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April 2020

If the tone is right, we know that we’ve done a good job

by Hendrik Thielemann

“If I had one wish, I would like to fly in a Dornier 228,” says Walter Devic. Actually, it is amazing that the master upholsterer has never had the opportunity to do so. After all, he has been responsible for the interior design of the Dornier 228 for 34 years. Walter learned his craftsmanship in the automotive business before switching to the aviation industry in 1985, when he moved to the former “Dornier Flugzeugwerft” in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich.

Today, Walter is responsible as team coordinator for the interior shop of RUAG MRO International in Oberpfaffenhofen. Together with his four colleagues, he equips the cabins of business jets – and of course the Dornier 228 – according to the customers’ wishes. “We manufacture seat covers and curtains, and we lay carpets in the aircraft. We cover the side and ceiling panels. We make impact protection for the front seats, and we cover the pilot’s steering wheel with leather so that they always have a good grip,” says the 56-year-old, describing the work of the interior team.

RUAG_2957 If the tone is right, we know that we’ve done a good job

Walter Devic has been responsible for the interior design of the Dornier 228 for 34 years.

In contrast to luxurious business jets, he interior of the Dornier 228 is usually somewhat less extravagant. Nevertheless, fabric upholstery, carpet and curtains are all installed according to customer requirements. For special mission aircraft, in particular, every customer has their own very special requirements and layout, to which the aircraft interior must be optimally tailored. Once, Walter’s team outfitted a Dornier 228 VIP with closets, a three-seater divan and a coffee machine!

For the men around Walter, working on the Dornier 228 is always something special. In addition to cabin furnishing, they perform several other important tasks on the exterior of the Dornier 228. “For example, we equip the inner skin of the fuselage with thermal insulation, acoustic protection and rubber seals,” reports Walter. And the specialists from the interior shop also work on the aircraft’s outer hull: they are
esponsible for covering the vertical and horizontal stabilizers and attaching the de-icing boots.

RUAG_2674 If the tone is right, we know that we’ve done a good job

Walter Devic works on a cover for a Dornier seat.

“For weight reasons, the elevators and rudders of the Dornier 228 are covered with fabric,” explains Walter. “In the past, this used to be a cotton fabric to which dope was applied, a plasticized lacquer that tightens
and stiffens the fabric and makes it airtight and weatherproof. Today, polyester is used, a rot-resistant material that does not need any dope,” Walter continues. The covering is completely hand- made, and the material is delivered in rolls. First, the employees in the interior shop cut it to the right length and draw the locations on the fabric where it is to be glued to the ribs of the rudder structure. Then they coat the fabric and ribs separately with adhesive. After the drying time, the adhesive is reactivated and the fabric is glued on. During this process, the fabric is heated up to 200 degrees so that the material is stretched. Finally, the adhesive surfaces are sealed with a special plastic.

To protect against icing, the leading edge sections of the wings, as well as the elevator and rudder of the Dornier 228, are equipped with pneumatic de-icing boots. These mats can be inflated in case of icing: the expansion cracks the ice and it is blown away by the airflow. The de-icing boots are also installed by the interior shop team. “We glue the boots to the leading edge sections of the wings, as well as to the elevator and rudder,” explains Walter.

RUAG_Do228_0377 If the tone is right, we know that we’ve done a good job

The work on the wings brings a high level of responsibility for the specialists in Walter’s team. New employees are therefore very carefully trained and supervised for such tasks. Experienced colleagues watch them closely at the beginning. And, of course, every step of the work is inspected in detail: “Between the work steps, Walter Devic works on a cover for a Dornier seat. an inspector always checks to see that everything is in order,” explains Walter, who is meanwhile himself authorized to carry out inspections as so-called “certifying staff.”

The test methods are varied and range from visual inspection and checking for trapped foreign bodies to special measuring procedures. “With the de-icing boots, for example, we measure the adhesive strength with a special scale,” Walter explains. He also knows a very unique – unofficial – test procedure for checking the quality of the coverings on the tail units: “When you snap your finger on the finished coverings, a
bright sound is produced, like on a drum,” he reports. “If the tone is right, we know that we’ve done a good job.”

Walter Devic has been there from the beginning: “I’ve been part of the Dornier 228 team since 1985,” recalls the passionate motorcyclist. And he is proud of that: “This magnificent aircraft is in service worldwide and has very satisfied customers. And with our unique team, we’ll make sure it stays that way.”

RUAG_2936 If the tone is right, we know that we’ve done a good job

Walter Devic has been responsible for the interior design of the Dornier 228 for 34 years.

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