Sky High Private Jet Interiors Like You’ve Never Seen
Originally published in the September 2015 Robb Report Private Aviation Sourcebook as "Interior Motives."
Just as jet manufacturers continually seek to produce aircraft with more powerful engines and longer range, the companies that design custom interiors compete to create the most efficient, attractive, and comfortable cabins. Their designers, engineers, and customer-service specialists will work with you to meet your requirements for a living space that allows you to conduct business while in flight or just sit back and relax.
These shops can take a green jet (one with a bare interior) straight from the factory assembly line or an older jet ready for refurbishment and create a design that incorporates the lightest possible materials and makes the most use of the cabin’s limited space. The shops also must comply with strict international aviation standards to ensure that all of their constructions and materials are safe and functional, even when the jet is traveling at speeds faster than 550 mph and altitudes as high as 40,000 feet.
Weight saving is essential. Every ounce shaved off the interior allows for additional fuel capacity, which will extend the aircraft’s range. Saving weight also makes the aircraft more fuel efficient, which reduces the operating costs. According to an estimate that Colin Sirett, the head of research and technology for Airbus in the United Kingdom, gave to BBC News last year, an extra kilogram can translate to roughly $1 million in operating costs over the lifespan of an aircraft. Though he was referring to airliners, the custom shops nevertheless understand that every pound counts with a business jet. “We found that we could get better soundproofing with less weight by layering and staggering the materials,” says Daron Dryer, the vice president of engineering at Comlux America, an Indianapolis-based company that performs VIP interior completions and refurbishments on large aircraft built by Boeing, Airbus, and other manufacturers. (The company is part of Comlux the Aviation Group, an international charter-service provider headquartered in Zurich.)
The custom shops also have to keep up with the latest technology and be able to incorporate it into their designs. In this way, they will meet the expectations of jet owners—and charter customers, who can offset some of the costs of ownership. “When you’re driving up to your aircraft in your modern automobile, you don’t want to take a step back in time when you get on your airplane,” says Dryer. “We have to take all that integration, all that easy user interface that our customers would expect in a high-end automobile, and surpass it.”
He says that new materials and new products also are creating more possibilities for multifunctional interiors. “The aircraft-grade galley components, like coffee makers, espresso machines, and even cooktops, are becoming lighter and more aesthetically pleasing,” Dryer says. “Before we had to hide them behind partitions and walls; now we can integrate them into the cabin, so you can use the same space for dining and working and socializing. These new components help to create an open and modern look, with a few large spaces instead of a lot of smaller rooms.”
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