Depending on the age, total time, and the quality of maintenance a pre-owned aircraft has received, you may or may not need to replace its interior upon purchasing. René recently made the trip to West Star Aviation on behalf of one of our clients to assist in selecting an interior design for a soon-to-be purchased Citation X.
If your knowledge of the Citation X is limited, you should know that it’s a seven- or eight-passenger super-midsize jet. It doesn’t have a small cabin, by any means, but there are some much larger private jets out there, as well as some significantly smaller ones. The price and required downtime of an aircraft’s interior refurbishment or complete redesign can vary pretty widely depending on the size of the aircraft, and the extent of desired changes.
This Citation X has a typical layout with double club seating and no divan, so the process was pretty straight forward. It always helps for the aircraft owner, or the owner’s representative, to have an idea of what they’re looking for in an interior. Typically, it’s a safer bet to go with a low-key, timeless look, especially if you plan on chartering the aircraft at any time. A gaudy interior with vibrant colors—or a very drab interior—can hurt the resale value of an aircraft, as well.
In this case, neither René nor the team at West Star Aviation knew the buyer’s taste in décor—neither his nor hers, which can be different! What they did know, however, is that the plane would be chartered out, and that the buyers preferred warm tones over cool tones; colors like beige and brown over grey or blue. Chartering an aircraft means that the interior will see more and wear and tear, so René wanted to go with an elegant interior, using colors and materials that don’t show a whole lot of dirt.
The wood paneling on this aircraft was still in great condition, which limited the buyer’s options as far as color schemes that work with its current wood, but saved a whole lot of money. Replacing wood can take an exceptionally long time and can double or triple the refurbishment costs. The bottom line: take care of the wood, so you don’t have to replace it.
The four main components of a soft goods refurbishment, which is what is being done here, are the seats, the carpet, the headliner, and the sidewall material. The goal with the carpet was to choose something that wouldn’t show wear or the inevitable dirt tracked in during winters in the north. They wanted the accenting leathers and sidewalls to be a little bit more interesting, since the rest of the aircraft would feature more low-key designs.
For the carpet, the buyer ended up choosing a loop-pile design, including a couple different brownish-tan tones. The leather they chose for the seats was a darker shade of beige/tan that coordinates well with the lighter shades of the wood grain. They went with a similar colored vinyl leather for the accents that had an interesting texture, just loud enough to keep things interesting without being overwhelming. For the sidewalls, they chose a pattern that was fun, but incorporated the colors of the wood, leather, and carpet. West Star’s Veta Traxler made sure that the pattern was on a pretty small scale, so as not to be overbearing. Large patterns can make the cabin feel a bit smaller than it is, whereas a smaller, tighter design has the opposite effect, especially with the dropped (not flat) cabin floor.
On an aircraft of this size, a soft goods replacement typically takes a month and a half to two months, and will last for 7 to 10 years, depending on how many hours the plane is flown and how well the interior is maintained. The carpet usually sees the most wear and tear, and is the first component to need replacing. Larger aircraft, like Challengers and Gulfstreams, can take three months or more to complete. Modifying an interior, changing floorplans, etc. can take even longer, because at that point the FAA has to approve said modifications. In the case of this Citation X, the owner was simply recovering existing fixtures, so the FAA was not involved.
To see a walk-through of René’s experience at West Star, click here to watch her Facebook Live video broadcast of the conversations she had with George Euler and Veta Traxler regarding the Citation X’s interior refurbishment.