Must-ask questions for the charter sector

posted on 11th June 2018

Designing an interior for an aircraft that is to go out on charter involves some very different principles than designing for exclusively private use – or at least involves a long list of questions, according to Tim Callies, head of Comlux Creatives.

Speaking at the Business Jet Interiors conference in Cannes last February, Callies said obvious variables include the size of plane, range, number of passengers and flight attendants, but owners may have widely differing budgets and different ideas about their target customers.

Where will the aircraft operate from and what certification is required? Will it be an all-public operation, or will the aircraft also have to meet the owner’s private needs? Should the interior have a classical look, still the predominant Russian taste, or more modern as Middle Eastern clients increasingly prefer?

Trade-offs between comfort and durability are inevitable when an aircraft is going to be used intensively, Callies warned. Flooring is the most sensitive area, especially in the entrance. Hard surfaces are easier to clean but noisier, and provide a less comfortable feel. The choice of real or faux marble affects both price and weight.

A standard ceiling comes in at lower cost but will be noisier, or the designer may have the freedom to customise it. Any system aimed at damping noise is likely to add weight, however, as could the provision of internet access or a satcom phone facility.

In terms of décor, dark interiors makes cabins look smaller, but lighter materials can be more difficult to clean. A possible compromise is to design a wall in two halves, with a softer, lighter appearance up high, even bringing in fabrics such as satin, and something harder-wearing at lower level. Fabric seats are warmer, but some clients will prefer leather, which is also easier to clean. Likewise, satin-veneered furniture is more durable, while gloss gives a luxury finish but will show fingerprints and scratches.

The client’s chosen seat design and level of comfort may depend on the typical length of trip they envisage, while full-flat or reclining sleeping positions – or maybe the opportunity to switch sleeping configuration between charters – is also relevant. Humidification may be more important to some charterers than others. Some clients will need security, or may specify an air gasper for each passenger, or even specialist equipment such as a stretcher.

The list of choices extends to stowage/cargo space versus an aft galley. Without a good-sized galley, issues such as cutlery and crockery storage may arise.

Electric doors to subdivide compartments may be perceived as adding extra style to the flying experience, but can require more maintenance, Callies said. Depending on where the aircraft is likely to be deployed, switch controls for lighting or cabin management may be preferred in English or another language, with diagrams or touch screens.

Once the main structures and furnishings are in place, there is still scope for the designer to influence the “soul” of the aircraft through decorative elements such as pillows, blankets and washrooms fittings, Callies concluded.