Innovation in Business Jets: What Customers Want
After more than five years performing state-of-the-art interior design, completions, refurbishments, re-styling and business jet cabin interior modifications, RUAG Aviation’s Director of Cabin Interior Services and Design, Robin Freigang, is in a pretty good position to know what today’s customers are looking for.
Use Your Own Device
“We have all become dependant on our high tech hand held devices and I believe clients don’t want to be separated from them when they fly. If you love your iPhone/iPad why should you not be able to plug it into the aeroplane using an app? ”
“Increasingly our clients want the latest technology toys they have in their homes and on their yachts,” explained Freigang. “What they are looking for is personalization and exclusivity and what they are not used to are the limitations of standard cabin configurations.”
People demand customization in every detail with entertainment functionalities and personal space becoming more and more important. The basic needs are high speed connectivity and fast internet with Wi-Fi, in order that they can use personal devices via an app to send their chosen content to the cabin’s large ultra flat-screen HD monitors.
Technological evolution is moving so fast that it’s impossible to predict what personal hand held devices will look like in five years time. They could be smaller but most agree they’ll certainly be smarter. RUAG is focusing on wireless upgrades and display technology, mirroring the clients device’s content in real time. “So the client
can connect any device containing their personal audio and video files and seamlessly stream them to various displays throughout the cabin,” said Freigang. RUAG is basically disconnecting hardware technologies from the aircraft’s cabin monuments and allowing floating integration through the clients personal device and content.
As an independent service center consultant and integrator, RUAG is offering simple less expensive fully customized solutions. “We help clients make the upgrade decisions that make sense to them and in that
process, create simple and less costly solutions. Our goal is to combine the best available options from the market and help bring them together and to the next level.” So far the new division has completed several full cabin upgrades. “It’s a growing market,” says Freigang. “With our innovative approach we are addressing those private owners out there who believe that when they purchase a jet for more than $50 million, that they deserve to be able to select from all available modern technologies.” The company has developed several customized solutions and certified its own Supplemental Type Certificates (STC’s). Even people with new aircraft are fascinated by the freedom of upgrading their IFE and Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) systems to another dimension says the company. Customers are used to using iPad and iPhone apps on the ground and expect them to be fully functioning in their private jet too. “We’re all used to being connected to the internet via smart phone, via text or email messages at any time, regardless of where we are on the ground. The same applies to our customers, only they are up in the air,” said Freigang. “Today’s technology allows for a fantastic range of solutions. We make these products available to our customers and outline options which in many cases come along with a surprisingly low cost of investment. As a by-product the aircraft’s cabin management system becomes a lot easier to use, as all seats on the modified aircraft are equipped with a power socket, USB port and an HDMI interface.”
One of RUAG’s latest cabin designs (shown with the blue sky ceiling) shows the developments which can be operated through an iPad.
“A full surround sound audio system installation would be one option but if you buy nice active sound cancelling headphones the solution costs much less. It all depends on the customers requirements,” said Freigang. Standard aircraft down-times for large maintenance events at RUAG are usually around two to six weeks. The 8C major inspection event on Bombardier Global aircraft gives enough time to redesign the entire cabin at the same time as the maintenance event, however, only small upgrades such as replacing bulkheads and monitors could be replaced in just a couple of days and, “putting in an HD cable and plug for iPad use is not exactly rocket science,” added Freigang.
Cabin Interior Design Studio
In August RUAG opened its new dedicated cabin design showroom at its Munich base. This will make it easier for customers to be at the centre of the creative process as they are guided through the process of choosing the materials and finishes that best reflect their personal style. As well as stocking hundreds of carpets, leathers, fabrics, stones, veneers and special surface applications the company also displays alternative manufacturing methods, modern innovations and cabin accessories. This is achieved by employing state-of-the-art 3D and 2D visualization techniques allowing customers to virtually apply potential designs to their aircraft. Although clients are invited to meet at the center to check out their first interior design directions; if they prefer this can be organized at any other location of their choice. This is highly valued by clients and is a core element for VIP customer services. One customer is regularly visited at his home base of Mumbai by Freigang to keep his customized project updated and help speed completion. The latest design direction for a Bombardier Global sized aircraft cabin recently released by RUAG show ‘woodless’ cabins and full flat integrated 4K monitors, through Wi-Fi, iPad streaming and touch screens. “Requests for alternatives to wood veneer are picking up,” says Freigang – “As modern luxury cars show less wood facings – they come with alloys, fine leather stitching and incorporate smooth carbon fiber finishes.”
“RUAG has been a strong player in business aviation for more than 30 years now and it is growing continuously,” says André Ebach, General Manager Business Jets at RUAG Aviation. “Our global customers can count on strong long-term relationships with us and we take the time to fully understand their requirements.” The company offers a one-stop-shop portfolio of services that covers the entire lifecycle of an aircraft. From maintenance, repair and complete overhaul to cabin refurbishment, cockpit upgrades and painting. The advantage being that this full range of services can be completed in a single down-time, saving money and minimizing disruption to the owner. This has led to solid growth. “Over 500 customers and operators around the world already benefit from our high class quality and services,” says Ebach. “By the end of 2016, RUAG Aviation will be serving more customers than ever before.” RUAG Aviation is an approved Part 21/J EASA Design Organization, Part 21/G Production Organization, and Part 145 EASA Maintenance Organization.
The company offers full cabin modifications for Embraer, Bombardier, Gulfstream and Dassault Falcon models at RUAG’s center of excellence in Munich as well as its facilities in Switzerland. Since start-up, five years ago, the cabin interiors division has modified, refreshed and re-configured around 36 business jets. One of its earliest projects saw the company converting a 50-seater CRJ 200 Regional Jet to a private VIP configuration.
In 2016 the company will have performed 12 minor and major projects; the last two being a full cabin interiors material restyling of an elderly Challenger 604 and a major floor plan upgrade to a newly delivered Global 6000.
By Mike Vines – © RUAG