‘Well maintained aircraft can be refitted regardless of age’


If an aircraft has kept to maintenance programmes and is in compliance, it can refitted to a client’s desire regardless of age, Tracey Boesch, Completions Sales Rep, Duncan Aviation, told Corporate Jet Investor after the company recently delivered a fully refitted 32 year old Falcon 900B to a client.

However, as Boesch told CJI, an aircraft can be far older than three decades and still be viable aircraft options for some clients. For example, Duncan Aviation has custom painted several vintage military Warbirds originally built in the 1940’s. Whilst the company several years ago also delivered a major repaint and interior refurbishment on a 1954 Grumann HU-16 Albatross.

In terms of the Falcon 900B the project took a little longer than initially planned, according to Boesch, even with a team of over 40 people. “There were some issues with old wiring and general aircraft age, but the main reason it took so long was that the client added items to the work scope that required additional engineering. With each additional item added, we worked closely with the customer to manage the delivery date expectations.”

Refurbishment on a 1954 Albatross

An aircraft can be maintained per the maintenance manual, however according to Boesch, for some owners, it becomes a contemplation of the investment in “brand new or newer” versus the investment in maintenance, which is typically less costly, in an already depreciated asset.

“Avionics mandates can bring this issue into key focus. For instance, if your flight missions include frequent visits to Europe, your cockpit must have the specific required equipment. Many clients choose to maintain their aircraft and bring it up to satisfy all mission requirements, including the required flight deck avionics as well as desired interior renovation and additions such as winglets for improved performance.”

‘Avionics mandates bring issue into key focus’

Boesch continued: “With an all-in investment such as described, many clients find they are money ahead by choosing to maintain and update their current aircraft versus buying new. If you add to that a fresh major inspection, your renovated aircraft can be in service without any needed further investment, only smaller maintenance events, for several years to come.”

Duncan Aviation said one of the biggest things that can affect an aircraft’s lifespan is its paint. Even well-maintained, quality paint finishes that look immaculate are susceptible to damage. Chips from debris and cracks along seams, screw heads, and rivets are inevitable and become more numerous as a finish ages. These are points of entry for moisture, which increases the potential for corrosion. Additionally, how an aircraft is stored, how often it’s flown per year, where it’s flown and what conditions it flies through can also affect the lifespan of a paint job.

While seemingly aesthetic the importance of keeping an aircraft in a quality coat of paint means it is less likely to develop corrosion, but Boesch notes, there is no process or product that can assure complete corrosion prevention. For this reason, aircraft should be stripped, inspected for corrosion and repainted on a regular basis.