Plane & Pilot
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Redressing A Skylane: Project 182, Part II


Flying by the seat of your pants is more comfortable and fun when you’re nestled into a supercomfortable seat surrounded by first-class furnishings


project 182Someone in the aircraft refurbishment business once said (or should have said), “The paint may be what you see, but the interior is where you live.” So it is with Plane & Pilot’s Project Skylane. Since buying the 1981 Cessna 182 on the East Coast three years ago as a fixer-upper, we’ve done equal shares of research, hand-wringing and procrastination. Eventually, we had no choice but to actually give birth to the project. As a result, we’ve finally managed to finish the panel, paint and interior.
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“We use varying density foams for different parts of the seats,” explains Hallock. “High-density foams for the lumbar and side bolster areas, and medium-density foams for seat base and kidney support zones. Confor foam, a product developed by NASA for various applications in the space program, is applied over the base foams to dampen turbulence and vibration. This is the same material used in military ejection seats, and its excellent damping qualities have been proven to reduce G-impact loads by as much as two-thirds.”

Soundproofing is typically one-inch-thick, closed-cell foam, and Aviation Design typically tucks it into any nook or cranny where there’s even a possibility of noise transmission. Another important improvement many buyers select is new Plexiglas all around, from windshields to eyebrows to side windows. Thicker Plexiglas can further reduce cockpit noise, a significant fatigue factor.

project 182Side panels and headliners are stripped to the basic framework, repaired if possible or, in some cases, remanufactured using the original as a model. Hallock typically finishes the parts in the same seat-leather material and builds in larger or additional side pockets to customer specifications.

The bottom line for a typical general aviation single like our Skylane, refinished in leather by Aviation Design, is about $22,000 and four weeks of downtime. A six-seat aircraft, a Bonanza, Saratoga or Stationair, may run $10,000 more because everything is scaled up by a factor of at least 50%. Neither of these prices includes the new Plexiglas.

New upholstery won’t make your airplane climb quicker or fly faster. It won’t improve fuel burn, reduce maintenance or insurance costs or increase range. What it will do, however, is make your time in the cockpit more pleasurable. Remember that a comfortable, undistracted pilot is a safer pilot.

 



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