Where’s the value in a flight deck upgrade?
Kevin Kliethermes, Director of Sales, Flying Colours Corp.
Over the last eighteen months we have seen our facilities packed with aircraft undergoing maintenance checks, interior modifications, external paintwork revamps and even complete refurbishments.
With the restricted cross border flying owners have optimised the time to upgrade assets, and a significant number are choosing to renew flight deck capabilities.
We’ve also seen a rise in pre-owned aircraft purchasers requesting modernisation as they take advantage of the benefits of refurbishing an aircraft to gain quicker access to a business aviation asset.
Aircraft manufactured in recent decades continue delivering solid performance, yet cabin interiors become dated, connectivity systems quickly lag state-of-the-art options, and flight deck software is changing apace, leaving older aircraft operating with outmoded systems. Updating the flight deck requires significant investment, however, the financial and operational security benefits of a full revision are many.
As new airspace management technology comes to the fore, technology on older aircraft will fail to support the latest airspace demands and reduces the risk of non-compliancy as new mandates come online. As the skies become more crowded (pandemic notwithstanding) the international aviation regulatory organisations continue to define NextGen airspace management and introduce a range of new requirements. The evolution of airspace is a necessary development and ADS-B Out is a great example of how equipping aircraft with new technology can maximise airspace more efficiently, increase airport accessibility and make the skies safer for all.
For owners/operators contemplating the investment there are several points to consider. The ROI on investment will certainly be worth it if the plan is to utilise the aircraft for a further three to five years or more. If the plan is to transact the airframe, installation will add value to the purchase price, significantly more than the realised installation costs. With a new flight deck aircraft retain the maximum asset value, a lesson learned by those that did not step up for ADS-B Out installation at an early stage.
Challenger 604 benefiting from the Pro Line Fusion upgrade.
A great example of what a flight deck refurbishment delivers is the Collins Aerospace Pro-Line Fusion solution which is giving a new lease of life to an aircraft first launched to market some 25 years ago. Since inception the Bombardier Challenger 604 has been a robust, reliable platform fulfilling a wide range of missions globally, and the model remains a firm favourite with owners, passengers, and crew, it is the workhorse of the Challenger family.
We are increasingly fielding inquiries about upgrade options and encourage clients to switch out the existing Pro Line 4 system. Originally launched to market in the late 1980s the technology is now becoming increasingly obsolescent. For example the Cathode Ray Tubes supporting displays will no longer be available at the end of 2021, and repairs will likely use spare parts from 2022.
The optimal time to schedule the installation is during a major maintenance event, a complete refurbishment, or during a pre-purchase inspection window. Alternatively for an owner looking to optimise the airframe capabilities the decision to equip the upgrade at any time is a good one as installation will extend the aircraft life. We believe it is a good value investment. From a financial perspective you can modernize the flight deck, complete a cabin upgrade to suit your mission need, install the latest connectivity systems, and revamp the fuselage with new paintwork, and still come in well under the purchase price of a new aircraft. Installing the new technology future-proofs the aircraft placing it on the right trajectory to support NextGen functionality, with software updates ensuring continuous currency.
Installing the Pro Line Fusion solution omits known issues around obsolescence, augments airspace capabilities, and enhances situational awareness. It offers at treasure chest of features including ADS-B Out, RNP, LPV, Dual Integrated EFB (IFIS), Data Link, Synthetic Vision System (SVS), and Touchscreen Graphical Flight Planning. Optional extras include FANS 1/A, Link 2000+, Multiscan Weather Radar, and Graphical Weather.
It will also boost flight crew morale empowering them with equipment that emulates that of a flagship Global family cockpit. A flight deck upgrade not only gives the aircraft a new lease of life, but it also increases its value and operational capabilities. Without the upgrade pilots are effectively flying with 30-year-old technology, it’s not dissimilar to driving a car using analogue dials and hand signals.
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 20th May 2021 | Issue #606
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