# Interiors

Discussion in 'Finishing Techniques' started by skier, Dec 17, 2015.

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1. Dec 18, 2015

### skier

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No offense taken. I knew I was going to ruffle some feathers with my post. I just find it odd in this industry we're (as a group) willing to pay >$200,000 on our aircraft, but don't demand the sort of finishes you can get on a$50,000 car. There's a sort of dissonance going on in my mind here.

Definitely nice, but it looks like fake wood, which reminds me of the plastic crap used in my car.

That looks pretty good. Again, I don't like the wood look, but I do like the seats, levers, etc.

^^^This.

I'm never going to say my way is superior. Especially since I haven't built my own aircraft. I greatly admire anyone who has been able to complete their own project. From the volksplane all the way to the Lancair IV-P. I just would want an interior to match the exterior. It seems like a lot of people skimp on the interior. I started this thread in the hopes of some more images like the ones above.

2. Dec 18, 2015

### SVSUSteve

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Fair enough but then again, actual wood- especially the high end quality veneers- are going to be denser and harder to shape. Plus there's the issue of it being ridiculously expensive.

That said, for highly polished wood like you see in luxury cars and business jet, most people aren't going to be tell the difference between Brazilian rosewood behind an eighth of an inch of lacquer versus a plastic laminate that looks identical. It all looks "plastic" because of the coating.

Now, if you're going for non-laminated woods (think the fretboard on a guitar), yeah, the difference is pretty easy to tell apart. The issue there is that it becomes a maintenance nightmare as sweat, dirt, grime and other particulates get into the grain. One of my friends makes really high end custom guitars and he points out that right there is a major reason why the fretboards have traditionally been dark woods so that sweat and grime doesn't show up as well. It's also the reason why- as well as ease of cleaning- why even the "I'm pretty sure you violated the wood equivalent of the Endangered Species Act to get your hands on this" interior in top of the line business jets has everything lacquered up until it is as shiny as a stripper during oil wrestling.

3. Dec 18, 2015

### mcrae0104

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Ab initio or otherwise, every ounce of luxury costs you fuel. Some of the interiors are beautiful but would make Steve Wittman roll over in his grave. To each his own.

4. Dec 18, 2015

### SVSUSteve

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So? We're talking about a man whose poor maintenance and design practices got himself and his wife killed. That doesn't bode well for the "eh...it seems to work so it's good enough" approach he was so fond of.

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5. Dec 18, 2015

### gtae07

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That's pretty much what my dad's RV looks like inside, except with a few visible runs of wire. He really likes the minimalist approach. I guess it works for 90% of his flying, but the other 10% (usually traveling with Mom) it's a bit of a handicap. She doesn't like it at all.

My biggest thing is that I want to be comfortable. I plan to do a little more traveling with my airplane, and so I'll take a cost and weight hit to get really good, comfortable, heated seats. And I'd like to close out enough of the interior so it looks finished and helps damp some of the noise and vibration. I don't need (or really even like) wood-grain finish for this, I don't need (fake) leather sidewalls. But I don't want my heels wearing through the paint and polishing the metal in the footwells, either. The Cessna Dan posted earlier looks really nice and is pretty much what I'd aim for.

Almost always the wood is actually a veneer (exotic or more common hardwood depending on price) over an aluminum honeycomb panel, painted with automotive clear coat and buffed to a high shine.

Much of the market feels the same way, and it's why I keep saying that a bare-minimalist who-cares-as-long-as-it-flies airplane is not going to be the salvation of homebuilding or light GA in general. It doesn't say "I can do that too"; it doesn't attract the people who would be fine pilots but don't have the same level of burning itching desire to fly that a lot of us do. To sell to a wider audience (even spouses), the airplane needs to look finished. Not luxurious or plush or anything like that; just finished, like you bothered to put drywall and baseboards and flooring in the house instead of just drying-in and insulating and calling it complete.

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6. Dec 18, 2015

### BJC

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Most people probably already know this, but, as you have alluded to, an absence of vibration and noise are major factors in avoiding pilot fatigue. When I changed from a very good DC passive headset to an excellent Bose ANR headset, I was amazed at the effect it had on comfort and fatigue.

BJC

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7. Dec 18, 2015

### Mark Z

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I never got too impressed with ANR. I use one in quiet cockpits (Bose QC2 with UflyMike) but I'd as soon hear all freqs. I'm now upgrading to stereo audio and am giving a serious look to going with the Halo full time.

8. Dec 18, 2015

### TFF

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Actually I would say expensive interior being shabby is just like some of the expensive cars when both are hand done. Very hit or miss. $50,000 car is done by robots. 9. Dec 18, 2015 ### Toobuilder ### Toobuilder #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 20, 2010 Messages: 4,380 Likes Received: 3,161 Location: Mojave, Ca Several years ago a magazine compared the fit and finish of a (then new)$8,000 Toyota and a new King Air (IIRC). They pointed out that the glossy fit and finish, uniform panel gaps and absence of rivets and protrusions of the Toyota could never be duplicated economically on the King without a substantial cost and performance penalty.

The problem with comparing cars and airplanes is that they are operating under completely different requirements. Aircraft are sold based on what they can do - cars sales are based an awful lot on what they look like. The performance penalty of a supple interior is fairly easily overcome with more power in a car.

I will agree that many of the older generation homebuilts had merely "rudementary" interiors, and in many cases would be unacceptable to me. I fully believe the airplane should be comfortable and functional, but my attention falls off rapidly outside the direct areas you actually interact with (Pilot/Vehicle Interface - PVI). If I touch it, move it, or it directly affects my comfort, then it gets attention. But I'm not going to build a padded cowhide panel to cover up structure when painted aluminum would do just as well.

The bottom line is that "aesthetic appeal" is simply a desired outcome, not a hard requirement (for me).

10. Dec 18, 2015

### Hot Wings

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And then we have minimalist like me that think cars should still fall in that category. As long as its comfortable, (I HATE leather seats) quiet, safe, and equipped with intuitive and easy to operate controls it's good enough. My old VW's and AH Sprites were great*. When I went to the car wash I'd open the doors pull out the rubber mats and floor plugs then wash inside and out. Dry off the drivers seat, flip on the wipers and drive away. Job done! Carpets in pickup trucks!?! ????

I really don't care what the inside of my car or airplane looks like - I'm generally looking outside.

*safety issues excluded.

Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
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11. Dec 18, 2015

### rbarnes

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If remember right this guy's RV-10 also ended up many hundreds of pounds over weight and was blasted by Vans for his modifications and ridiculous empty weight

When a Kit Aircraft Is Not a Kit Aircraft | Left Seat

350 lbs over weight !

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12. Dec 18, 2015

### Turd Ferguson

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Sure, there are a few out there but like others have mentioned, it's not really practical on an airplane. Weight and another biggie is the interior has to be periodically ripped out so the aircraft can be inspected. That alone makes me question why someone would want an extravagant interior that takes hours to install/remove. I like the spartan durable stuff myself but don't have a problem if someone wants more.

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13. Dec 18, 2015

### Turd Ferguson

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At least he was designing, building, flying and experimenting with airplanes vs. just talking about it on the internet.

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14. Dec 18, 2015

### bmcj

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I don't need plush leather appointed seats with a fancy embroidered logo in my plane... I'm installing "pleather" covered beanbag chairs in mine! :gig:

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15. Dec 18, 2015

### BJC

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Guys:

I have one that is more comfortable than any car that we have owned, and one that is either cold or hot, unbelievably noisy, and miserably uncomfortable after 20 minutes. I love flying each.

Keep in mind that we are talking about HBA's. Build what you want, let others do what they want, and enjoy the fact the we are individuals.

BJC

16. Dec 18, 2015

### SVSUSteve

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True, although I will point out that- despite your insinuation- at least in my case I too am designing. In fact, I was just involved in a lengthy discussion with a forum member whose background is as an engineer about the wing's structural design.

And once again, the experience of doing something (it's actually a logical fallacy called argument from authority: A is an expert/has done this before so....A probably is correct so....you can't question A because you haven't done A) doesn't mean you fully understand it as well as you think you do or better than anyone else.

That applies just as well in the case of an overconfident builder as the case of the pilot who thinks he understands aircraft systems or structure better than an engineer, human factors better than someone whose focus is on it or whatever else (another logical fallacy called a self-serving bias). The takeaway is threefold: 1) there's no excuse for being so sure of yourself that you should get willy nilly with regards to maintenance, operations or design 2) we all can learn from others who have specializations in things other than our own 3) time marches on.

Perhaps the better analogy for someone regarding judging aircraft design by someone who has been dead for decades is like Henry Ford getting upset because a hundred years on we're not still building Model Ts. Either way....reading the stuff written by Thorp, Wittman and that generation is often useful for basic concepts but it has this charmingly quaint "They seriously did that?" throwback aspect. At times, it's almost to the level that one gets reading about the Napoleonic tactics used in the Civil War (i.e., marching headlong into massed fire AFTER the invention of rifled weaponry).

17. Dec 19, 2015

### skier

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On the weight question. A few people have mentioned that leather is heavy. What is that statement in comparison to? From some searches, it seems like the leather frequently utilized on furniture is ~2-3 oz/ft^2. Estimate a seat bottom at 4 ft^2 the back at 8 ft^2 yeilds 2.25lbs of leather on the seat visible (the reverse side to complete the cushion would be another 2.25). I honestly don't know. Is 4.5 lbs heavy? Are other fabrics lighter? Fuselage sides might add another 12 ft^2 each which is 4.5lbs of leather for the fuselage sides (again the other side of the foam filling would add another 4.5lbs). If these approximations are realistic, then for a single seat aircraft, we're looking at 13.5lbs of leather for a full leather interior. Then we have to add foam, carpet, etc to fully finish the space.

Most people's homebuilts have seat cushions anyways, so I suggest that those weights be eliminated for the sake of comparison to a minimalist (unfinished) interior. This leads me to guess <20 lbs difference between a fully finished and unfinished interior for a single-seater. 20lbs is significant, especially in an aircraft with a gross weight of 780lbs, but it doesn't sound ridiculous (3.33 gal of fuel).

Do the above numbers sound reasonable?

Remember, we're talking mostly homebuilts. What is economical for production purposes doesn't necessarily translate directly. It depends how you put a value on your time. I would venture a guess that a lot of the things homebuilders do are not economical, especially the people winning a Lindy at Oshkosh.

Thanks for pointing that out. I hadn't considered the removal for inspection part of the equation. That seems like it could significantly alter what is feasible when compared with automotive applications. Though it seems like a lot of those are removable (with some pain), if the need arises.

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18. Dec 19, 2015

### SVSUSteve

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Turd in this case brings up a very good point. However, it's like most things in aviation where there's a viable solution- if one is willing to put in the design effort- is to figure a way to make it so you don't have as much of a hassle. That said, Turd is right: you have to make it durable.

There's a guy down in Kentucky who has a really neat system for his Lancair's interior. Basically all of the interior is attached to composite panels that are held in place with screws. I saw it when they had taken everything out for an inspection. It was a neat system. I have the guy's e-mail so I'll see if he can send some pictures for me to share.

19. Dec 19, 2015

### Dan Thomas

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Interiors do indeed make maintenance a hassle in almost every airplane. I spend many hours just pulling out seats, side panels, headliners, carpets and floor panels just to look at stuff during annuals or 200-hour inspections. Cessna had no qualms about installing stuff with great handfuls of #4 screws and then demanding that all those screws come out every year or 200 hours, whichever comes first, so that you can get a look at cables and pulleys and fuel lines and wiring and structures. And those were sheet metal screws, driven directly into the sheet metal structure, which means that after they've been in or out a few times the threads are shot so you end up with #6 screws and then #8 screw and then...

So little forethought. It looks as if (and probably is) that the airframe was designed and built by engineers, and then the airplane went to the fashionistas, who were wizards with what sells and what looks pretty, and whose mechanical abilities only went as far as drilling little holes (at random) and sticking tiny screws in them, but had no clue as to the weight of this stuff nor the massive pain of removing and reinstalling it. The new airplanes are actually worse, with those 26G front seats being backbreakers to lift and the rear seat being held--I am not making this up--by 15 bolts. Ten of them are into anchor nuts under the floor and five are through the brackets that those other ten hold down and through the legs of the seat. And the whole works is bolted down through the carpet, so every bolt has to come out to lift the carpet. The five through-bolts are in the way of removing the ten floor bolts. The owners of these airplanes complain of the cost of maintenance, and it's not just because of the G1000 panel, which requires software updates and is a pain to get at the ADC and standby altimeter for the biennial bench checks, mandated by law. Getting at anything is very time-consuming. Removing a headliner? Ugh. I often see the results of this hassle: neglected systems, corrosion, and so on, all left by mechanics who couldn't or wouldn't take the time to look at it because the owner whined about the costs. In the end, someone gets stung big time when they buy such an airplane, or something wears enough to break in flight and life suddenly gets ugly.

If you want a nice interior that hides all the innards, take the time to think it out. Velcro is nice but it, too, is a pain. When it's been together for a year, every hook and loop have engaged and you're just a likely to rip the velcro strip right off the panel or the structure. Self-sticking Velcro lasts about two years, and then the stickum lets go. If you use screws, use anchor nuts, not the structure, to hold them, and make sure you can replace them without taking the airplane half apart. If it was me designing an interior, I'd be tempted to use snaps, like they use on jackets or Western shirts or boat covers. I would use fabric instead of leather or vinyl. It's lighter and doesn't shrink with age. Panels need to be a light as possible and they need to fit so that they almost install themselves.

20. Dec 19, 2015

### Daleandee

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Besides the weight of a luxurious interior, and the extra effort of having to remove it for annual inspections, there is also the concern of physical space in the cockpit area. Most of these home built aircraft have pretty small cockpits and thus a lot of padding and finishing panels eat up what little bit of valuable space is available.

In my Cleanex (notorious for a small cockpit area) I tried to do everything possible to maximize that available space. These things included:

1) Using the factory 30º tilt for the panel for more space between pilot/passenger. This is a safety issue as in a forward crash as there is more room before the panel stops your face from it's forward motion as opposed to a vertical panel that moves it closer to the occupants.

2) Maximize side width i.e. some builders install a "tilt back canopy" but that requires the supporting arms to come down on each side next to the pilot and passenger and takes up space.

3) Single center stick. This leaves the option of flying left or center seat. Another bonus (known only to experienced Sonex pilots) is that the center stick/left seat position prevents the stall warning device known as "the control stick triangle meets Mr. Johnson when using full back stick." Single center stick leaves a lot more room in the cockpit and makes entry and egress easier.

4) Not putting sub panels under the main panel that blocks legroom. Others have also extended the entire panel lower but again that takes up leg room and cramps the cockpit.

5) Trying to prevent placing items on the glareshield. Doing so blocks vision and gives the cockpit a smaller appearance.

6) Placing all the controls on the left. Makes flying safer (no "hand dance" with the controls) and gives much more room than center mounted controls.

7) Using the plans side mounted trim lever instead of a big red "Dial-A-Trim" knob sticking out of the panel.

8) Using the factory canopy. Todd's canopies makes a canopy that is a bit taller but the sides are not as roomy and it had a weird shape overall. The factory canopy mounted as high as possible to get a good line to match the turtle deck to cowling transition was my choice.

9) A single layer of cushion. It is adequate and if more is needed for a longer cross country flight it can be added.

10) Using a Clarity Aloft headset that gives me room to wear a full brim hat and keep the sun off my ears and neck!

I'm using the factory interior but with my ideas implemented it leaves as much room as possible, doesn't have a great weight penalty, and it's very easy to remove. To me ... that is a luxury! Here's what I arrived at:

Dale Williams
N319WF @ 6J2
Myunn - "daughter of Cleanex"
120 HP - 3.0 Corvair
Tail Wheel - Center Stick
Signature Finish 2200 Paint Job
113.4 hours / Status - Flying

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