Commercial Aircraft Interiors General Manager James Barnett stands in a warehouse of Boeing 777 overhead bins at the company’s new building in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Commercial Aircraft Interiors General Manager James Barnett stands in a warehouse of Boeing 777 overhead bins at the company’s new building in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

This Arlington company was hired to ‘cool’ the Patriots’ jets

Commercial Aircraft Interiors has been making airplane cabins look brand new since 2003.

This is one of a series of Herald Business Journal stories about the people and companies behind locally made products.

ARLINGTON — The New England Patriots wanted their new ride to look as fly on the inside as out.

Tired of squeezing into coach on charter flights, the football team bought a used Boeing 767-300 with 30 years of wear and tear.

The former American Airlines passenger jet got a new red, white and blue paint job and five Super Bowl logos (this was 2017).

But after years of commercial service, the plane’s interior also needed a refresh.

Commercial Aircraft Interiors, an Arlington company that employs 80, has been making tired commercial airplane interiors look brand new since 2003.

In 2017, the Patriots chose the Arlington firm to “cool” their jets. (The team actually bought two Boeing 767s; one as a spare.)

“We take used materials, refurbish them to a like-new condition and pair them with new components as required,” said Carlos Veliz, the company’s business strategist.

Besides a few sports teams, Commercial Aircraft Interiors serves domestic and international airlines and some militaries, Veliz said.

The new and retrofit aircraft interiors market is worth an estimated $26 billion a year and growing, according to Aircraft Interiors International magazine.

Said Veliz: “Everything a passenger sees inside the cabin from the flight deck on — we refurbish. That includes overhead bins, interior panels and galleys, along with the parts that can’t be seen, such as the supporting wire harnesses, secondary structures and hardware.”

Guillermo Gomez (right) installs a new mask in an oxygen box at Commercial Aircraft Interiors’ new building in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Guillermo Gomez (right) installs a new mask in an oxygen box at Commercial Aircraft Interiors’ new building in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The firm recently relocated from five smaller buildings to one 180,000-square-foot Arlington building, the size of a big-box store.

“We do the machining, wire harness assemblies, composites manufacturing and priming and painting here. We’re a one-stop shop,” Veliz said.

Inside the new warehouse, overhead bins and other components are stacked to the ceiling on huge shelves.

In the next few years, the company hopes to reach $40 million in annual revenue, said James Barnett, the firm’s general manager.

Commercial Aircraft Interiors also plans to develop an on-site training facility and partner with local schools to offer internships and employment opportunities.

Overhauling an airplane’s interior isn’t like remodeling the living room. Federal Aviation Administration regulations spell out how every part must be processed and certified, Barnett said.

It’s Robert Lott’s job to scour the world for used airplane interiors.

Airplane manufacturers, airlines and airplane leasing companies are primary sources, said Lott, the company’s sales and program manager.

Manufacturers may have new seats or other items for sale, Lott said.

Or airlines might jettison some or all of the cabin when they take out the frills and add more seats (to pack in more passengers).

Lee Johnson and his wife, Lee Johnson, organize parts for oxygen boxes in a warehouse at Commercial Aircraft Interiors in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Lee Johnson and his wife, Lee Johnson, organize parts for oxygen boxes in a warehouse at Commercial Aircraft Interiors in Arlington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Whether it’s a worn-out passenger plane destined to be scrapped or turned into a freighter, there’s plenty that can be salvaged, Lott said.

When he makes a purchase, the company typically dispatches a crew to carefully remove the interior.

“I always have a bag packed,” said Dustin Welch, the company’s vice president of field operations.

Welch oversaw the project to rehab the Patriots’ two jets.

First, they removed the old furnishings.”By the time we finished in there, it was empty tube,” Welch said.

The cabin’s soiled bins, ceilings and overhead panels were refinished with “bright white decorative coverings,” Welch said.

The jet’s dark sidewall panels, lavatories and galleys “got a much brighter laminate to help lighten up the interior,” he said.

The old narrow seats were removed, and larger seats with more legroom were installed.

Up front, the cockpit seats were re-covered with blue sheepskins, Welch said.

Refurbishing a commercial jet interior from “nose to tail starts at about $750,000,”said general manager Barnett.

“Beyond that the sky’s the limit,” he said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Port of Everett, state offer new small business grants

Port tenants and companies affected by COVID-19 health restrictions are encouraged to apply.

Anastasia Allison poses with samples of her Kula Cloth, a pee cloth for women to use outdoors, near her home on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 in Arlington, Washington. Allison's invention has caught the eye of outdoor retail giant REI and will being selling them in stores soon. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Kula Cloth tries to wipe away the mountains of toilet paper

An Arlington woman’s “spiritual awakening via pee cloth” led to a popular product for outdoorsy women.

A boat drives out of the Port of Everett Marina in front of Boxcar Park, which is one of the sites set to be elevated in preparation for rising sea levels on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How the Port of Everett is preparing for a rising sea level

Big and little changes are in the works along the north Everett shore, though they are easy to overlook.

View of trees at 5th Avenue S and Main Street in Edmonds. (City of Edmonds)
Edmonds council: Home developers, put down those chainsaws!

A new moratorium halts the subdivision of land that has more than eight trees per 10,000 square feet.

The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build more than 3,000 condos. (BSRE Point Wells)
Point Wells plan should abide stricter rules, critics say

Landslide hazard regulations drew scrutiny at a public meeting this week on BSRE’s longtime proposal.

A passenger aircraft at Ciudad Real International Airport in Ciudad Real, Spain, on Oct. 27, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Paul Hanna.
Airlines face ‘mission of the century’ in shipping vaccines

Cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, bikes and even donkeys may be needed to get the drug to rural areas.

New Snohomish County online guide aims to boost businesses

County officials have launched an online business directory to help shoppers find local food and wares.

An artist’s conception of a Zunum Aero hybrid-electric plane. (Zunum Aero)
Collapsed hybrid-electric Bothell plane-maker sues Boeing

Zunum alleges that Boeing, an investor, improperly used intellectual property and trade secrets.

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 20, 2017 file photo a Boing 737 MAX 9 airplane performs a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show, in Le Bourget, east of Paris, France. Europe’s aviation regulator has taken a step closer to letting the Boeing 737 Max fly again. It published a proposed airworthiness directive on Tuesday that could see it clear the aircraft within weeks to resume flying after nearly two years and a pair of deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)
European regulator moves to clear Boeing 737 for flight

The move comes after the FAA already cleared the Boeing 737 Max earlier this month.

Most Read