AvBuyer Cabin Electronics Special Edition

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I Cabin Electronics: How to Upgrade Logically I Connectivity: The Lynchpin of your Cabin Upgrade I CMS Upgrade? The Decisions that Drive the Cost I Cabin Lighting Upgrades: Easier than you Think I Cabin Electronics: Managing Passenger Expectations

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Editor’s NOTE Matt Harris

Matt Harris is commissioning editor for AvBuyer. He is an experienced General and Business Aviation journalist and has edited a variety of titles across the last two decades. These include AvBuyer, BizJet Advisor and GA Buyer Europe. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ matthew-harris-avbuyer/

Are you Wired for Productivity? hat’s the point of your business aircraft? Is it an expensive luxury, or a productivity tool? If it’s the latter, then getting the cabin environment exactly right will be a priority. Not so long ago, the time spent aboard a business jet was relatively unproductive for passengers. Cut off from the outside world, key personnel whose time was of great value to their company would be limited in what they could achieve between Point A and Point B. Not anymore. The cabin electronics market has seen many remarkable advances in aircraft hardware and software, supported by external ground-based and satellite technology. These have ensured that there doesn’t need to be many places on the planet that an aircraft’s passengers can’t be in touch with their office, clients, or loved ones. But productivity goes beyond simp ly being connected. Business aircraft are designed to improve the quality of life of the cabin occupants, and for longer flights it’s important to optimize passenger comfort, minimizing the effects of long-distance travel.


Helping Passengers Work, Rest and Play

With a well-equipped cabin, passengers arrive at their destination fresh, ready to operate in peak condition – and the cabin electronics are central to this, whether it’s the in-flight connectivity or entertainment systems, the cabin management system, or the lighting installed. (“More recently we’ve been seeing a lot of requests for cabin lighting that is zone, event, and mood-specific,” Phil Stearns of Stevens Aerospace recently told AvBuyer.) Given the speed of developments in recent years, it’s important for owners and operators to keep a close e ye on the cabin electronics market – though the time between updating the cabin’s electronics really depends on what the priority is. Those who make their aircraft available for charter part of the time will need to be equipped with up-todate connectivity and entertainment systems – a requirement, rather than an option in the eyes of many of today’s charter customers.

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“Technology improves, and pricing o ptions sometimes become more attractive”, Stearns adds. “It’s less a question of how often to upgrade, and more how you use the plane, since there are likely to be options on the market that fit your requirements that will last for years.” In This Issue If you’re considering a cabin electronics upgrade, where do you even begin? In this Special Guide, Ken Elliott shares a detailed overview designed to arm yo u with some core planning pointers. Considered king among cabin electronics (no hitech private jet cabin should be without Wi-Fi), the in-flight connectivity system may well be the lynchpin of your next upgrade. Brian Wilson discusses conservative, and more comprehensive ways to approach this, starting with your connectivity needs. There have also been some exciting developments in the Cabin Management Systems field, with further developments on the horizon. But what are the decisions that drive the costs as you look to establish a budget for a new CMS? Gerrard Cowan asks some of the industry’s leading experts. The cabin lighting industry is also a fascinating area, with a plethora of shades and hues that can alter the ambience to enhance productivity and/or relaxation within your cabin instantly. Dave Higdon discovers how that make-over can be relatively straightforward and inexpensive. Finally, there’s no ignoring the fact that compared to technology installed in the home, car, or office, cabin electronics are expensive, and they take time to certify for use in aircraft. Andre Fodor discusses how flight departments can balance passenger expectations with those higher costs, while keeping ahead of the te chnological curve. If an update to your cabin electronics is on the horizon, we trust that this guide will be of use, helping you through some of the many choices and decisions you’ll need to make along the way. Matt Harris Commissioning Editor AvBuyer


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Cabin Electronics Industry Guide

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4 Cabin Electronics: How to Upgrade Logically

12 Connectivity: The Lynchpin of your Cabin Upgrade

18 CMS Upgrade? The Decisions that Drive the Cost

AVBUYER.COM Jayne Jackson jayne@avbuyer.com Emma Davey emma@avbuyer.com MANAGING DIRECTOR John Brennan +44 (0) 20 8255 4229 john@avbuyer.com

24 Cabin Lighting Upgrades: Easier than you Think

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28 Cabin Electronics: Managing Passenger Expectations

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Cabin Electronics: How to Upgrade Logically With so many variables to consider, where and how should you start to plan the upgrade of your cabin electronics? Ken Elliott highlights a method that can be applied to any size of upgrade on any aircraft.

wing to the fact that a business jet’s cabin must function as an integrated whole, it is essential that any approach to upgrading your cabin’s electronics constantly revisits the fundamental need. Therefore, you should begin the entire process by establishing what the need is. Understanding the need can become complex very quickly, so start by asking what drove you to consider a cabin electronics modification or upgrade in the first place. Some examples may be:

requirement before looking at what else you could consider, where it makes sense, in terms of the constraints and planning drivers detailed below.


O • • • •

Repair cannot be accomplished (owing to obsolescence of equipment); Current owner or operator request; Change of aircraft use; Change of ownership; New, improved versions of electronics are available on the market. Focus on the specific need and address it as a

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The Constraints of a Cabin Electronics Upgrade

There are obvious initial constraints to any upgrade, so let’s begin with those. Budget: There are options of cabin electronics to suit most budgets, but what will truly help to get maximum benefit from your budget is planning.


Can you accomplish the upgrade during other maintenance or repairs? Do you need to access areas for cabin electronics that you would also need for other work? Do you need specific headliner access to mount a new antenna on top of the fuselage (for example)? Can you bundle any of the electronics and associated materials to save on expense? www.AVBUYER.com


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Downtime: As with budget, plan the downtime around other work, access, and upgrade facility time slots. Be prepared for downtime to overrun. Any major project will have its unforeseen issues. Do not schedule any trips until a few days after the projected completion date. Availability: Ensure any products selected for an upgrade will be available, in the version you need, well before the planned date of sy stem testing. Cabin electronics changes usually employ some material change, such as matching carpet for close-outs, wood, or other trim material for new switch panels, or mounting for new displays. Surprisingly, due to availability, material and burn testing can create delays. Certification: Make sure that whatever you intend to accomplish is certifiable. Planning should include a Certification Engineering study before an upgrade contract is signed. Many delays are caused by certification requirements.

The Planning Drivers of a Cabin Electronics Upgrade

Once you have dealt with the constraints, begin to plan around the drivers that will impact and direct your decisions. These include: www.AVBUYER.com


Aircraft Retention: What is the end-goal with the aircraft, both short- and long-term? If you intend to trade the aircraft within the next couple of years, you may need to be more budget-conscious, thinking also about equipping to sell. On the other hand, if you are planning to operate the same aircraft for the longer-term, you can take a more visionary posture and consider long-term use of the cabin electronics. Aircraft Operations: How do you intend to utilize the aircraft? Apart from the category of operation (Part 135, Part 91K (Fractional) or Part 91), utilization includes typical flight duration. The latter tells you how many hours, on average, passengers will occupy the cabin. By knowing that, and whether flights are for charter, corporate or personal use, it will be easier to plan cabin equipage. Furthermore, if flights are domestic (United States), they can operate with an Air-To-Ground (ATG) internet and phone system, whereas if you plan to fly transoceanic routes, you will also need a Satcom for the same purpose. Cabin Utilization: While equipping the cabin for the type of operation you intend to conduct, consider how

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passenger activity will play out within the cabin itself. Who sits where, and what do they intend to be doing on the ground and in the air? Will the same passengers be flying regularly, or will they differ each time? Is the aircraft owner frequently onboard? Make an early determination regarding the use of carry-on devices (iPhones, iPads and Laptops). Many upgrades today rely on these to connect to the internet while acting as a source for music and video content. Security: Check for corporate policy around internet security. For these reasons, some flight departments will not permit the use of internet on board their aircraft. Make sure you a) know the policy, b) know who will be permitted to use personal devices, and c) what those devices may be? Appearance: Does the planned cabin electronics upgrade enhance the cabin appearance? The ambience of the aircraft cabin is so important to some executives and their influential partners.



The passenger experience should be understated elegance, with calm and comfortable surroundings. There should be an air of neutrality about everything, especially if there is a plan to trade the aircraft anytime soon. For c abin electronics, this refers to the way interactive controls and display mounting surrounds will coordinate with the overall cabin style. With an increasing use of carry-on personal electronic devices, there is less to consider regarding appearance today than a few years ago. Who’s Working on the Aircraft? Do you always take your aircraft to the OEM, or are you open to having your cabin altered by a third party? The answer will help direct you in terms of what the factory offers versus what third party providers offer. Sometimes OEMs have pre-owned aircraft upgrade programs, where several options will offer different capabilities. Third-party companies (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facilities), and others, may offer more latitude

Figure 1: Outline of a typical Mid-Size business jet’s cabin, separated into zones, with layout options

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Figure 2: Electronic equipment and options, by cabin zone

in choice or custom, one-off integrations. Whoever you decide to go with, make sure they are capable and approved to both maintain and release the aircraft. You can bet there will be a necessary repair or service during the visit. Obsolescence: Are you finding it increasingly difficult to complete repairs on existing cabin systems? Is the repair facility warning you about the difficulty of maintaining your entertainment electronics? These are early indications of obsolescence, and the headaches that will bring. Usually, warning signs will be sensed, and it is wise to act early by planning a system replacement.

The Upgrade Approach

Understanding the constraints and having considered the planning drivers, you can begin to tackle a systematic approach toward an upgrade. One approach is to grasp the big picture by understanding how an aircraft’s cabin is typically divided into zones (see Figure 1, previous page). Each cabin zone can be laid out differently, and, in the instance of forward and aft cabin (seating), each will have its own layout to accommodate different seating needs. Somewhere will be an executive seat for the CEO, or the most senior passenger. When considering a business jet’s cabin electronic s, you should start from there. Having broken out your aircraft cabin into zones, each with its own configuration, you can place the electronic requirements against each seat, attendant, galley, and lavatory position. Figure 2 (above) provides an example, and for clarification: a) b) c)

The vestibule can be separate to the galley on larger jets. The galley ‘switch panel’ refers to an attendant’s panel, while ‘ control’ refers to galley controls. Forward & aft cabin passenger ‘panels’ refers to individual seat ‘environment and entertainment control’ panels.

Once the zone and equipment layout are completed, include any interior changes. Replacement or modifications to the existing interior may have an impact on the cabin electronics. Revisit the original need and preliminary cabin electronics upgrade plan, to ensure everything has been addressed. From here may be a good place to set the priorities. 8 Vol 25 Issue 6 2021 AVBUYER MAGAZINE

Cabin Electronics Priorities

Setting priorities can be overwhelming because you need to consider the constraints, planning factors, approach to an upgrade, and then functionality. The functionality piece is crucial, because you want everything to play together and not have entertainment or cabin environmental inconsistencies. Examples of inconsistency will be: a) b)

Conflict in who controls what. The ergonomic placement of switch panels and other controls. c) New cabin electronics does not play well with the existing. The executive seat position will have most control, especially over cabin environment, such as temperature. Some of the control will share with the attendant and there will be a smaller group control, oft en by the divan. There are different ways you can define priorities, but one way is to map them out. Table A shows one example. Here the primary electronics groups are listed. The groups may then be mapped out to the different ‘Zones’, including remote equipment, with individual item placement listed under ‘Specifics’. From there priorities can be assigned, based on constraints and factors of planning, su ch as intended aircraft operations. Remote equipment can be located either within the zones, including behind interior or inside closets, or under the cabin floor.

An Integrated Cabin

Integrating the cabin relies on ‘system to system’ coordination. Some of the integrated Cabin Management Systems (CMS) by Collins Aviation, Honeywell and Lufthansa, for example, accommodate many different options and are frequently developed in harmony with the aircraft manufacturer’s overall cabin goals. Not all aircraft are built that way, and equally designs, features, and popular capabilities become outdated or out-of-style. Despite several aircraft having integrated cabins, many others have been adding or upgrading their internet capability over the last few years. Because the upgrade may use different manufactured equip ment, this topic is worth a specific mention. When the aircraft is to be used domestically (speaking from a US point-of-view), the internet can be acquired



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Table A: One way to map out cabin electronics is to prioritize, based on constraints and other factors…







using Gogo Business Aviation, or SmartSky Networks that utilize Air-to-Ground (ATG) technology. For oceanic and remote-area use, Collins and Honeywell operate their own Ku- and Ka-band satcom systems. Viasat is another popular satcom contender, deploying its own satellites. All three companies provide internet, phone and video streaming. Several companies offer satcom via Iridium, but unlike Inmarsat or V iasat satellites, Iridium is a low-earthorbit, low data-capacity and less-costly solution. Collins and Honeywell also act as service providers, along with the popular Satcom Direct, allowing connection with the Inmarsat and Iridium satellites, along with many system features. For creative, less-integrated cabin upgrades, and especially where you wish to retain some existing equipment, there are several options. Alto, for example, allows for replacement of individual components and sub-assemblies via plug-and-play devices, saving effort, downtime and cost, yet providing reliability with newer technology and additional features. When working with mixed equipment, and plug and play solutions, make sure the engineering and certification planning is thorough. Because of variations in part numbers, connectivi ty and software programming, there are potential integration pitfalls. Similar plug and play solutions are also available for aircraft cabin lighting systems, one popular business jet vendor being Aircraft Lighting International (ALI). Here, existing lighting is replaced with LED creating a brighter

environment, and even enhancing intensity and color, with a more reliable and longer lasting solution.

Design for Growth and Resale

Whatever you decide when upgrading the cabin electronics, always consider open-ended architecture that permits future growth, avoids obsolescence or becoming outdated, and will allow for additional features down the road. For resale, any upgrade should be easy to maintain, easy to operate, and ergonomically sensible. Unique and novel features, materials, colors and configurations m ay not appeal to the broader market, or be suitable for charter and fractional operations. As cabins become more like the home or office environment and there is less reticence about broadcasting Bluetooth and Wi-Fi around the aircraft, there will be an increasing reliance on personal walk on devices, providing personal music and stored video content. Also, security is an understandable concern, and compan y firewalls need to be respected. If the aircraft is for any kind of corporate use, involve the IT specialist and begin dialogue about access and security. Bring that person into the cabin electronics discussion early on. This article prescribes just one approach to upgrading cabin electronics. Whichever way you proceed, always keep overall cabin functionality and future aircraft resale in mind. ❙

KEN ELLIOTT has 52 years of aviation experience focused on avionics in General and Business Aviation.

Having a broad understanding after working in several countries on many aircraft types and avionics systems, he has contributed to several work groups and committees, including for NextGen, Airport Lighting, Human Factors, Unmanned Aircraft and Low Vision Technology. In retirement, he is striving to give back the knowledge gained with an eye on aviation’s future direction.

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Connectivity: The Lynchpin of your Cabin Upgrade Whether your planned cabin electronics upgrade is likely to be major or on the more conservative side, Brian Wilson explains why cabin connectivity is a good place to start...

oday the hub of all cabin electronics upgrades is the connectivity, but there are still many potential ancillary systems that should be considered at the same time. Taking advantage of aircraft downtime and interior removal are two great reasons to review the electronics in your cabin. In order to review, concentrate on defining the hub of the system, the connectivity. This will require a focus on how to answer the following questions:


• • • •

How will the upgrade look and feel to your passengers? Will it fulfill the desired ‘passenger experience’? Will the aircraft perform supplemental charter? Does the desired connectivity system provide more than a path to the internet?

Without having a defined set of features as they relate to your passengers’ expectations, you will almost certainly bare additional, unneeded costs and redundancy, or suffer a shortfall of capabilities. 12 Vol 25 Issue 6 2021 AVBUYER MAGAZINE

Connectivity: It’s More Than Internet

Today, connectivity goes beyond just having email and the internet. Systems like the Gogo Avance L3/L5 and SCS provide a ‘Netflix in the air’ experience without absorbing any data usage and charges. Passengers can stream movies and TV shows directly to their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs). Other features include a moving map, digital magazines and weather details at the destination. Yet despite the sophisticated cabin electronics available, a surprising number of business aircraft flying today still have DVD players and other early generation media systems installed. Moreover, many existing switch panels are also becoming obsolete, and can no longer be repaired or reconfigured, leaving passengers frustrated or confused when the switch does not operate, or is incorrectly labeled. And the monitors aboard a large number of private jets only provide limited resolution, lacking any ‘smart’ applications. Moving maps are standard www.AVBUYER.com


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definition, and woe betide the passenger seeking a USB port to charge their PED. If the outdated cabin electronics described above gives a picture of those installed on your business jet, then, given the typical connectivity upgrade takes between two-to-four weeks, you may want to plan addressing the issue ready to upgrade during the next maintenance inspection. Since a good part of the interior must be removed during heavy maintenance checks, this is the ideal time to perform cabin upgrades that enhance the passenger experience.

The Conservative Approach to Upgrades

Circling back to, and defining, the ‘hub’ of our cabin is the connectivity. Here, we are broadly dealing with three areas, including: •


Media Source (Movies/TV/Magazines)

Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs)



The more conservative approach to an upgrade may be driven by a limited budget or a shorter downtime. If this is the necessary approach for you, how can you connect the ‘spokes’ to your connectivity ‘hub’ to give you the best ‘bang’ for the buck? Cabin Management Systems: While older Cabin Management Systems (CMS) that face obsolescence are best being entirely replaced, this adds a substantial additional cost. For conservative upgrades, it’s worth considering simplifying the switch configuration and utilizing applications on a cabinbased PED (such as a smartphone or tablet). Bulky VIP switch panels mounted on the drink rails can be modified to add USB charging and smartphone docking stations. No doubt there is an old audio source that can be removed and replaced by a Bluetooth device to provide music through the speaker system. Advancements in technology have made speakers smaller and more powerful, creating an acoustic surround-sound element to the cabin.

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Cabin Monitors: High Definition (HD) monitors are a must in the minds of many passengers today.It should be noted, however, that seeing the true resolution difference on a monitor of 20-inches or less is minimal. Nevertheless, passengers still expect to have that same experience as they would enjoy on the ground. At the very least, it’s worth making sure the system is designed so that passengers can sync their PEDs with the monitors, enabling them to view their movies. Systems such as the Gogo Avance L5 with Gogo Vision (GGV) allow both streaming to the PEDs, and, by utilizing a splash page application, provides a path for users to watch the movies or TV shows on the monitors. Conservative Upgrader’s Tip: Make sure you ask the MRO providing the quote to itemize each option so you can pick and choose, helping you stay within your budget.

The ‘All-in’ Cabin Electronics Upgrade

Based on the fact that the average aircraft owner holds their aircraft for 14 Vol 25 Issue 6 2021 AVBUYER MAGAZINE


seven to eight years these days, there inevitably comes a time when they must decide to purchase a new one, or substantially invest in their existing aircraft. This usually comes during a major inspection, and could include a new paint livery, interior modifications, and avionics upgrades. Full CMS upgrades are common during this event, many being driven by obsolescence of the existing system, or a lack of features. New CMS upgrades can cost over $500K and require significant planning and lead time. Since all cabin management systems are controlled by software and applications, it is critical that the configuration and feature set is well planned and considered. CMS companies refer to a “software lock”, indicating the point after which any change will require additional cost and lead time. Of course, you could always handle the additional costs by just paying more, but the lead time is firm and can be weeks or even months. Integrating the CMS with the connectivity system should be the priority.


“Since a good part of the interior must be removed during heavy maintenance checks, this is the ideal time to perform cabin upgrades that enhance the passenger experience.”  www.AVBUYER.com


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Keep in mind that in most cases, this integration includes multiple vendors, so compatibility is crucial. The customer is advised to take the lead on this process at the beginning of planning, since it is they who will want the system delivered with their expectations fulfilled. • • • • • • •

Create a block diagram representing all the components. List the features of each LRU. Display how each unit will be controlled (PED, application, or switch panel?). Focus on communication between different vendor products. Meet with the MRO and their engineering team to review, discuss, and identify any technical challenges. List milestones for product, software and integration. Have the MRO assign personnel to be responsible to meet the deadlines. Other cabin considerations are the lighting,

perhaps a new expresso maker, and the moving map (which have evolved into specialized and customized maps). Advancements is lighting technology can transform your boring ‘white’ light cabin into any ambiance you fancy. Consider updating your up-wash and downwash lighting during the cabin refurbishment. The application can be designed and set to match your mood. Bright light for work. Soft, subtle lighting for resting or watching a movie. Choose and preset from many color selections and intensities.

In Summary

Marketing has long associated the phrase ‘office in the sky’ with connectivity. I like to think of the cabin as the ‘living room in the sky’. Since aircraft continue to fly further without the need to stop and refuel, it is essential that you design the cabin to be as comfortable for your passengers as possible. Whether they want to work, relax and watch a movie, or take a nap, you should create an atmosphere that makes them feel like they are at home. ❙

BRIAN WILSON has more than 40 years’ experience in the aviation field, and currently he is the Director of Key Accounts at Gogo Business Aviation. Brian lists Jet Aviation West Palm Beach and Banyan Aviation amongst his previous employers where he has developed and planned STC certifications projects on cabin connectivity. He has been involved in more than 1,000 avionics installations, having previously headed up various avionics, engineering, and interior departments. His background has given him extensive expertise in all aspects of an installation.

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CMS Upgrade? The Decisions that Drive the Cost Upgrading cabin management systems (CMS) can be a costly exercise. Gerrard Cowan asks the industry’s experts for their tips on cutting expenses, from tightly defining precise needs to focusing on the essentials…


abin Management Systems cover a range of technologies that are essential for passenger interaction with an aircraft. These include controlling the temperature or window shades, for instance. Many also include in-flight entertainment (IFE) under the broader CMS umbrella. Business jet operators often look to upgrade their CMS when other work is taking place on the aircraft that requires the removal of cabin panelling. While installing cutting-edge systems will help boost a jet’s comfort for its current owners, and its appeal on the pre-owned market, what are the cost considerations to keep in mind regarding an upgrade to the CMS?

Need versus Want

The cost of a CMS upgrade will naturally be affected by the amount of equipment being acquired and its sophistication, says Mark R. Zimmerman, Director of Business Development for 18 Vol 25 Issue 6 2021 AVBUYER MAGAZINE

VVIP and Head of State Solutions at Collins Aerospace. (Collins produces the sophisticated Venue CMS range). “For example, several 4K monitors will be more expensive than their 1080 display equivalents,” he explains, adding that Collins Aerospace offers the Venue system in different packages. These can be selected depending on an operator’s needs – ranging from a basic focus on aircraft environment controls (cabin temperature, lighting and shade control, Wi-Fi streaming, and other essentials) right up to a highly sophisticated system incorporating a range of devices (including IFE) that are integrated into the CMS. “The key is to clearly define needs versus want,” Zimmerman says. “If everything is a need, then the cost is the cost. But if there are certain items passengers would only like to have, we can set up a system that is really focused on the critical needs for the operation of the jet.” www.AVBUYER.com


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Make Your Decisions Early

Olivier Durand, Business Aviation Marketing Manager at Collins Aerospace, says that timing is also a key consideration. It is essential for customers to discuss their objectives and establish their thinking as early as possible, engaging with the right specialists. “If you think it through and make the decisions early, it will have a very big impact on the cost at the end,” Durand advises. Operators must clearly establish why they are upgrading, whether it be increasing the value of an aircraft before a sale or solving an obsolescence issue, according to Don Hamilton, President of ALTO Aviation (which produces the Cadence CMS suite). “The approach taken will depend on such considerations,” he says. As an example, ALTO has worked with some operators whose aircraft’s hull value would not justify an expensive upgrade. In such cases, the owner simply ‘wants the CMS to www.AVBUYER.com



work’, so the focus tends to be on fixing or upgrading the lighting or temperature controls and other essentials. Hamilton says the particular use of the aircraft is also crucial. For example, a corporate operator might choose to eliminate IFE, an area that may be more important for a private or family operator. Even where IFE is retained, however, there are different options that could affect costs. For example, some operators are moving to eliminate hard controls for IFE, with control taking place via apps on personal electronic devices (PEDs). Also, many operators want to be able to stream music or films from their PEDs to the aircraft’s onboard systems. “They can decide where to put the money, depending on what they want out of the system,” Hamilton says.

Future-Proof your Choice

The key for all such replacements is to future-proof the aircraft, Hamilton advises. The operator can

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save money by ensuring that any upgrade work is itself readily replaceable in the future. Operators should also research their supplier to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that this company will still be in business in ten years’ time. “Some of the biggest obsolescence problems in the past [occurred when] the systems just became unsupported,” Hamilton notes.

Aircraft Size and Age Factors at Play

Steve Elofson, an Avionics Sales Representative with Duncan Aviation (which conducts a range of aftermarket services for business jets, including upgrades to CMS/IFE) says that the size and age of an aircraft will naturally impact upgrade costs for operators. Larger platforms will likely have numerous, complex systems to cover. And age is important on a number of levels, including, for example, that the aircraft could have old wiring that needs to be replaced. 20 Vol 25 Issue 6 2021 AVBUYER MAGAZINE

In such cases, Elofson says “it would be wise to replace the entire system with a new CMS that will be supported for years to come, and offers the latest in technology.” If a system is still supported by its manufacturer, it often makes sense to simply perform upgrades to the existing technology, rather than order a complete replacement, Elofson adds. Though sometimes this may not be possible, nonetheless he advises that operators should generally limit their spending to areas where equipment is obsolete, or where an upgrade would make a significant difference, such as opting for HD displays and other technological improvements “that passengers will use and enjoy during their flight”.

“It is essential for customers to discuss their objectives and establish their thinking as early as possible, engaging with the right specialists.”

Consider the Wider Impact on Cost

Woodwork is often a significant cost associated with CMS upgrades, Hamilton notes. The Cadence system has been

 www.AVBUYER.com


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integrated systems with cabin controls for lights, temperature, and moving maps. Adams emphasizes the importance of developing a clear vision of the final goal, adding that the costs can also be reduced by leveraging commercial electronics effectively, and capitalizing on wireless technology.

Plug and Play – Technology of the Future?

designed to offer a range of ‘drop-in’ replacement switches and other components, eliminating the need to perform such costly alterations. Indeed, much of the cost of CMS upgrades is associated with modifying the interior structure to accommodate the new system and options, according to Brian Adams, Vice President of Aftermarket Innovation at Textron Aviation, which conducts a range of CMS upgrades for its business jets and turboprops. Engineering work is the next-largest cost to consider, he said, followed by the labor associated with installation. “Ultimately, the more levels of integration, the higher the design and modification expense will be,” Adams explains, adding that Textron offers a range of products and price points for customers, from enhancing an aircraft’s IFE system to providing

GERRARD COWAN is a freelance journalist who focuses on aerospace, defense and finance. He can be found on Twitter @GerrardCowan

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Darrell Finneman, Vice President of Product Engineering at Rosen Aviation, expects to see increasing integration of PEDs with cabin management systems in the coming years, including improved streaming capabilities. Rosen Aviation produces a variety of IFE-focused products, including sensor and audio/video technology, and will be expanding its CMS focus in the coming years. Finneman advises that it could be worthwhile for operators to consider ‘plug and play’ upgrades when updating components, where they’re available. Eliminating wires and rewiring is particularly important, according to Finneman. Additionally, new systems should be the same weight or lower than those they are replacing, which means less or even no engineering for mounting structures like bulkheads. And finally, according to Finneman, “Owners need to balance between their budget and their priorities. Most priorities trend towards connectivity, performance and ensuring basic control components are still functional. “Usually, everything after that is secondary,” he concludes. ❙





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Cabin Lighting Upgrades: Easier than you Think With new lighting technology developing at a rapid pace, the opportunity to optimize your cabin space for work, rest and play is greatly enhanced today – and doesn’t even require a costly, difficult process. Dave Higdon learns more from PWI’s Eric Dahlinger….


ew lighting technologies in aircraft cabins provide options to do away with the cold blue illumination from fluorescent tubes, and the heat and harsh light of traditional incandescent sources. Lighting technology has made it possible to make work, rest and play aboard a private jet far easier, reducing harsh shadows along with the load on the aircraft's electrical system, and helping the cabin stay comfortably cool. Most of these improvements come by way of advances in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The lighting industry has advanced this technology to a point where many of the incandescent bulbs used in the aircraft can even be replaced with LEDs that plug into the same lighting fixtures. Custom LED light sources are now possible in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors – and some are able to change their hues to match the atmosphere and mood of the main-cabin occupants.

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Owners can work with MRO shops to select the replacements they want, and many of the solutions are available with short delivery times. In turn, the MRO shops work with companies like Wichitabased PWI, which is adept at designing LED replacements fitting into the same space. “It's been quite the revolution,” explains Eric Dahlinger, Sales Director for PWI. “The benefits are significant and long-lasting.”

LEDs: A Lifetime Change for the Better

Once upon a time, equipping any device or system with LEDs was an expensive business. Production was low, and the benefits remained largely unknown to the general public. But, late in the 20th century, production of LED light sources grew almost exponentially, with prices becoming far more affordable. In aviation, LED fixtures became available as plug-and-play replacements for everything from power-hungry landing and taxi lights, wingtip www.AVBUYER.com


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position lights, and even stroboscopic anti-collision lights. And with an expansion in product availability and engineering to bring LEDs into aircraft cabins, PWI’s business took off. “With last year being a washout, people are anxious to get moving on the [cabin lighting] improvements they want,” Dahlinger observes. “And they want the benefits of LEDs retrofitted to their older, pre-LED business jets and turboprops.” Those benefits may well outlast the airframes in which the LEDs are installed.

The Benefits Abound

Dahlinger walked AvBuyer through the various improvements available by making the transition from incandescent light sources. “One of the big benefits of LEDs is that they generate less than half the heat,” he explains – a result of the greater power efficiency of LEDs (which itself is a benefit to the aircraft’s electrical system, lowering the load on the aircraft’s generating sources). www.AVBUYER.com

“The low current draw means the crew can leave the cabin lights on, which makes passengers more comfortable with collecting their goods and getting out of the cabin. The lights are on but they’re not drawing down the battery. “It gives the passengers an enhanced experience without running an APU, or plugging into a ground cart.” And LED fixtures offer a far-longer lifespan than either fluorescent or incandescent light sources. “Typical incandescent lights last about 200 hours, whereas LEDs last 100,000 hours,” Dahlinger says. “If you put LEDs in, you probably won’t have to think about those bulbs ever again. You won’t have any passengers sitting in a dark seat because a bulb burned out.” The quality of the light produced is helpful for both passengers and crew, Dahlinger notes. “The (improved) contrast really helps...the whiter light produces better contrast so you can see all you need to see.” However, PWI makes LED fixtures in


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a variety of other colors. “The big demand,” according to Dahlinger, “is for the white light. Aviation White leads the demand.”

the aircraft. We make the units to fit into the same space, and to use the same connections and switches.”

Rapid Turnover


Some operators hesitate to use technology that wasn’t available when the aircraft was new. “They worry about dealing with problems, or about the time it takes to get the new fixtures, or the time needed to adapt them to the existing electrical system,” one avionics shop foreman told AvBuyer. Dahlinger explains their worry is without basis; PWI, for example, can fulfill an order for new fixtures within a couple of weeks of receiving the order. And the installation process is very different to what might be typical for upgrading an avionics panel. “We build our units to be plug-and-play compatible with the aircraft’s existing connections and the space in which it will be installed.” PWI doesn’t perform installations itself, but does supply the customer with a drawing that shows how it goes in, where it plugs in, and if problems arise is able to talk the customer through that process. Moreover, the new LED-based fixtures also offer greater durability and resistance to vibration. “The LEDs themselves are sealed, so they can't be contaminated,” Dahlinger says. “We buy LEDs because LED manufacturers have the processes to make them more inexpensively. Then we put them in the fixtures we manufacture to install in

PWI supplies cabin-lighting for Textron Aviation’s entire line of King Air turboprops, and also has approvals for systems in other aircraft that can be ordered and quickly replaced. And with the short turnaround available on newly-manufactured systems, its product line continues to expand. “We have approvals for about 60 aircraft right now,” Dahlinger says. “We’re about to add 25 more to our approvals.” All an operator needs to do to begin a transformation of their cabin through its lighting is to work with their regular maintenance provider to select where, and what kind of replacement fixture is desired. “Once you establish how much light you need and were it goes, the process it pretty straightforward,” Dahlinger says. With a little advance planning, lighting suppliers can work with the MRO to deliver replacement fixtures for installation during an annual inspection, or most other periodic-maintenance chores. And with the longer lifespan and reduced maintenance demands, the one-time changeover to LEDs can still prove to be a significant money-saver; one that can even help increase the residual value and appeal of the company jet. ❙

DAVE HIGDON is a highly respected aviation journalist who has covered all aspects of civil aviation over the past 36 years. Based in Wichita, he has several thousand flight hours, and has piloted pretty much everything from foot-launched wings to combat jets. Contact him via Dave@avbuyer.com

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Cabin Electronics: Managing Passenger Expectations Upgrading your cabin electronics is a delicate balancing act. How can flight department managers balance passenger expectations, higher costs, and keeping ahead of the technological curve? Andre Fodor shares… ne term coined to describe the speed at which the competitive advantage of a new piece of technology is surpassed – causing it to lose its value, applicability and usefulness – is ‘Velocity of Obsolescence’. This can often be measured in days and weeks, as opposed to years. By comparison, 'Adaptability of Obsolescence' helps define whether these technologies can be upgraded or altered, helping extend their useful lives. As you can probably imagine, these two terms have plenty to do with business jets – including their cabin electronics. Business jets are extremely vulnerable to technological obsolescence. Passengers who are used to consuming new, cutting-edge technologies at home or in the work place expect to find the same amenities in the cabins of their multi-milliondollar jets. High speed internet, large and high-definition screens, and networkable technologies are just a


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few of their expectations. The same finishing and materials used in their offices, homes, and cars will often be desired in their aircraft interiors. While the technology installed should also be more a matter of choice and taste (and ultimately cost), it’s instead often determined by lengthy, costly certification matters.

Why the High Costs?

Aviation materials and components must be certified to ensure they’re safe to operate on aircraft. And this can delay the arrival of new products into our aircraft cabins, restricting the choices that ultimately become available to owners, due to the associated high costs. And certification isn’t universal. It will require unique approvals from different certifying authorities from around the world. This stringent process drives up the cost of components, and can also cause the arrival of ‘new’ goods on the market that are already on the verge of obsolescence. www.AVBUYER.com


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Having worked for an aircraft OEM in the past, I’ve seen the certification process first-hand. The development teams must have a keen eye to predict technologies and new trends so that their products have a long life on the market, eventually yielding a return on investment. Failure to develop and certify the right equipment could cost millions of dollars and several years of effort for nothing. For example, I recall once taking delivery of a brand new aircraft installed with iPhone charger connectors only for them to become obsolete when Apple introduced a new charging standard. For a long time, I have held the belief that OEMs would be well-served to focus on providing hyper-resilient backbone systems. In other words, the OEM develops a networkable, flexible and multi-connectivity system for vendors to provide an array of upgradable plug-and-play devices that seamlessly interface with it. By offering the upgrades in the form of STCs www.AVBUYER.com

(which don’t carry the same stringent certification requirements), OEMs could provide assurance that their cabins will remain advanced and flexible, and they’ll potentially gain a market edge. And if the backbone was already in place, the cost to upgrade would be lower, making it easier for the owner to ensure their aircraft remained technologically up-to-date.

The Flight Department’s Role in Educating Passengers

But it’s not just about items like the Wi-Fi or in-flight entertainment that business jet passengers are concerned with. Discerning passengers expect to have full control of their cabin environments, too. Less than a decade ago, our homes began to morph from being lit by incandescent bulbs to LED lighting that can provide tone, warmth and color palette options, all at the touch of a smartphone. We’re seeing a move in this direction in the aircraft cabin, too, while air filtration systems and

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sophisticated food preparation systems are also options that should be available for the modern private flier. While great opportunities are available for owners of older aircraft to retrofit their cabin electronics and take advantage of newer equipment, it is crucial for flight departments to maintain a professional focus on the available technology. The passengers in the cabin rely on their flight departments to guide and inform their selection choices, ensuring their in-flight technological needs are met to the best possible standard. So it is important for the flight department to communicate and familiarize them with the higher standards, safety, and redundancy thresholds that must be met before technology can be installed in an aircraft’s cabi n. Without the information, they may think that the high costs of having necessary cabin electronics installed is simply taking advantage of their deep pockets.

Make Planning Your Key

Once the aircraft’s owner is fully appraised of what is available, planning becomes key as we move ahead with a cabin electronics upgrade. An understanding of the work scope will help with the planning. What else could be tied in with an upgrade of the cabin electronics, which will require extensive interior removal? Is this the ideal time to re-cover seats, replace panels and change the carpets?

“While great opportunities are available for owners of older aircraft to retrofit their cabin electronics and take advantage of newer equipment, it is crucial for flight departments to maintain a professional focus on the available technology.”

Plan for the future, including installing extra wiring provisions with a view to making future upgrades. And, most importantly, seek the best vendor that blends expertise, quality and relationship intention into one strong product. T his will make your experience easier to manage, and deliver results that match the expectations of your passengers as closely as possible. ❙

ANDRE FODOR With a focused approach on global excellence and creativity, Andre Fodor has managed flight operations for the U.N. and Flight Options as well as being a senior demonstration pilot and instructor for Embraer Aircraft. He is the Aviation Director for his current employer. https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrefodor/

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