Private aircraft refurbishment has become a popular option among owners who want to achieve some of the benefits of owning and flying a new aircraft without making the capital investment necessary for a newly produced one. That was what led one high net worth individual to retain the services of Essex Aviation Group to spearhead the refurbishment on his recently purchased pre-owned Bombardier Global Express XRS. The professionals at Essex quickly got to work helping the client define the scope of the project and then requested proposals from suitable completion centers. After seeing proposals from three qualified aircraft refurbishment facilities, the client ultimately decided to move forward with Duncan Aviation.
Duncan Aviation is the world’s largest privately owned business jet support facility as well as one of the oldest, in operation for over 60 years. Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, with major facilities in Battle Creek, Michigan, and Provo, Utah, Duncan Aviation offers a wide range of services, from avionics installations to airframe maintenance. In addition to having in-house design teams at its Lincoln and Battle Creek locations, Duncan Aviation’s designers possess in-depth knowledge of aviation regulatory requirements and certifications for applications and materials, making them a strong candidate for this particular refurbishment project. After receiving a proposal request from Essex, Mary Lee, Senior Completions Designer and Tracey Boesch, Senior Sales Representative for Completions & Modifications at Duncan Aviation, flew to Boston, to meet with the client and the Essex Aviation team at their client’s office and presented their initial design concepts. They also provided examples of Duncan Aviation’s previous work and demonstrated the company’s full range of capabilities. During the evaluation process, Essex emphasized the value of partnering with a completion center with an in-house design group. On-site design staff enables designers like Mary to be involved in every stage of the refurbishment process, which allows for the quickest communication between the designer, the production team, the private aviation consultant and the client, and ensures that the final fit and finish meets the client’s expectations.
Mary Lee worked closely with the client and with Lee Rohde and Tom Mitchell of Essex Aviation throughout the entire refurbishment process. First, the client flew out to Duncan Aviation’s Lincoln facility to review design options and the refurbishment process, as well as provide feedback to the design team. Since the aircraft was not available on-site for the client’s initial visit, once it arrived to the facility, Mary put together a photo story illustrating the look of the aircraft’s interior and her recommended changes. Once all of the key design elements were in place — including a full galley redesign, new specially customized and designed drink rails, lighted cupholders, redesigned bulkheads with blue carbon fiber and metal inlays, a modernized credenza with a custom designed kabitzer seat and a complete customized exterior paint scheme — Mary created a conceptual drawing package, including 3D renderings, to deliver to the client. This package not only enabled the client to experience the final design in virtual reality, but also enabled Duncan to separate the project into different milestones and make sure everything was moving along in a timely manner. Throughout the design and production processes, Lee and Tom of Essex provided on-site support and regularly communicated with Mary, Tracey, the project manager and the rest of the Duncan Aviation team to review and approve changes, handle issues as they arose and ensure the project stayed on track.
The focus and engagement of a private aviation consultant proved to be a huge help to the team at Duncan Aviation.
“We need to address a lot of details in a short amount of time in order to meet the client’s expectations,” said Mary. “The crew might not always be able to devote the necessary amount of time as a consultant, or have the same level of expertise in the completion process. It was great to know that we could contact Lee or Tom directly with questions and get an immediate response.”
“Some consultants approach projects of this nature in a more dictatorial nature as they monitor the work being done by the refurbishment facility,” said Lee Rohde, President & CEO of Essex Aviation. “We prefer to work collaboratively. We saw ourselves and Duncan as equal stakeholders because, at the end of the day, we all wanted this project to be done right and finished on time.”
Once the project was complete, Essex Aviation went to the completion facility to conduct a final review and inspection, which included fit and finish inspections, operational checks, records review for certification and a test flight to confirm the aircraft was fully functional and ready for final delivery to the client. In the end, the client was highly satisfied with the work completed, as well as the services provided by Essex Aviation and Duncan Aviation. For their part, the teams at Essex and Duncan emphasized the value of seamless collaboration in executing such projects. “We had a fantastic experience partnering with the team at Duncan Aviation,” said Lee. “Their industry experience, expertise and dedication to this project are what made this outcome possible.” “Essex’s service is on an elite level due to the breadth of service they offer and carry throughout the process,” said Tracey. “Lee and Tom’s expert approach, pleasant demeanor and extensive knowledge make people genuinely want to work with them. Our experience working with them was outstanding.”
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