Recently I photographed a “facelift” of a private jet that I designed for one of my clients. Some of you have followed my posts about other jets I have designed which were “green” jets meaning they were brand new without any insides and are flown into the design center covered in green paint- (hence the name). Think of it like building a house from the ground up.
Facelifts are different in that the aircraft is already in service and is most likely tired looking and in need of all the things a room in a house would. Upholstery, wall treatment, new carpeting, new seating, new lighting, etc. But in aviation we call this a refurbishment. Like my residential projects, I specify and manage the project in its entirety including shopping for the china, crystal, silver, towels, cashmere throws and bedding. Oh yes, you can sleep on this jet- the seats berth to form beds for the passengers to sleep comfortably.
So let’s get to it.
Here’s a before—The upholstery was holding up well but not very current. The carpet was a bit worn and the seats rolled backs. Also if you look at the sidewalls there are horizontal “lines” in the upholstered walls. All of it had to be replaced.
Here is what the jet looks like now-The color scheme is rich caramels and soft tans.
I chose new fabrics for the sidewalls, headliner and valance. We had the plating cleaned up as well. The carpeting is a new wool loop and cut pile by Scott Group. I designed new streamlined seats and selected a warm neutral leather. The lower sidewalls are done in tipped cowhide leather in chocolate. The divan (sofa) is upholstered in a bronze woven by Manuel Canovas. The flight deck and weather curtains are done in Villa Romo woven. The pillows are in a Romo cut velvet that I had made by my workroom in Charlotte.
The result is clean, tailored and inviting. My goal designing planes is the same for my residential work. I want my client to feel relaxed, happy and “at home” even before they are technically home.
The bathroom got freshened up as well. I upholstered the walls in a Grey Watkins tweed (the wall you can see in the mirror) and chose new plumbing fixtures to work with the existing stone. Redoing anything in a jet is incredibly pricey and part of my job is to see what existing finishes can be used and what absolutely has to be replaced.
When working on aircraft- keep in mind that everything has to pass FAA regulations–which means burn testing. A little insight into the aviation industry–we don’t like to talk about crashes or fires but we do need to be prepared in case of an emergency. I found that out very quickly many years ago when I used the word crash repeatedly in an avionics meeting and all heads at the conference table whipped around and stared at me as if I had just dropped the f word. I wanted to say, “what? what did I say?” But I later figured it out when one of the crew clued me in. Oops. Sorry. Hey, I fly on these too.
The tables are a magnificent caramel burl with solid wood edge banding. The tables originally had an embedded brass edge that I felt was dated and so the cabinet shop was able to remove that and replace with a beautiful piece of veneer inlay.
The bulkheads are gorgeously done in book matched burl veneer and it is impossible to convey the rich quality of this wood. The best way to describe it is velvet. Silk velvet ribbons floating in a caramel sea. Now I’m hungry.
The exterior repainted with silver and gray speed stripes–and that was a lot of fun to design too.
I flew in for regular meetings with Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, Michigan and they were a pleasure to work with.
For the aviation aficionados- the jet is a Challenger 604. It can fly 7458 km and it’s top speed is .82 mach. It will carry 9-19 passengers and 3 crew. And it has the widest body of any business jet.
Here are some behind the scenes pictures from the shoot:
This is the galley (kitchen)–with serpentine cabinetry. The design not only saves space, it’s pretty. Jets are kinda sexy and to have cabinetry with curves just enhances that whole deal.
My photographer, Chris Edwards who is not only a great talent but very easy and fun to work with.
Glamorous. My flower buckets and yogurt on the golf cart on the ramp.
Having a moment in the hanger. I can’t remember what I found so funny. The vehicle I am sitting in is called a pushback and it does just that. Pushes or pulls aircraft out of the hanger onto the ramp.
Friends, when I tell you it was hot as blazes out on the ramp that morning, you will have to believe me. The interior of a plane that sits out in the sun without being powered up is like descending into Dante’s Inferno. Hot. Like Africa hot. The metal heats up to over 100 degrees and you can fry an egg on the exterior.
Hence the step sit. Sort of like a front porch. Only not. Thanks for reading about my latest jet design.
If you would like to read more about my design of jets, please go here for other posts. There are 12 total so click on “older posts” to read all in their entirety.
Thanks for reading,
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