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Huge Fuselage Departs Teesside as Furniture Maestro Snaps Up Former Aircraft

Posted in: News

Published on: 14th December 2023

A furniture-making maestro has seen a huge aircraft fuselage shipped to his workshop from Teesside Airport.

Stuart Abbott, of Stu-Art Aviation, has made everything from helicopter glamping pods to humble clocks from all manner of aircraft parts.

Now he has bought an ATR 42 from Teesside-based Willis Aviation – with big plans for its future.

The huge load was shipped from Teesside to his Durham workshop on Thursday afternoon (14 December).

Stuart still works full-time but for the past decade he has built all manner of furniture.

“I will literally make anything from a little keyring right up to summer houses,” he said.

“I’ve just done a TV show with Johnny Vegas making his helicopter glamping pod.

“I’ve done quite a few of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces as well. Desks, chairs, board room tables, office desks, wall clocks, sculptures – you name it, I’ve made it.”

The 41-year-old has bought the entire aircraft, and its fate is set to be varied to say the least.

Stuart added: “I’ve already sold the cockpit of it – that’s going down to a company in Exeter who are going to turn it into a flight simulator to train up pilots on ATR 42s.

“Weirdly enough, the guy at the company has flown this aeroplane, so it’s gone full circle.

“I’ve a collaboration with a fashion label in London with an aviation background – they want me to do stuff for their backdrops for Paris Fashion Week. One of the windows is going to be taken out and it’ll have an iPad in it so people can order bits of clothes – which is mad.

“It’s full circle again though, as the aeroplane is French.”

Stuart also revealed he’d sold parts of the skin of the ATR 42 to an Air Traffic Controller in Jersey.

He added: “She got in touch with me via social media and told me she’d spoken to this aeroplane so many times – I sent that to her as a bit of wall art as her voice will have been on the voice recorders.”

Originally from Hull but now living in the North-East, Stuart has been an Aircraft Engineer since his days in the RAF in the late 1990s.

He still works four night shifts every eight days and manages to run his company in between.

“The only day off I usually have is Christmas Day,” said Stuart.

“I like to create stuff nobody else is. There are a couple of other companies doing it, but nobody has done it longer than I have in the UK.

“I use that to push myself. One day I’ll be filming with Johnny Vegas handing over keys to his Puma helicopter glamping pod, which is mad, and the next I’ll be making a £50 clock for someone.”

Other projects have seen him cut the roof off a 747 but he conceded the ATR 42 was probably his toughest project to date.

“I’ve bribed all my neighbours with boxes of chocolates to say Merry Christmas and there’ll be a bit of a shock when a 20 metre plane rocks up,” he added.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s a real pleasure for Teesside to have played a small but significant role in Stuart’s extraordinary business.

“We’ve a great relationship with Willis and it’s great to see the firm linking up with unique talents like Stuart to fuel an amazing creative venture.

“I wish him the best of luck and I hope we’ll see more of him at Teesside soon.”

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