Airplanes are traditionally painted with two coats of the same pigmented topcoat. With PPG’s basecoat/clearcoat system, the first coating applied has a higher amount of pigment than in one topcoat of a conventional two-coat system. The system’s second coat is clear, providing gloss, smoothness and better durability.
According to Alan Schoeder, PPG Aerospace commercial coatings global segment manager, the weight savings with the PPG basecoat/clearcoat system would be approximately 100 pounds for a small commercial airplane and close to 200 pounds for a large airplane.
“With the PPG basecoat/clearcoat system for painting aircraft, we expect a 15-35% weight reduction compared with the traditional two-coat system at the same cured paint thickness,” Schoeder said. Darker colors would be about 35%, while lighter colors would be about 15%, he said.
“If each pound taken off a plane represents $1,000 a year in fuel savings, an airline could save $100,000 for a small aircraft and up to $200,000 for a large airplane. Translate that across a fleet, and the potential exists to save millions of dollars with PPG’s basecoat/clearcoat system in fuel costs alone,” he said.
The PPG basecoat/clearcoat system also reduces process time, removing one full day from the painting cycle, Schoeder said. The color coat dry time is about two hours, instead of five to seven for traditional systems, because drying slowly is not required for a glossy, smooth finish when using a clearcoat. Also, only about a half-hour dry time is needed after logo colors and placards are painted over the basecoat before the clearcoat is applied, compared with about two hours for a traditional paint system.
Using a clearcoat improves gloss and color retention as well as cleanability, Schoeder said.“Therefore, airlines can expect the life of a paint job to increase using the new PPG system.”
Also, with increased paint durability and shorter repainting process time, a plane won’t need to be repainted as often or to be grounded as long for maintenance. An airline that loses $50,000 to $150,000 in revenue every day an airplane sits for repainting will therefore reduce those maintenance-related losses, Schoeder said.
Customer trials of PPG’s new system are under way, with qualification to OEM specification expected this year.