VIDEO: A colourful Citation 560XLS completed at Duncan Aviation


Colombian-American contemporary artist Nancy Friedemann Sánchez lent her talents to the design of this Citation 560XLS, which Duncan Aviation completed in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2019.

Duncan Aviation overhauled the exterior and interior of the company-owned aircraft with a design requested by chairman Emeritus J. Robert Duncan and his wife Karen.

The artwork of Friedemann Sánchez draws heavily on things women would historically paint, like flowers, lace and birds. After one of Friedemann Sánchez’s art shows, Karen Duncan commented that it would be great to see some of her flowers on an aircraft, adding that she also liked Friedemann Sánchez’s birds and was especially fond of ravens.

The seats were reupholstered with colourful leather and an embroidered raven detail

The seats were reupholstered with colourful leather and an embroidered raven detail

“Working on a commissioned art piece is quite different from expressing yourself in a piece for a personal show,” said Friedemann Sánchez. “You want to please the client, so you really listen to their desires and preferences. This piece began as colonial flowers on black. Teri Nekuda helped tremendously with the application of the artwork to the aircraft. [With the required reflectant value on Citation aircraft], black couldn’t happen. And because the canvas was an aircraft, we couldn’t have a direct mirror of my work.”

“Robert loves the wow factor, and this aircraft certainly provides that,” said Teri Nekuda, completions designer with Duncan Aviation. “It is definitely a conversation starter.”

The livery design

The design process took more than 12 months. “Nancy was a pleasure to collaborate with and we had a lot of conversations about the colours, paint reflectant values, and how the artistic elements would conform with the angles and shapes of an aircraft, as well as how aviation regulations would affect the overall design,” said Nekuda.

Friedemann Sánchez started with small sketches of the various elements, and progressed to larger collages. Nekuda then scanned them and used computer design software to overlay them on the Citation 560XLS. Together, she and Nekuda worked with paint master specialists Stacy Finch and Troy Reinke and paint layout specialists III Justin Machacek to refine the elements and test them with a myriad of colours.

The Citation 560XLS's new livery features 23 aviation paint colours

The Citation 560XLS’s new livery features 23 aviation paint colours

Ultimately, the team chose a base colour of medium blue. This is a robin-egg blue that Friedemann Sánchez said is vibrant and reminiscent of sky, but doesn’t detract from the flowers and other elements.

“We then went back to hand-drawing on the airplane,” said Friedemann Sánchez. “I worked with Stacy, Troy and Justin as they developed stencils for the various elements and together we wrapped the flowers around the aircraft, adding vines and other pieces where they were needed to tie the elements together and create the proper movement. The team at Duncan Aviation is just marvellous. They are masters and the finished product becomes a hybrid of all of the visions involved; but those are my flowers. They represent my work. It’s me.”

Paint layout

The design utilises 23 specific aviation paint colours. Completing it required 101 rolls of painter’s tape, 75 paint mixing cups, 135 cup liners and 288 touch-up brushes.

The artist’s final two-dimensional rendition was created with brushstrokes on canvas, Finch explained: “We had to convert those brushstrokes into solid paint colours that we could apply with spray. The aircraft was divided into 14 sections and we had a team of six who would mask and unmask as needed to apply each colour to the different areas. Since everything is covered, it was a challenge to remember where each colour went. It’s like working on a big puzzle.”

The Citation 560XLS's headliner, window panels, lower sidewalls, seats and carpeting were refurbished

The Citation 560XLS’s headliner, window panels, lower sidewalls, seats and carpeting were refurbished

The interior design

The interior of the Citation 560XLS was in decent condition, but with such a unique paint scheme, it needed to better complement the exterior.

The Duncan Aviation team kept the veneer and cabinetry, but refurbished the headliner, window panels, lower sidewalls, seats and carpeting.

The interior sports strawberry and cayenne-coloured leather and features intricate embroidery, including a special raven in honour of Karen. The unique carpet design has a cut pile with an abstract dropdown well and a design reminiscent of animal hide.

Duncan Aviation upgraded the flight deck to the Garmin G5000 avionics suite; its first installation of this system.

Making a statement

Overall the Duncan’s goal for this Citation 560XLS project was to make a statement. “It’s a flying, traveling billboard that catches people’s attention and shows them that Duncan Aviation is different,” said Robert Duncan. “It is a great way to share our innovation and creativity as a company, the talent of our team members, and the quality of our workmanship. It has been fun to work on. People are either going to love it or they’re going to hate it. There will be no middle ground. But everyone will talk about it.”

Ryan Oestmann, project manager for this aircraft workscope, said the aircraft is representative of what is possible through the teamwork and innovation of Duncan Aviation team members. “Personally, I love it,” said Oestmann. “I think it is great that Robert and Karen were able to take their passions for fine art and flying and combine them into a spectacular showpiece is nothing short of amazing.”

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Izzy has been part of the Business Jet Interiors International team since its second issue, and the editor since 2011. She also edits Auditoria and Railway Interiors International. Outside of work, Izzy is rediscovering her love of art by learning how to paint with watercolors.

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