South African operator Aeronexus has been enjoying a great season of charter with its refurbished VIP Boeing 767-300ER, following a six-week overhaul and seat refurbishment by Starling Aerospace
Early in 2016, Aeronexus replaced its B767-200ER with a B767-300ER to provide the market with an aircraft that could not only fly long-haul, but also give passengers a more luxurious experience, with lie-flat seats. To achieve this, the charter operator planned to remove the 247 economy seats and replace them with 96 second-hand lie-flat seats, which would need a complete overhaul.
Aeronexus contacted Starling Aerospace with the challenge of transforming the 96 lie-flat seats in just six weeks. This included testing all the electrics at Starling Aerospace’s premises in Leatherhead, the UK. Aeronexus also requested leather upholstery for the refurbishment of the seats – not an off-the-shelf product that can be ordered overnight.
Starling Aerospace sourced a special voltage current inverter for aircraft to domestic power, along with a software simulator tool to allow complete function testing of the seat outside the aircraft. This allowed work to commence at its facilities. Everything from the testing, fault finding and troubleshooting to the refurbishment could be achieved under one roof. Each seat was overhauled in accordance with the component maintenance manual and certified in-house.
The next stage was the refurbishment, as the seats were in desperate need of an upgrade. Aeronexus wanted a luxury feel and had requested leather, which would be a huge challenge in the given timeframe. As an alternative, Starling Aerospace suggested Ultraleather as a durable and flame-retardant solution offering a similar experience to leather. All the dark brown fabric on the lie-flat seats was replaced with cream Ultraleather.
Starling Aerospace further enhanced the look of the seats by using chocolate brown Ultraleather for the piping to match the leather trim. To save time, it was decided not to replace all the trim but to use in-house leather restoration expertise. All of the trims were re-dyed by hand in a rich chocolate color.
Ultraleather was also used to recover the privacy screen in a tan color to match the side arms as a highlight, and chocolate brown for the leg rest. A light tan-colored Formica table replaced the original dark brown one for a more contemporary look and to help lighten the overall color of the seat. To finish the look, Starling Aerospace recovered inside the shell of the seat with Grospoint, chosen as a durable fabric that meets heat release and smoke density regulations.
Starling Aerospace says its suggestions for alternative materials and ability to provide all the services for the overhaul and refurbishment of the lie-flat seats under one roof were the basis for achieving the six-week turnaround time. The company also supported Aeronexus with the installation and provided the curtains and carpets, as well as other features including bulkhead literature pockets.
The aircraft has already been graced with the presence of celebrities including The Rolling Stones and well-known sports teams including Liverpool Football Club. Starling Aerospace hopes to continue working with Aeronexus with its plans to introduce the Berthable Divan to the B767-300ER over the coming months.