add a wet bar, entertainment center, phones, etc., we are talking a major alteration here. Any major alteration requires approved data. The three ways where you can get approved data are: have a designated engineering representative draw up and approve the data, the STC route, and FAA field approval. A word here about field approvals. FAA inspectors are not in the business to compete with DER or holders of STC. We will do field approvals for the addition of equipment like a TV or a sound system, but full remod of interiors are big projects and literally will take up too much of our time, so a DER or an STC should be your first choice.
FAA repair stations also have an option of taking DER-approved data and making it into a process specification approved under the repair station's operating limitations. For example, Poteen's aviation interiors, a FAA Part 145 repair station has an order from a Learjet operator to remod six of their jets. Since the interiors are all the same, the DER information can be made part of the repair stations' process specifications. The process specifications can be enlarged to cover recordkeeping, Instructions for Continued Airworthiness, and replacement of parts.
Aircraft interior installation and maintenance is perhaps one of the most overlooked components found on an aircraft. The NTSB accident data tells us that many people survive the initial accident, yet many die, because of smoke and fire-related injuries caused by the fires that fed on the aircraft's interior or failure of interior components. I have personally been at accidents where individual(s) have been fatally injured because of something simple like a handheld fire extinguisher was improperly secured and became a lethal missile propelled by the force of impact or a seat belt failed because its corroded attachment bolt was hard to inspect because it was hidden by the interior panel.
In Part 2 of my tome on field approvals, we will cover current field approval policy found in Change 16 to FAA Order 8300.10.
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