From sitting rooms to karaoke lounges to movie theaters, clients are customizing private planes to their exacting standards
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Nov/Dec 2007
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According to Eidsgaard, his firm has finished three jets with Jet Aviation. Eidsgaard's team supervises the construction, checking small changes that happen during the completion and making sure the materials are as close to the buyer's ideal as possible. It's up to Jet Aviation Basel to build everything, and make sure the interior is certified.
"We try to make them look high-quality, like they're very well built," Eidsgaard says. The largest jet has weight restrictions, however. "We try to make the furniture look heavy though they are very light."
Eidsgaard's firm, now known as Pegasus Design, is finishing an Airbus. "The furniture has a very textured feel," says Eidsgaard. "It looks like antiques bought from different antiques shops." Then there's the private movie theater Eidsgaard designed for the front end of a Boeing 787. With its raised seating and a 60-inch plasma screen, it doesn't even remotely resemble the movie screen in United's economy class. Sure, it's been done before—but only in yachts.
While smaller jets don't take that long to complete, most independent centers prefer the big boys. "There's more money in the large aircraft, of course," says Perryman. "You have space to work with. You have more opportunities to make them look more luxurious." According to Eidsgaard, "On smaller [jets] there is much less that we can change, so we have to be creative with little details. The larger ones have vast interiors, several lounges, a sauna, so there is a lot more creativity going into the layout. On the smaller jets you can't change very much, and that's a challenge in itself."
Luckily for the centers, business continues sliding toward the big jets. Recently, Jet Aviation consolidated most of its operations in St. Louis, which is closer to the major airliner manufacturers, and the company is building a new hangar there. Savannah Air Center is expanding to a 101,500-square-foot facility and adding to the new interiors facility built last year and the 12,500-square-foot cabinet shop built in 2004. Associated Air Center has run out of room and is looking to purchase an extra hangar at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.
With the bigger jets, the sky's most definitely the limit. "You'll find almost anything imaginable in these airplanes, like gold-plated bathtubs," says Hooper. "I once worked on a rock star's plane, where everything inside was black. With entertainers and royalty, anything goes." If you don't believe him, head out to Graceland and check out Lisa Marie.
Phil Scott is a freelance writer living in New York City.
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