Interior Solutions and Innov Father- and son-owned companies support all King Air models
by MeLinda Schnyder
The owners of the original Model 90 King Air, serial number LJ-1, needed their crew and passenger seats rebuilt.
Beechcraft Corporation was just days away from delivering a new special missions King Air 350 to a customer in Ecuador when engineers realized a side-facing seat was too tall for the customized air ambulance configuration. A King Air 200 operator had a broken toilet and was told it would take 120-180 days to get a new one. In each case calls were made to Clinton, Mo., home to Aviation Fabricators (AvFab) and sister company Central Airmotive. In each case, they had the solution: As an FAA-approved certified repair station, AvFab rebuilt both crew and passenger seats for LJ-1. With an approved STC that allowed them to build the seat two inches shorter for the King Air going to Ecuador, AvFab technicians built it, got the necessary export documentation and sent the seat to Beechcraft for upholstering and installation in time for the delivery. Central Airmotive had an inventory of repaired toilets and was able to ship one within the week to the King Air 200 operator. G.R. Lowe and his son, Jeff, started Central Airmotive in 1978 first selling small parts and salvage. They noticed a need for interior parts support, and began to specialize in new and used OEM aircraft interior products such as seats, divans, tables, toilets, cabinets and dividers. In 1988 they founded Aviation Fabricators, which builds improved or unique interior items, as well as repairing components. In 1990, they sold all the airframe and salvage parts to be dedicated to interior parts and components. The companies have 24 employees and about 95,000-square-feet of space in Clinton.
Clinton, Missouri? The answer to why the companies are based in Clinton is pretty simple: the town of less than 10,000 people in west central Missouri is home. G.R.’s father was an 12 • KING AIR MAGAZINE
AvFab has more than 95,000 square feet of warehouse, repair and production space in Clinton, Mo., with 87,000 square feet of that space housing parts and components inventory.
instructor during World War II for the Civilian Pilot Training program and introduced G.R. to aviation at a very young age. Eventually, G.R. would trade washing airplanes or doing chores for airplane rides and lessons from a local crop duster. He later made aviation part of his career as he was in the oil business and additionally flying for the company, while running a flight school and a single-engine piston charter business when he and Jeff launched Central Airmotive. G.R. has accumulated more than 11,000 hours through the years and is a CFII with an ATP and type rated in the Douglas DC-3 and Lockheed L-18. Jeff’s first flight was in his father’s Cessna 170B. G.R. and Jeff Lowe in AvFab’s King Air 200 display fuselage. Visible are AvFab’s arm/ledge table system and its integrated headrest (extended). G.R. is sitting on an AvFab fourplace lounge divan with shoulder harness kits, and in the background is an AvFab two-place divan.
G.R. gave him his first flying lesson when Jeff was 15 and continued instructing him through his multiengine and instrument ratings. For the past 13 years, father and son have flown their King Air A90 about 150-200 hours each year.
AvFab started with a King Air While dispersing parts through Central Airmotive, the Lowes took notes on interior items that were no longer supported by the OEMs or were hard to find, along with items that continuously broke. “We had a very strong clientele with Central Airmotive, so we just listened to them,” G.R. said. “One thing Jeff and I learned early on was that there were a lot of shops repairing aircraft, but not many of them wanted to repair interior components, especially seats. There are a lot of subtleties involved with seats, so it was an area that not
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many had spent the time to become proficient in. We studied a lot, learned a lot, and went through a lot of trial and error. Eventually we began to put it together and learned the intricacies.” AvFab started by offering inspection, repair and overhaul of aircraft interior components in 1988. It was in 1992 when the company was awarded its first STC and Parts Manufacturer Approval from the FAA and began to design and produce custom aircraft seating, parts and components. The first STC AvFab received was for a three-seat divan for a King Air operator who needed the extra capacity. From there, the business grew and today about 30 percent of AvFab’s business is for Beechcraft King Air turboprops and 25 percent for Cessna Citation jets. The remainder is a mix among nearly every type of corporate piston, turboprop and jet aircraft.
Repair it or replace it? AvFab customers’ motivations fall into two categories: repairing a non-serviceable component or upgrading for improved utility or an updated look. When it comes to either, there’s often a choice between repairing and replacing. Repairing an interior component often saves money and can save time if a replacement is hard to find.
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AvFab technician working on a Hydrolok seat recline cylinder for King Air seats. AvFab said overhauling the cylinder can save 50-75 percent compared to replacing it.
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improvement in a few areas in order to greatly increase the stability, functionality, integrity and life of the table,” G.R. said. “We can repair them, add our structural repair kits, refinish them and the owner receives a table that can’t be differentiated from a new one.” The arm rest on new model 350 King Airs and Beechjets is a similar case – AvFab developed a repair process that includes stronger brackets to give the arm rests longer life.
AvFab offers these King Air aft jump seats for Beechcraft 90, 100, 200, 300, and B300 (350) series aircraft. The aft seats fold down from the sidewall of the aircraft in the aft baggage compartment giving additional seating.
Another benefit is that getting the proper fit can be easier when using the original component. G.R. said they once sold a lot of replacement tables to King Air operators. AvFab technicians noticed a pattern in the damaged areas of the tables and developed structural improvements so those areas could take more use. Now, they sell fewer replacements and repair more tables. “It is basically a good table that just needed
When AvFab notices a trend or hears an idea from a customer, the company studies its feasibility and marketability. If it’s a viable idea then employees start to work on getting FAA approval to produce an item or develop a repair process for it. “We ask ourselves if the item is something we can build or something we can improve upon. If it looks like it is, we start development and go from there,” G.R. said. AvFab has more than 100 STCs across all aircraft types, which G.R. said is a differentiator. “One of the ways we went about business differently than some others in the industry is by working via Supplemental Type Certificate instead of Technical Standard Order. By getting the FAA to approve an STC for our product, we are able to give our customers a component that is approved for installation in their specific aircraft. With a TSO, the customer is responsible for getting FAA approval for that component to be installed in their airplane,” G.R. said.
King Air Products AvFab supports all models of the King Air beginning with the original model 90 through those coming off the assembly line today, and their customers range from individual operators to commercial and government/military operations. According to AvFab, their most popular King Air products are: divans, aft jump seat kits, table/ arm ledge kits and high density seats. “Our two-place forward divan is approved for two occupants for takeoff and landing, whereas many are only approved for one occupant, for the 200 and 300 models,” G.R. said. AvFab recently received an STC for the installation of an aft fold up seat on the right side of the C90 in the baggage compartment. G.R. said this should be popular for operators with increased gross weight aircraft 16 • KING AIR MAGAZINE
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AvFab’s Latest STC for the King Air In late July, AvFab announced STC approval on their Aft Toilet Seat Kit for all King Air 200 series aircraft. The STC approval allows for the seat to be occupied during takeoff and landing, adding additional cabin space while retaining a functioning lavatory. The option for cabinet finishing and upholstery is available to match the existing look of the aircraft.
This arm/ledge table system is available for the C90, E90, F90 and 200 models. The table is designed to combine style with functionality and update the aircraft to the same look and feel as the new model King Airs.
who want the option of adding another passenger or folding the seat against the sidewall when baggage space is needed instead. “We continuously have several applications in for STCs,” G.R. said. “We love finding a new need in the market and we’re continuously talking to King Air operators about new products we can offer.” KA
“The Aft Toilet Seat is a good alternative for an owner or operator who wants to move the toilet out of the cabin in order to gain more space,” said G.R. “This can be beneficial for special missions aircraft that have the need for more equipment or seating in the aircraft and still need to have a lavatory on board, or for operators who prefer to move the toilet out of the cabin area for increased privacy.” The kit includes all components needed for installation, including a complete restraint system, life vest, overhead light, overhead vent, and oxygen drop down.
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