Duncan Aviation recently refurbished a 12-year-old Gulfstream G550, giving it a whole new interior, a new exterior paint scheme, and an upgraded CMS (Cabin Management System). During this refurbishment, we also performed scheduled maintenance to minimize the impact of the downtime for the client’s flight schedule.
"Because of the reliability of Gulfstream aircraft, they continue to be dependable business tools, regardless of age," says Completions/Modification Sales Manager Nate Klenke. "This serial number was a top performer in our clients’ fleet, so they decided to give it a facelift and keep it flying."
Duncan Aviation Lead Designer Rachael Weverka redesigned the interior, proposing an updated color scheme, all new soft goods (fabrics, seat upholstery, headliner fabrics) in the cabin, and a unique combination of natural veneers and colored accents.
The galley design features multi-colored finished surfaces coupled with high-gloss veneer finishes. The upper galley cabinets, for instance, were treated with a light cream color to coordinate with the headliner fabric.
Based on Rachael’s designs, the production teams created sleek new drink rails and redesigned the PSUs (Passenger Service Units), adding veneer and plating to modernize the panels. Rachael grouped lights and gaspers into pods for each chair and added plated accents to the handrails.
The refurbishment also included remaking the front door in the galley from a sliding door to a drop-down door. The door is now a single piece, and it pivots with hinges on each corner so it can be angled and rotated into a functional workspace!
During the project’s planning, the clients requested the new design be consistent with the rest of their fleet. With a very conservative budget, Rachael was able to incorporate stylized design elements using the existing panels and structure to develop a cabin environment that was spot-on with the clients’ request.
The seats pop with new French stitching (a double topstitch on top of the leather), and the extra detailing on the armrests and lower sidewalls was inspired by the stitching on the seats.
"We worked to modernize the materials, taking it from what was a bit standard and going a few steps beyond," says Rachael. "The seats now have an ergonomic design, providing passengers with greater lumbar support, making the seats comfortable as well as attractive."
Using two-toned leather for the drink rails made them more durable than if they’d been covered in fabric or veneer.
"We hand-tipped the leather to maintain a soft textural feeling," says Rachael. "It helps give the lower sidewalls a bit of visual interest as opposed to a solid color."
In addition to the newly painted exterior and company logos to match the fleet, the aircraft was the recipient of the first Honeywell Ovation CMS to be installed on a Gulfstream G550.
Whether passengers are looking for entertainment or a few quiet hours of productivity, the all-digital Honeywell Ovation CMS interfaces with a variety of carry-on devices (Smartphones, iPads, laptop computers) and gives passengers a range of controls for maximum comfort.
Typically, the cabin monitors in a Gulfstream are inset in the windows. Instead, Rachael’s design included one flush-mounted, 22-inch monitor on the right-hand forward partition and one 19-inch monitor mounted aft on the sidewall over the credenza.
The materials and designs used throughout the galley and cabin were carried into the lav, including the colored accents on the cabinets.
After nearly two years of planning and preparation, our client brought the G550 to Lincoln in June 2016, and we delivered the completed aircraft on budget in September 2016. A client representative was on-site while the aircraft was here, and as part of the team, the representative attended the daily team meetings, was involved in day-to-day decisions, and had access to every Duncan Aviation team member who touched the aircraft.
"We like to partner with our clients on these complex projects and be transparent throughout the entire process," says Nate, "This is an example of how Duncan Aviation supports operators through the entire life of the aircraft. Rene Cardona, one of Duncan Aviation’s Aircraft Sales Representatives, helped the customer buy the aircraft 12 years ago and now we have helped extend its usefulness in a very active fight department."
In the 6 years that Lead Designer Rachael Weverka has been designing aircraft interiors at Duncan Aviation, she’s noticed a shift. In 2010, her customers were concerned about the resale value of their aircraft, and that translated into fairly conservative designs.
Although they were elegant and professional, the interiors featured muted colors, and there were few personal touches. In the relatively small business aviation market, an interior with the vibrant colors of an owner’s favorite sports team, for instance, wouldn’t have had wide appeal. Only rarely did companies put their logos on the aircraft, inside or out.
"Now, owners want their interiors to reflect their personalities," says Rachael. "The custom designs involve colors, fabrics, and textures we haven’t often used in aircraft interiors. It’s been fun to be part of this shift."
Recently, Rachael has designed seats that match the colors, fabrics, and styling of a customer’s sports car, and she’s currently incorporating gold-toned snakeskin fabric in another interior.