Are the cabin seats on your private aircraft looking worn out, faded, or out of date? Seats that are in poor condition or out of style may negatively affect your passengers’ flying experience and, ultimately, the value of your aircraft.
You may be wondering what your seat refurbishment options are and how much it is going to cost.
Cost to Refurbish Jet Seats
The actual cost to refurbish your jet seats can vary widely based on several factors. The size and type of aircraft, size and type of seat, amount of customization, cost of materials, sewing patterns, and reshaping, all factor into the overall cost.
The below chart compiles basic industry costs per aircraft seat or divan with some material allowances. (More on seat type and refurbishment options below.)
Note: In the table, redesign combines the cost of coverings and foam plus the cost of working with a designer.
Different Kinds of Aircraft Seats
Depending on the type of aircraft, your aircraft will have either 9G or 16G seats installed. (The G refers to the amount of G-force (gravity) that the seats can withstand.) It may also have a divan. Options for refurbishing aircraft seats will vary depending on the kind of seat.
The 9G Seat Frame
With 9G seats, you have more flexibility with what changes can be made to the appearance of the seat than you can with 16G seats. You can choose different upholstery materials and foam densities than what was originally on the seat. Additionally, the seat can be stripped down to the frame and rebuilt with a different design. A few stipulations, such as maintaining aisle clearance, may apply.
The 16G Seat Frame
16G seats can usually only be rebuilt in the style in which they were originally certified. Slight changes to upholstery to give older seats a more streamlined, updated appearance might be possible. (Foam density is restricted to the TSO holder of the seats. Sometimes, new foam builds can be created if the designers can get the seat drawings.)
Occasionally, some 16G seat frames may have alternate designs, which allows owners to make more than just slight changes to their aircraft seats.
How do you know if your aircraft has 9G or 16G seats? Aircraft manufactured after October 2009 are required to have 16G seats, as mandated by the FAA. Below is a list of aircraft with 16G seats.
If your aircraft has a divan, it can be reupholstered and have new foam applied, same as the seats. It is usually more expensive to refurbish than the seats.
If your aircraft did not come with a divan, and you would like one, it may be possible to replace some of the existing seats with a divan.
Options and Prices for Refurbishing Aircraft Seats
Replace Covering: $5,000 – $15,000 per seat, $12,000 – $26,000 per divan
With this option, the upholstery is replaced. It is very rare, however, that only the upholstery requires replacing. In most cases, the interior foam is replaced as well because the foam deteriorates over time. In fact, some aircraft interior shops won’t reupholster seats without replacing the old foam. Too often, adding new upholstery to old foam is like throwing a blanket over an old couch – it’s still an old couch and it won’t look good for long.
Replacing only the seat covering should only be considered if the foam has recently been replaced (5 years or less) and is still in good condition. This may happen when seats have been recently refurbished, but the owner wants different upholstery.
Upholstery options for seat coverings commonly include a variety of fabrics and leathers (plus two-tone leather). Different materials can be used for the inset and armrests to create a unique appearance (just keep in mind that different kinds of material on the same seat will drive up the cost).
Logos can be also embroidered or embossed onto the seat, depending on the durability of the upholstery used.
Replace Foam: $3,500 – $8,500 per seat, $3,000 – $6,000 per divan
In addition to appearance, you want comfort when you travel. One way to ensure this is by having your seat foam inspected and replaced when necessary. Foam deteriorates over time. New foam provides comfort and support while flying, and new upholstery stays smooth over the new foam.
Many different foams are used to meet certain requirements, such as flammability. In addition to meeting requirements, you may be able to choose the density for some of the foam.
Depending on the kind of seat or Technical Standard Order (TSO) authorization, you may be able to also change the shape of the foam build to give more support and/or achieve a different appearance (e.g., a more streamlined appearance).
Redesign: $10,000 – $60,000 per seat
With a redesign, the seat is stripped down to the frame and rebuilt with new materials. Some aircraft interior shops will have an on-site designer, or you will work with your own designer. Some interior shops may have specific seat designs they commonly produce, or they might be able to take inspiration from photos of other aircraft seats or car seats.
Keep in mind that this option is only available for 9G seats. If your aircraft is certified for 16G seats, you may not be able to redesign them.
The overall price of the redesign may exceed the price range here, depending on how customized the redesign is, how expensive the materials are, or how involved the designer is in the project.
Additional Aircraft Seat Options
Your new aircraft seats should reflect your vision, from the overall shape and upholstery, right down to the smallest details.
You can add decorative stitches to your aircraft seats and divan. The French/Double and Top/Single stitches are the most common (see photos). Decorative stitches can be the same or similar colors to the upholstery, or they can be complementary colors.
If you do not want the stitches to be seen, blind stitches can be applied (see photo).
Note: Some kinds of stitching will tear through certain leathers. Be advised that not all stitching is compatible with all materials.
Looking for a final, personal touch? You can change the seatbelt color to the same or a complementary color as the seat upholstery or decorative stitches. Lastly, the seatbelt buckles can be plated in a different metal finish.
Aircraft Seat Refurbishment Advice
Refurbishing aircraft seats can be a large investment, and you want to be satisfied with – and comfortable in – your newly redone seats. To help guide you through the process, we’ve compiled some advice to consider.
1. Don’t Put It Together Piecemeal
We recommend that seats be refurbished all at once. Not only does this minimize downtime, but it helps to guarantee that all seats will match because the exact same material is available for all the seats.
2. Know What’s in the Quote
What is covered in the quote? Most shops will include material allowances that account for possible material expenses in their quotes. Ask if the quote includes a material allowance. (Keep in mind that more expensive materials may exceed the allowance – known as an over & above charge – for which you will be responsible.)
3. Get Quality Work
Get references and see samples of the shop’s work. A quality job should include durable materials, straight stitching, and tight, smooth surfaces.
Read more: 5 Things to Look for When Inspecting Your Interior Project
Contact C&L Aviation Group
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