Duncan Aviation recently hydrodipped all the interior components for a Citation XLS refurbishment in 10 days, for a new fleet operator customer.
“With any of our customers, the challenge is always downtime,” said Chris Nelson, finish shop team leader. “When their plane is down, their flight schedules can be impacted greatly, and in this case, they simply couldn’t be down for more than 10 days. That was the challenge put before us. We accepted and knocked it out of the park.”
Nelson and his team hydrodipped the lavatory cabinet, vanity, aft dividers, pocket doors, drink rails, tables, left-hand forward galley and right-hand forward entertainment cabinet with a design that was similar to a flat-cut walnut veneer with a grey background.
When Nelson was initially informed of this project, he knew he would have to get the shop and his team ready.
“We had all of the tools and experience we needed to complete the job, just not quite what we needed to get it done in such an incredible downtime,” said Nelson. “To make sure we met our client’s expectations and to ensure the project ran smoothly, we ended up making a few changes to the layout of our shop and added some specialised tooling.”
Project manager Steve Devitt said there was some uncertainty at first when the idea came to life. “Once we started planning and laid out a detailed schedule for every shift of every day, we all saw that we could be successful and produce the Duncan Aviation quality standard that is expected,” said Devitt. “The teams did a fantastic job communicating and working together. The end product reflected the effort.”
The president of the aircraft management company said that the final product exceeded their expectations, and it looks better than new. “The final product was nothing short of amazing,” he said. “The communication was excellent all the way through the project. In fact, it was so good I will be bringing more business to Duncan Aviation in Lincoln [Nebraska].”
Nelson estimates that this project would have taken more than double the time had it been completed using traditional methods to apply all new veneer to the cabinets. With downtimes being such a driving factor, the Duncan Aviation teams are always looking for ways to innovate while delivering the quality people will come back for. The company said that with hydrographics, the driving factors are only limited to your imagination.
“There were so many different team members and departments that got involved to make this project come together, it was amazing,” said Nelson. “That’s probably the most exciting thing, knowing that there is such a talented group of individuals at Duncan Aviation creating solutions to meet the expectations of our clients.”
Hydrographic processes have developed greatly at Duncan Aviation since they were introduced. The team first started with some basic tooling to prove concept and evaluate if the solution should be offered to customers. The two to three-year journey has consisted of continually upgrading equipment and finding new challenges. The finish shop currently has two full-size dipping tanks, two full-size rinse tanks and an automatic dipping arm, and is in the process of building an automatic spray arm.
“I see this really exploding in the industry as a whole,” said Nelson. “It’s exciting to know Duncan Aviation was at the forefront of bringing hydrographics to the business aviation industry. We are truly at the cutting edge of innovation.”
The project also involved the installation of new table inserts, some minor leather work and a complete overhaul of the wheels and tires.