Crew Aviation takes us behind the curtain on how luxury aircrafts are designed
By Shannon Weidekamp
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
Imagine ascending the steps to your own private aircraft sanctuary. You enter, surrounded by a palette of colors and illumination of ambient light that highlights the expert artisanship of the entry. The wood veneer of fine burl or perhaps birdseye maple of the finest grade wraps around the interior walls and cabinetry. The meticulous fit and finish of drawers and doors allow them to blend seamlessly into the design architecture of the aircraft.
As you move into the cabin, you notice the luster of the carpet beneath you flecked with silk strands. You take your seat. A seat that you chose for the comfort and functionality you desire. The luxurious feel of hand-crafted leather cradles you in comfort as you prepare for your journey, in your aircraft, precisely as you want it to be.
Private aircraft ownership is no longer just for Kings and Queens, celebrities and politicians. Corporate aviation and ownership are rising to build and create businesses and keep the economy moving in locations that major airports may not serve. With enhanced internet and connectivity capabilities, corporate aircraft become flying boardrooms where work continues and unhampered productivity by cramped seats and unreliable Wi-Fi. Private aircraft ownership is also increasing as successful entrepreneurs, and professionals look for ways to spend time with family and friends without the delays and hassles as well as safety and security risks they can face from commercial travel. Accessibility to technology and the advancements of materials have made aircraft ownership not only possible but a reality in today’s world.
Buying an aircraft—Where do I start?
This question is answered by asking the right questions and beginning a conversation. Max Weidekamp, business development director at Crew Aviation, guides customers by listening to their needs, desires in travel, overall budget, capital cost and considers factors like length of ownership and tax structures. Whether new or pre-owned, your aircraft will need an interior completion or possible refurbishment of the interior to make it your own. New aircraft leave the manufacturing floor as “green” aircraft. The term refers to the fact that most aircraft are delivered from the manufacturer with a coat of oxidized paint, usually green, to prevent corrosion before it is painted with the customer’s color preference. The manufacturer completes the interior of a new aircraft or goes to a completion center specializing in aircraft interior design and installation. A completion center employs individuals who are highly skilled artisans, craftsmen, maintenance technicians, engineers, designers and other experts in their field.
What are the primary elements in designing an aircraft interior?
Aircraft interior design is a specialized skill that begins with engineering, conformity and the rules and regulations of the governing organization of the particular country. In the U.S., the aircraft must meet FAA standards. All materials must pass burn certification tests. Seats must be certified for take-off and landing. Any item that is fixed and attached to the aircraft is inspected and documented in the engineering plans that remain throughout its life cycle.
The visual appeal of the interior is up to individual owners. However, skilled aircraft designers will present materials in colors that enhance the cabin, provide:
•Lighting to work with circadian rhythms
•The varied natural lighting that is constantly changing
They must understand the needs and use of the aircraft and provide a selection of materials that can stand up to extreme conditions, the constant changes in temperature, humidity and the flex of materials while traveling through altitude, pressurization and load factor changes.
Weight and balance—Why does it matter?
The overall weight of an aircraft dramatically affects the performance and the cost of flying the plane. When compiling a performance review for a client, Crew Aviation evaluates the potential use of the plane. How many people will be flying, what are frequent destinations and are the runways at those destinations rated for the aircraft? When clients seek new interior components, it is not just the cabin comfort elements that must be considered. As an innovative company, Crew Aviation looks for solutions to maximize the cabin’s luxury, comfort, and use while utilizing state-of-the-art technologies that are lightweight, aesthetically pleasing, and efficient.
What is Behind the Design?
Your private aircraft sanctuary may be luxurious and beautiful to the eye, but you also want the comforts of a quiet journey, entertainment, a five-star meal, a place to relax and breathe. On a business aircraft, you need the ability to connect to high-speed internet, a place to meet with company executives or clients, a need for privacy, and access to the same business tools you have in your office.
The Crew Aviation Acquisition team wants to ensure your aircraft purchase exceeds your expectations. Working with other professional aviation companies, we can provide upgrades to your aircraft to enhance cabin air systems, update galley equipment, systems upgrades for Wi-Fi and avionics. We can replace outdated cabin entertainment systems, install efficient pocket doors for privacy, quiet shut doors and drawers and all of the details you don’t see but are paramount to the optimum level of comfort and design.
The cost of cutting costs.
Purchasing an aircraft is different from buying a car or a piece of real estate. Researching an aircraft purchase is a wonderful way to understand what you like and understand the options in size and range. However, it would be best if you had competent, experienced aviation professionals who understand the actual costs of performance, maintenance, interior refurbishment and design to ensure that your aircraft exceeds your expectations and not your bank account. Purchasing an aircraft with an affordable capital cost may end up costing hundreds of thousands in the future to meet your needs. The art of acquisitions in aircraft purchase is not just making a good deal on a purchase price but ensuring that our clients have the best in comfort, safety and a financially sound investment.
Crew Aviation, LLC
1176 Standiford Ave.
Louisville, KY 40213