SheepSkin Seat Covers: DIY Comfort

Improbably, theyre warm in the winter and cool in the summer. All three vendors offer good products, but Aircraft Spruce has the bargain price.

Most airplane seats are poor places to park your keister for a few hours. After a decade or so of the temperature extremes found on the typical airport ramp, their foam deteriorates, eliminating any resilience in the cushions and creating a permanent sag. The vinyl and fabric-or, if youre lucky, leather-has long since started to rip apart at the seams, snagging shirts and trousers as you shift and squirm.

A good interior shop can fix this for a grand per seat, but there

are less-expensive options, including ready-made upholstery you install yourself. One often-overlooked option is to do nothing at all with the seat itself but simply hide the ugliness and discomfort with a custom-fit cover. A wide variety of materials are available-especially if you don’t mind installing something from the automotive market. One of the more popular options is the made-to-fit sheepskin seat cover. Installing one automagically resolves several issues, among them eliminating the hot/cold seat, sticky vinyl and unsightly, worn and torn upholstery. They trap air between you and the seat itself, so theyre cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, plus they wick away moisture, like the sweat from your next flight review.

To find out if theyre a viable option for personal aircraft, we obtained samples from three of the popular vendors-Aerosheep, Aircraft Spruce and Sportys-and installed them in our Debonair. All were high-quality products, with similar finishing details and many similarities, along with a few differences.


A sheepskin seat cover isn’t without its drawbacks. For one, the added thickness can further crowd an already too-tight cockpit. If youre close to bumping your head against the cockpit ceiling already, the extra thickness they add to the seat may eliminate any remaining room. For another, they also add thickness to the seat at the sides. Put a sheepskin cover on a seat already close to the cabin sidewalls-whether by design or deformed by years of use-and it may fit so snugly that adjusting the seats fore-and-aft position becomes difficult. The same is true for retractable arm rests between the seats, for example, or consoles.

Installing anything in a low-wing airplane cabin with only one door can be a chore and these seat covers were no exception. Each sample we examined came with sturdy fabric straps and either heavy-duty metal clasps or hooks to secure them. The straps are designed to secure the cover to the seat back, under the seat bottom and through the gap between the two. Covers we obtained from Aircraft Spruce and Sportys were one-piece designs, encompassing the headrest; the Aerosheep cover came in two pieces, including a separate one for the headrest.

To do this right, at least in our airplane, wed want to remove the seats from the airplane entirely, install the covers and then reinstall the finished product. On some airplanes-double-door Cessnas, for example-thats probably not a big deal. On ours, it is, as it might be on other single-door airplanes.

But the effort would be worth it. The covers we examined were all we’ll made, with thick fleece and heavy-duty stitching. Each was nicely finished, with piping sewn to the edges and each product left uncovered the seatback, allowing ready access to map pockets for rear-seat passengers. While it will require a few years of use to tell the tale, all the straps appeared up to the task and used a minimum of elastic, which loses strength

over time. With one exception, the attachment methods used heavy-duty hardware, with what appear to be chrome-plated hooks and clasps. The exception involved Aerosheeps cover, which used a hook-and-loop fabric fastener in two places. More on that in a moment.

One thing to keep in mind when considering sheepskin seat covers for your airplane: None of the vendors keep ready-made covers on the shelf, ready to ship. Instead, each cover is custom-made when ordered. If your seats arent stock for your airplane-if theyve been reupholstered and, perhaps, modified since new-be sure to mention this when ordering. All three vendors supply a measurement form for this purpose; fill it out and mail or fax back the form to complete your order.

This also means its highly unlikely you’ll be able to order these covers one day, have them shipped overnight and install them the next. Allow several days from ordering to receipt. Another thing: We werent able to evaluate how we’ll these covers will stand up to the wear and tear of a personal airplanes cabin over the long term. Based on the heavy-duty materials used and their thickness, however, were fairly confident the covers we examined will last several hundred hours, or at least until you break down and get the seats reupholstered.


Earlier, we mentioned the Aerosheep cover came in two pieces, one for the headrest and the other for the rest of the seat. Thats different from the covers supplied by Aircraft Spruce and by Sportys, both of which were one-piece affairs. The Aerosheep headrest cover fit nicely, using our supplied dimensions. It has a slit on the bottom, with color-coordinated hook-and-loop fabric closures-once installed, no one will notice.

A similar arrangement is also used at the top of the seatback, to clear the headrest support rods. For a permanent installation, wed want to judiciously cut out a portion of the hook-and-loop fabric where it interferes with the headrest supports on both pieces. This two-piece cover design adds a bit of work to your installation, but also allows you to adjust the headrest as you might like it after the cover goes on.

The Aerosheep cover also uses an attachment arrangement differing from the other vendors. Instead of straps sewn to the covers underside and terminating in hooks, it uses a cam-style clamp to secure them to the cover. In our view, this allows custom positioning of the covers during installation and, if that portion wears out, the clamp can be relocated. Similarly, the straps can be replaced in the field if they break; a broken strap on the other covers would require their removal and some heavy-duty stitching to repair correctly.

The covers supplied by Aircraft Spruce and by Sportys were very similar in design, construction and finish. For one, they were both one-piece products, eliminating the need to separately install the headrest cover. Thats good and bad: We never reposition our headrest, leaving it against the top of the seat, so a one-piece design would work we’ll in our installation. It may not work we’ll for yours. That said, both Spruce and Sportys offer two-piece products, and Aerosheep tells us theyre happy to make a one-piece cover.

Other details involving the covers from Aircraft Spruce and Sportys include what seemed slightly thicker fleece, at least when compared to the Aerosheep product. Both the fleece and the pelt (underside) seemed slightly heavier than the Aerosheep cover, but that could be an accident of their being natural, not man-made products. Also and as mentioned earlier, both covers used straps sewn to the underside and terminating in heavy-duty hooks. This differs from the Aerosheep product, which uses the cam-style clamps. Were not sure which would be easier to install, but were positive removing the seats first will lower your overall frustration level .


We liked each of these covers. As mentioned, they all are we’ll made from high-quality materials and should provide hundreds of hours of service. Theyre each close enough in overall quality that picking one over another comes down to price, color selection and the strap-mounting systems employed. The sewn-on construction of the covers from Aircraft Spruce and Sportys strikes us as the better solution for the long haul, but the clamp-style straps from Aerosheep are repositionable and should be much easier to replace if the need arises or if you want to remove them for any reason.

All three vendors offer a range of colors; the covers we evaluated were either natural or ivory in color. Aerosheep and Aircraft Spruce present color swatches on their respective Web sites. For $10, Sportys will sell you a sheepskin sample incorporating the offered colors; the amount is credited against your seat cover order when purchased. Aircraft Spruce will also sell you color samples, priced at either $10 or $50, depending. Aerosheep, through its affiliated Web site at, offers to send up to five color swatches free.

Of the three, Aerosheep is the only vendor selling individual covers-the others offer them in pairs-at $194.50 per cover (plus $37.50 for the separate headrest cover). Aircraft Spruces pricing is for the one-piece pair and is $378.95, the least expensive of the three. Sportys price is $449 for a pair of one-piece covers; separate headrest covers will run you $120 for the pair. All three offer a downloadable form to use in taking your seats measurements.

If we wanted a pair of sheepskin covers, wed be happy with the products from each of these vendors. Since theyre so much alike, both in design, construction and the colors offered, it comes down to price alone. In that case, Aircraft Spruce would get the nod. But if your budget is limited and youre doing only the pilot seat, Aerosheep is hard to beat.