When our corporate partner FedEx asked us if we could build a chandelier for their new location in Memphis, Tennessee, we answered "Absolutely!" To match the grandness of the building space and our client, the project called for an equally grand fixture. We chose an inlet cowling from a Pratt & Whitney 747 jet engine nacelle and went to work.
Building with Airplane Parts
Like many of the airplane parts we use when we create our aviation furniture or art, we sourced this cowling at the Mojave Air and Space Port (MHV) airplane boneyard, located in the desert above Los Angeles, CA. Originally, we had chosen another cowling but it was too small for the vision we had in mind for this project. The 747 cowling was a better choice as the height and diameter would fit the space perfectly.
Working with machinery and parts from a large airplane can be a challenge. It is not as simple as taking out a few screws or slicing through a few layers and cutting a cowling off of an engine nacelle. However, the MotoArt team has been disassembling aircraft for many years. Once the ideal cowling for the project was sourced, it was carefully removed from the 747. It was then brought back to the MotoArt Studio in Torrance, CA.
MotoArt Loves A Challenge
Every custom project has strict timelines to maintain, but with the very short window to finish this one, it was critical to stay on target. The team, led by MotoArt owner Dave Hall, met to discuss the design, requirements, and resources needed to pull it off. With three weeks to restore the cowling, design and fabricate the lighting components, assemble (and disassemble) into an incredible, one-of-a-kind chandelier that would fit in the space like a glove, there were plenty of challenges to overcome.
MotoArt loves a challenge.
The MotoArt team is made up of skilled craftsmen, with expertise in all facets of fabrication, electronics, woodworking, painting and more - everything the busy shop needs to transform old airplane parts into works of art.
The team pulled together to get it done, often working on it at the same time. The outer and inner walls of the cowling were mended in places, sanded and painted. Parts of it were precisely cut to fit the area where it would hang. Very quickly, the cowling began to resemble the vision.
An Aviation Chandelier Is Born
Lighting components for a 747 cowling chandelier aren't something that can be bought off the shelf. A major part of the planning involved designing the lighting. It was crucial to gather the correct dimensions and information about the location where the chandelier would be displayed. They were figured into the design so that it would provide optimal lighting without casting shadows made by the fixture itself. A lightbox was fabricated using High Density LED strips, perforated aluminum and a white plexiglass lens.
Installing the Plane Decor Project
The project was completed within the three week deadline. The chandelier was transported to Memphis, TN for installation by the MotoArt team. It was cut in half for shipping and reassembled on site. The entire unit had to wrap around a steel I-beam with no room for error. The installation was a success, without an inch to spare. Our client was delighted to see the finished product.The final finish will feature a Fed Ex logo down the side of the chandelier.