Airbus, the world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, offers a new two coat aircraft painting process that uses less paint, requires less time to apply and helps to reduce aircraft cleaning.
The first customer aircraft painted in this new, state-of-the-art way is the 5000th Airbus aircraft ever produced, an A330-200, which was delivered today to Qantas at a special delivery ceremony in Toulouse. Qantas, has on order a further six aircraft to be painted in the same way, and will help conduct an in-service evaluation with Airbus to fully quantify the benefits of the painting process.
The new painting technique is offered as an option and is one of Airbus’s key objectives to produce aircraft that are friendlier to the environment and more eco-efficient. The European plane-manufacturer optimizes all aspects of a product’s full life cycle, encompassing aircraft design, manufacturing, operations and finally its recycling. This approach was recognized in June 2007 with the granting of the prestigious ISO14001 environmental management standard. It counts for all Airbus sites and products. Airbus is the only aerospace manufacturing company worldwide, holding this certification.
Standard painting techniques can take up to six coats per aircraft and usually can take up to 12 hours of drying between coats. The new Airbus technique – which is similar to those used in the car industry – requires just two coats with dramatically reduced paint volumes, and drying times down from 12 to two hours.
A colour coat and a clear coat or varnish are applied onto a chromate free primer. The technique brings environmental benefits because it uses less solvent based paint and uses fewer coats. The process also reduces the amount of repainting and cleaning required during the life time of the in-service aircraft.
The paint uses higher pigment content allowing for single coat usage which in turn means that the amount of paint needed is reduced by 20 per cent with an associated reduction of 10 to 15 per cent in solvents.