Worth a Second Look
The experts at Elliott Aviation offer insights into head-turning private jet paint and interior design trends.
Founded on a grass airstrip in Dewitt, Iowa, in 1936, Elliott Aviation knows how to adapt, evolve and innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of its clients. The modest beginnings of the company started with Herb Elliott, who worked out of a hangar with no running water or electricity. Elliott used an old farm truck to hold fuel and traded flying lessons in order to secure a well and pump. The outbreak of World War II put a pause on company operations, but Elliott resumed business in 1947, becoming an exclusive dealer of Beechcraft products and the first independent contractor to offer twin-engine charters from the Quad Cities.
Decades later, Elliott Aviation is a diversified company, offering assistance in sales, maintenance, avionics, parts, accessories, paint, interior, appraisals and more. Based primarily out of Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Moline (Illinois), Elliott Aviation stands as a world-class provider of comprehensive customer-focused solutions.
Elliott Aviation provides more than professional craftsmanship and advanced technology at state-of-the-art facilities. Step number one in every project is establishing relationships with customers to provide the ultimate experience.
“Communication between our team and aircraft owners is the key to exceeding expectations,” said Meghan Welch, Director of Paint and Interior Sales at Elliott Aviation. “Accommodating the different needs of each client starts with consultation, education and planning. Elliott offers many opportunities for customization, so it’s important to first explain what options clients can explore. Whether that is maximizing cabinetry, installing newer technology or reconfiguring a floor plan for more ergonomic flow – the first step is always outlining and identifying the options that make the most sense for our customers.”
Designers at Elliott use a 3D, photo-realistic software program called EnVision, to preview interiors using an endless array of different colors, textures, patterns and materials. EnVision’s library contains thousands of options that let the client choose everything from seats to carpets, cabinetry, colors and textures.
“We want our clients to know the full scope of what we can offer before they make any decisions,” Welch explained. “After defining the scope of work, the process can also take some time simply due to the limitless possibilities. But again, that’s exactly why we consult and diagnose with clients. For example, we can integrate a new cabin entertainment package with our top-rated avionics staff, but we can also develop a new seat configuration with in-house engineers. At the end of the day, we want to be solving problems for our clients.”
The initial consulting and education process ensures more timely service delivery and less downtime for aircraft. When clients are aware of their initial options, proper parts can be ordered and service can be scheduled efficiently.
In 2003, an Elliott Aviation completions center opened in Moline, Illinois, offering turnkey custom interior design services, custom woodworking and cabinetry, avionics installations and modifications, noise reduction installations, and paint.
In 2007, a new paint and interior design center was constructed at the Moline facility on the Quad City International Airport. The center combines sophisticated, industry-leading technology with time-honed craftsmanship to deliver whatever a customer envisions. This facility delivers virtually flawless work due to a state-of-the-art downdraft facility rivaling those found at Gulfstream, Bombardier, Cessna and Beechcraft. The downdraft technology provides smooth, even airflow and an exhaust at floor level which reduces the potential for outside contaminants. The computer-operated facility is completely climate- and humidity-controlled, resulting in fast, high-gloss finish with maximum paint adhesion.
“For aircraft owners seeking to customize with new paint, our facility in Moline provides all of the tools needed to transform a private jet – down to the finest details,” explained Andrew Evans, Director of Marketing at Elliott Aviation. “If a client can dream it, we can do it. It all comes down to developing a plan, getting the necessary approvals, and scheduling service delivery.”
Aircraft Exterior Trends: Customization & Personality Paint
“When it comes to exterior paint, we’re seeing a lot of customization. Owners like to get involved in the process and put a personal touch into their aircraft,” explained Welch. “What that means is we’re seeing more company colors, logos and complex and personalized paint schemes. We have even seen some choose to modify their tail numbers to denote birthdays, anniversaries or company slogans. Overall, we’re just seeing a lot of unique, personal touches on airplanes.”
While traditional aircraft colors like silvers, grays and whites remain popular, there are other ways to enhance the exterior paint without opting for loud colors like reds or blacks. Stripes, darker base colors, metallic paints, integrated designs or company logos on certain parts like engine nacelles and stabilizers have increased in popularity. As far as taste, more micas and pearl paints are appearing in custom paint jobs, which can be used to create a wide range of effects.
“While aircraft owners are still sticking with traditional colors, the desire for aircraft to stand out has risen,” explained Welch. “We’re seeing more interest in striking and visually stunning paint that clearly differentiates one aircraft from another. It’s not like we’re seeing requests for off-putting colors, but people have begun to get very creative with paint schemes and styles. You can add a lot of depth with just silvers and grays by working with different lusters, coats and shines.”
Advances in technology have expanded appetites for more unique colors and paint schemes. Renderings allow customers to view schemes that they wouldn’t have been able to
imagine previously. Environmentally-friendly applications, such as chrome-free primers, have also become more popular in recent years. Productivity is now another concern for clients, as many are opting for quicker dry times to reduce an aircraft’s downtime in the shop. Clients in today’s world have far more options than they used to.
“A lot of our clients aren’t necessarily looking to reinvent the wheel, but to create something long-lasting and elegant, but also something that will turn heads in a more subtle way,” added Welch.
Aircraft Interior Trends: Less is More
For interior redesigns, Elliott recommends durable materials that don’t sacrifice style. When exploring carpet options, Welch recommends opting for hand-tufted material from trusted vendors, and for soft goods, ink- or stain-resistant ultra-leathers have become popular for aircraft that experience high volumes of flight time. While considering a client’s personal taste, Welch focuses on client goals and proposes options that also match requirements for the aircraft.
“You don’t have to refurbish a whole aircraft for a new feel. Small details like carpet and upholstery can have an immediate impact,” Welch noted. “Clients still want to customize their aircraft, but a more minimal, utilitarian style has emerged in order to maximize available space. Another noteworthy trend is rich contrast such as lighter seats with darker cabinetry and flooring, and the creativity in the details. There are so many components in an aircraft that options are endless.”
While interior cabins have trended towards minimalism, it’s still possible to customize every inch of space. Instead of more invasive floor plan reconfigurations, clients are opting to make changes to cabinetry to better accommodate in-flight preferences for luggage or beverage storage.
For example, liquor storage, glassware, cupholders, ice drawers, etc. can be added or removed based upon preference, and Elliott offers a full-service cabinetry shop to support clients.
“Another way to add flair without sacrificing space is adding custom stitching or upholstery to seats,” Welch commented. “Some clients focus less on resale value and that allows them to have a lot of fun with the upholstery. Diamond patterns, quilted inserts and geometric patterns remain a bit more edgy, but clients spend most of their time in the cabin, so custom interiors play an important role for their in-flight experience.”
While clean, crisp neutrals still dominate the color palette for interiors, contrast now acts as a differentiator and adds an elegant, modern touch. Contrast can be created in numerous ways, which still gives designers and aircraft owners plenty of room to get creative.
Another trend that Welch sees are people wanting to stylize their interiors after luxury automobiles or yachts. Replicating the feel of their favorite car or boat offers an exclusive, wraparound customization that can wow guests and clients that board luxury vehicles or aircraft.
“The beauty of interior aircraft design is that there’s no wrong direction to go,” Welch explained. “Every aircraft offers something different, and every owner prioritizes differently. We could have two of the same aircraft but go in totally different directions with them. The exciting part of our job is that the possibilities are endless and we are capable of translating your paint and interior visions into reality.”
EXPLORE ADDITIONAL INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR DESIGNS ONLINE AT ELLIOTTAVIATION.COM.