Add Headrests to PA-32

Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by WiPilot, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. WiPilot

    WiPilot Pre-Flight

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    Not sure if I'm posting this to the right area, so if not feel free to move this or tell me where to move it.

    I have a 1969 PA-32-300 without headrests and am looking to re-do the seats. I want to add headrests during the re-upholstering process and am getting some mixed feedback and blank stares.

    Anyone know what my options are here without spending more than I spent on the plane itself to add a simple headrest?
     
  2. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't think there's any specific reference to adding headrests anywhere in FAR 43. But...

    Based on the spirit of Appendix A, I'm going to guess that if the headrests are specifically approved by the manufacturer or STC'd for the airplane, it would be considered a "minor alteration" and require only a log book entry by an A&P (and possibly a new W&B) unless otherwise specified by the approval or STC.

    Otherwise, because it unavoidably would require alteration of the seat frame (rather than simple replacement of seat parts), I think it would qualify as a "major alteration."

    I don't think it could ever qualify as "preventive maintenance" because "replacement" implies that the replacement seats or parts are identical to what's already there. You would be performing an "alteration."

    Rich
     
  3. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    check your parts manual.....for your serial number. If one exists for your SN it's a minor and a log book entry. If one exists, but not for your SN, it could require a field approval using a 337 and FSDO stamp in box #3 and should be an easy painless paper exercise....but, your mileage may vary based on your FSDO.

    Now, modification of existing parts to "change" the part to a newer part may or may "not" be possible. You may need to purchase the newer seat and get the 337 field approval to do the install.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  4. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Is the problem that the existing seats have never had headrests, or that the headrests have vanished in the last 49 years? PA-32s have been produced in both variants, and the answer will be different.
     
  5. WiPilot

    WiPilot Pre-Flight

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    The seats have never had headrests; I'm told they are the frame design that does not have the headrest support, and there are certainly no visible "holes" in the upper part of the seat where a headrest would go.

    I've also been told that 1971+ PA-32 seats are basically a drop-in replacement for my seats and have headrests....but at ~$1300 a piece for the ones I've been able to find kind of borderlines insanity considering I'd be buying a seat I intend to tear apart and reupholster anyways...

    On the surface, it would seem that once the seat material is removed and only the steel frame remains, 2 holes could be drilled in the frame and some hardware put in there that would add the headrest. But understanding the complexities of "modifications" here, I'm trying to figure out what my options are.

    I can't be the only one with this problem...would seem there might be an STC or something like that for this? But I dont know where to look.
     
  6. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Welcome to the hobby killing obfuscation we call certified recreational GA. You're not the first one to grow frustrated at it. To be clear, this is another reason people say buy the airplane you want already set up the way you want. Thinking this cliché only applies to avionics is a common mistake made.

    Tearing into those seats and modifying the structure is generally a non starter in the Dr. No side of aviation. You could scoff law it and make those headrest inserts magically disappear during annual, I suppose.

    Otherwise you are looking at very much the ridiculous option you cited of overpaying for those tinker toy hanger wire 1970s used seats with headrests already on them. That's gonna be the legal answer, and it's done with general frequency, but the pricing structure blows if you don't have buddies in the hobby to hook you up.

    Of course this is all for naught. The real question is why there isn't a Cherokee six in the exab market. I already know that answer, I'm merely being rhetorical.
     
    Checkout_my_Six likes this.
  7. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    At this point your best course of action would be to sell the plane. For valuation purposes Not having headrests to me is similar to being 500 past TBO and missing a logbook. I’ll be happy to take it of your hands ;)