Maintaining your aircraft paint job will keep your plane looking great and protected from the elements, especially if you store it outside. A good maintenance schedule of ongoing washing, waxing and polishing, among other tasks, ensures that your aircraft will stay in tip-top condition. With a little work, you can keep your bird sparkling all year long.
Let’s take a look at five things you can do to protect your airplane’s paint job. Here we go!
1) Washing Your Aircraft Exterior
Too many pilots forego a regular washing schedule, however, it’s one of the most important things you can do to protect your airplane’s paint job. A simple wash helps protect against corrosion by removing contaminants while giving you the chance to inspect the exterior surface closely to identify any damage or corrosion to the paint job. Use a mild alkaline detergent, a specifically formulated chemical blend consisting of alkaline salts, wetting agents and sequestrant (chelating) agents. These constituents loosen contaminants on the paint’s surface so they can be easily rinsed away. Both painted and polished surfaces can be adequately protected from corrosion with regular washing, just remember to buff polished surfaces after washing.
2) Identifying Chips and Cracks in Your Aircraft Paint
A solid paint job will protect your airplane from harmful things like salt, oxidation, hail, even jet fuel spills. However, if the exterior is showing signs of chipping and cracking, your plane is much more susceptible to corrosion. This is caused by moisture and dirt working its way into the exposed area and affecting the aluminum underneath. If the problem gets really bad, pilots may even see filiform corrosion or worm corrosion, which begins between metallic surfaces and paint, while it erodes both. It creates hydrogen and lifts up the paint layer as it travels across the surface.
3) Refinishing Your Aircraft Paint
For those airplane owners looking to remove oxidation and stains from the uppermost layer of paint, refinishing is the process you’ll do it through. Of course, refinishing is a naturally destructive process, as it will remove the protective coating of the area you’re refinishing, which will need to be reapplied after you’re done. Because of this, it’s important that you carefully consider this process, and only remove as much material as necessary. There are several refinishing products available, in a variety of strengths, so start with the least powerful and move up the ladder until you find something that suits your needs. Repainting your plane is a technical process that will require a specialist, so look up those people in your area online to find someone who can help, or ask for recommendations at the local hangar.
4) Waxing and Polishing Your Aircraft Paint
After you’ve washed, spotted faulty areas, refinished necessary spots and repainted, you can move on to waxing and polishing your aircraft. It’s important that you use an airplane-designated product, and avoid using automotive polishes, which aren’t strong enough to provide adequate protection to your plane’s exterior. Use aircraft wax or sealant – both will protect your paint job, however, waxes tend to absorb dirt, discolor over time and don’t last as long, requiring re-application throughout the year, unlike sealant. As aircraft polishes and protectants have evolved, most manufacturers have moved away from waxes and toward advanced polymers and acrylic resins.
5) Protecting Your Aircraft Paint
After all is said and done, you want to make sure your hard work stays protected as long as possible. With a ceramic coating, it’s possible to keep your airplane’s paint job free from damage all year long. A product like Ceramic Pro, a clear, layerable, liquid nano-ceramic coating, will form into a permanent, durable shield, which keeps the plane’s surface in good condition. Not only will your plane stay protected, ceramic coatings provide better visibility and additional safety during poor weather conditions thanks to its hydrophobic properties. Plus, since Ceramic Pro coatings are non-organic and cannot be dissolved by acids, bases, and solvents, it permanently remains on the aircraft and keeps a brand-new appearance for years.
Keep your Plane Looking Pretty and Protected
How often you take steps to maintain your airplane’s paint job is ultimately up to you. However, if the exterior is regularly maintained, the aircraft isn’t flown frequently or through adverse weather and it’s properly stored, it’s much more likely to last longer.
Premier Ceramic Pro Services in Minneapolis/St. Paul
We offer Ceramic Pro services in the Twin Cities through our partner, Citadel Aircraft Maintenance, located at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. Contact our team to learn more about our comprehensive airplane cleaning services that will keep your craft clean and protect it from the elements.
Contact us today or call (952) 698-3000 to speak with one of our service professionals.
Duncan Aviation provides complete, custom paint refurbishment and completion services. Our refined paint process prolongs the lifetime of these finishes, protecting an aircraft from the elements for years. Modern paint booths produce a very high quality product, and are environmentally conscious. We offer a three year/1,500 hour warranty on exterior paint finishes.