Avoid Flightmare Scenarios: How Completion Managers keep you airborne

Without an experienced Aircraft Completion Manager to oversee the design or refit process, a seemingly small decision can create huge delays and come at great expense. Even before an aircraft is purchased, getting guidance from a completion management company can potentially save an owner much time and money. From missing certifications to peeling livery, the Camber Team takes a detailed look at why Completion Management is crucial for avoiding these and other “Flight”mare scenarios. Get your Jet on time, on budget, and ready to fly.

You’ve been working towards this IPO for years and, suddenly, now is the time.  You’ll be visiting 12 cities in 5 days over the continent, so a business jet becomes a necessity. The ability to work and relax in between entertaining investors – all while travelling quickly and efficiently to your destination – becomes a distinctly tangible return on investment.

Your dedicated assistant has spent months preparing your new business jet and everything’s been considered.  Your aircraft provides an efficient workspace for your top executives, entertainment area for your investors, and a soothing, beautiful space to relax, allowing you to hit the ground running.  With a week to go, plans have been made, tweaked and perfected, and the excitement’s building. That is, until you hear the news.

Your jet’s been grounded and you’ve been told it’ll take at least 3 months to resolve. So now, instead of a smoothly executed plan, you face the prospect of having to meet the same punishing schedule by flying commercial. Everything’s in tatters and, even though you can’t think about it now, the question will be there waiting for you later: how did this happen?

As it turns out, the beautifully appointed high-spec entertainment system wasn’t approved. This resulted in the jet being unable to fly until the entertainment system has been ripped out and replaced with an approved alternative. The new system will need to be integrated into the cabinetry, which will also need to be re-veneered and re-inspected before finally being certified so you can enjoy your new investment.

Not only are you unable to use your new jet for its intended purpose, you’re also responsible for the huge expense of extensive modifications, loss of use for 3 months and arranging replacement flights to your destinations.  Unfortunately, your highly capable assistant didn’t have the technical or legal knowledge to understand the criticality of carrying out appropriate due diligence. In this case, the aircraft was bought without a pre-purchase inspection that would have picked up on any hidden issues.

Form vs. Function

Given this story, it may seem that getting the aircraft you need is complicated and requires a lot of compromise to ensure legislation is met but this really doesn’t need to be the case with an expert completion manager overseeing the process.

The earliest requirements for designing an aircraft with aerodynamics and performance have been continuously refined for over 100 years, leading to the function of the plane actually determining the beauty of the form.  The graceful taper of the fuselage, the backwards sweep of the wings and the smooth curves of their camber spark our aesthetic appreciation.

Instead of having to sacrifice the aesthetics and comfort you want inside your aircraft, an expert completion manager will innately understand the complex needs of sophisticated systems, passenger needs and certification requirements, to find a perfect solution for your specific needs. This way, you can still have the beautiful, productive and comfortable space you need, whilst meeting the highest safety standards and complying with all legal requirements.

Without an experienced professional managing the process, a seemingly small decision taken without critical information can create huge delays and come at great expense. Even before an aircraft is purchased, getting guidance from a specialist aircraft completion management company can save a potential owner time and money, while making any subsequent refitting projects far smoother and more efficient.

For example, working with a professional completion manager would mean they’d define and arrange for the appropriate technical assessment or pre-purchase inspections to be carried out to establish condition and value – before investing.  Recently, a new owner made a purchase without taking this step and discovered several nasty surprises afterwards resulting in significant maintenance work, unexpected downtimes and costs. However, most problematically, the aircraft had not been certified in the country into which it was being imported, leading to the aircraft being grounded while it was assessed by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, then requiring extensive work before receiving its Certificate of Airworthiness. 

Six very costly and frustrating months later, the owner was finally able to take their first flight in the jet – a delay that could have been avoided with technical oversight and a thorough pre-purchase inspection.

Transforming Your Vision Into Reality

But a completion manager’s role isn’t limited to certification or technical expertise, it begins with the ability to understand a future owner’s needs: both their functional requirements and aesthetic sensibility. This step is critical to identify the best possible aircraft solution, not only in terms of new versus pre-owned, but also the aircraft type, performance, layout and features. 

The completion manager then performs physical inspections and thorough review of the aircraft’s documentation to ensure pedigree and identify technical issues.  Further guidance is provided to the owner’s legal and finance team, ensuring that the purchase agreement process is efficient and removes risk wherever practical.

Most importantly, the completion manager will keep the owner’s requirements front and centre throughout the project, ensuring that the owner can visualise exactly how the aircraft will look once complete. The initial brief will be discussed with a carefully selected designer to bring it to life through 2D and 3D renderings.  This will allow the owner to see their ideas and refine them, all whilst considering compliance at every stage of the process. Having these trusted advisors is essential for getting the work done correctly, as it provides technical oversight both at a project management and job-specific level to ensure the best possible result.

For example, yacht designers work with similar briefs, and one might think that these skills are easily transposable to aircraft design. One owner asked his yacht designer to design his aircraft as he’d worked with the designer for many years and felt comfortable knowing that the designer would be able to interpret his concepts accurately.

Unfortunately, aircraft are subject to stringent certification limitations, very different to those of a yacht.  The designer completed the layout to the owner’s satisfaction at significant cost but, as the designer was unaware of unique aviation certification requirements, the design needed to be reworked to reflect the realities of cabin certification requirements.

This not only incurred additional cost but lead to disappointment for the owner, who had expected certain features that the original design had incorporated from their yacht. However, an expert completion manager would have been able to work with the original designer to make sure that the design would be compliant and could be certified, preventing owner disappointment.

Even working through a checklist of things to consider isn’t enough as problems can crop up in unexpected places.

Aviation Paint Points

Aircraft livery would seem a (relatively) uncomplicated task to commission – how hard can it be to paint the outside of an aircraft? One owner dealt with the paint facility directly to choose the aircraft’s exterior colours and design. The paint facility used the right paint and processes but, without technical oversight, the livery wasn’t accurately rendered, failing to capture the vision that the owner had in their mind. When the livery was completed, the selected tones didn’t translate properly and had clashing colours.  The once sleek aircraft looked both disproportionate and tired, with a blocky and dull design.

Three months in, the problem became markedly worse.  The paint facility had failed to properly prepare the exterior surfaces.  The aircraft livery started peeling off. The beautifully appointed interior was obscured by a shabby exterior that made the aircraft look like it was falling apart – not ideal for making a great first impression

Whilst purchasing, designing and refurbishing an aircraft might seem like a complicated undertaking, chewing up huge chunks of time and attention, it really doesn’t have to be.  All of these issues can be avoided by getting advice from specialists who deal with these matters every day.

So, to rewind the story a little: with hindsight and an aircraft completion management service, your IPO went off without a hitch. You were able to discuss your requirements before purchasing the aircraft and, with the correct inspections, you had full confidence that the buying decision was a wise one. The refurbishment and customisation process was incredibly smooth and, most importantly, needed little from you except for reviewing initial briefs and renderings, and making aesthetic decisions to create the best possible space for your investors and executives.

As a result, your team landed refreshed and ready to impress at every stop on your tour, turning an IPO horror story into your very own success story with an aircraft completion management service.