appearance vs certification - playing with fire
The contrast between high-quality standards and simultaneously low prices leads to a conflict of objectives and ultimately quite critical actions in aviation. Who thought this was the past, is mistaken because this seems to be common practice. Just like all objects of daily use, aircrafts are subject to normal wear and tear.
Minor damages to wood veneer furniture, to leather seats, to Ultraleather / Alcatara upholstery, etc. are therefore absolutely normal. It is natural that you want to give your business jet an optimum look. After all, people are supposed to feel comfortable on board, and the interior is also a business card to the outside world.
Technically speaking, any top painter and saddler will be able to satisfy their customers. And even in terms of price, the very interesting offer of the non-aviation craftsman will also be highly appreciated. Ideally, he is fast, reliable and provides high quality at amazing prices. If we were talking about a non-flying object now, everything would be right.
However, it is about a flying object, associated with great risks, the possibility of flight accidents and highest demands not only on visual appearance. In aviation, the flight safety always comes first, not the appearance. If you find yourself in a critical situation, you come to understand what is really important. Safety on board. After all, people’s lives are at stake. News about incidents, diversions and emergency landings caused by smoke or fire in the aircraft/cockpit are now reported almost every day. The most recent example is the Smartphone Galaxy Note 7. Because of the risk of fire. According to the US media, another such device has caught fire. Because of the accident, it was necessary to evacuate an aircraft on the route from Louisville to Baltimore before departure.
The question arises whether the high visual demands on the interior reconcile with flight safety? Can someone who releases the aircraft for air traffic ensure that all works have been performed in a due manner?
Is it possible to exclude the risks in the interior with reference to danger of fire?
The good news is Yes. The less good news is it will a little bit more expensive. But what are additional costs compared to the devastating effects, which could happen in case of a flight accident, and your life and the lives of others? And who is responsible for the costs if the aircraft has been grounded by the authorities? There are already some cases known where aircrafts were chained to the ground as a result of non-certified interior works. The authorities have become vigilant and are meanwhile training their inspectors correspondingly, sharpening their eye and providing detailed knowledge.
If you want to sell your aircraft and have no appropriate documentation for refurbishment activities, the recertification process will be expensive and can even result in a reduction of the aircraft value. And no one will any longer believe that nothing was done on a several-year old aircraft and that it looks as if it was delivered by the manufacturer two days ago. So fire tests are probably the minimum everyone is asking for in the meantime.
Interior refurbishment works on furniture, on seats, on carpets and wall and ceiling covering must be tested and certified. Especially the fire behaviour of individual materials and compositions must be proved with OEM material and / or the surrogate process. It is not enough to provide the burn test certificate from the manufacturer. Fire tests are unavoidable, who does not burn beforehand, plays with fire.
In addition, the refurbishment processes must be described and all materials approved.
This requires certified aviation organisations with a high degree of expertise. The design organisation Part 21J, the production organisation 145 and a qualified fire-testing laboratory.
With this constellation and the requirements and information from the OEM and the authorities, all wishes and requirements can be made ready for flight in a legal and safe way. Be it major refurbishment of the entire cabin, a partial refurbishment of the seats or a sport refurbishment to hide damage resulting from usage.
Output is a fast, reliable work in high quality with minor change and engineering order with fire tests documented in writing.
The cost difference to the non-aviation action is about 3,000 Euros in case of a spot refurbishment. Extremely low compared to safety and risks.
My appeal to the industry: Act legally and fairly, in terms of aviation and security.
Hermann Bauer Owner,
Managing Director Maritime Aerospace AG