Aerospace coatings

aerospace coatings

Aerospace coatings and paint technology

Aerospace coatings (sometimes referred to as aircraft paint or aviation coating) includes coatings for commercial and business aviation as well as for military air market, satellites and launch vehicles. Therefore, airplanes, helicopters, jets and other aircrafts flying above London are also aerospace coated. The aerospace coatings market covers OEM (original equipment manufacturers) and MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) branches.

UK aerospace sector in combination with coating

The UK aerospace sector is a successful, vibrant, high value, high technology engineering, manufacturing and service industry. With over £20 billion per year in value added revenue and employing over 100,000 directly, and over 220,000 indirectly, the industry is one of the UK’s largest exporters adding around £2.8 billion annually to the UK balance of trade and involves around 2600 companies across all regions of the UK.

The aerospace coatings market is very broad. Therefore this article focuses on coatings applied on commercial, business and private airplanes.

Paint required for aerospace

Many different types of coatings are applied on airplanes due to the fact that planes are complex compositions which must endure extreme operating environments. In an airplane there are coatings on the inside and on the outside. The interior coatings must be resistant to corrosion for a long time due to limited access and complexity of reapplication. An interior coating is often good for 20 years. The exterior, for its part, must be repainted more often.


Aerospace coating supports the safety of the flight and decreases the chance of malfunctions

Like most of the coatings, aerospace exterior coatings also have decorative and protective purposes. For example airline companies often express their logos and slogans on the airplanes. For instance, British Airways has a blue and red logo. Additionally, the coatings can positively affect the performance. The following are some advantages of aerospace coatings:

  • Protect from climate extremes and contamination;
  • Prevent corrosion, fading and aging of the paint;
  • Resisting dirt and other contamination;
  • Improve laminar flow and reduce drag leading to lower fuel consumption;
  • Protect the surface from chemicals such as anti-ice and hydraulic fluids.

It’s expensive to coat a plane, but it’s worth it!

The costs of the complete process lay between £100.000 and £200.000. The costs may increase depending on the origin and destination of the coating. Aviation coatings additionally, have a high VOC content. Therefore, hazardous goods delivery fees add into the total costs.

Aerospace coatings and paint technology

Aircraft paints and coatings are constantly further developed to increase the quality and improve the properties. The aerospace coatings market is concerned with economic and environmental sustainability. Therefore, aerospace coatings and paint technology is constantly improving. Nano coatings for dirt resistance and drag resistant coatings are constantly developed and tested. It is also important that the coatings retain shiny colours for long time.

Aerospace specialist coatings

Many vital areas of the aircraft have special technical requirements that call for smaller amounts of materials with highly specialised properties. Therefore, a lot of manufacturers of aerospace coatings put considerable research and development into these materials to ensure that the whole aircraft is protected. These include:

  • Coatings for radomes and antennae;
  • Anti abrasion coatings for moving parts;
  • And anti erosion coatings for leading edges;
  • Anti glare coatings;
  • Low solar absorption coatings;
  • High temperature resistant coatings;
  • UV resistant clear coats.

Innovation: PPG solar heat management coating

aerospace coatings ppg

The solar control aerospace coating of PPG is one of the latest innovated aerospace coatings

The latest innovations in the aerospace coatings market include PPG’s solar control coating which is inspired by the dark surface of eggplant. Airline companies often avoid dark colours due to their high solar heat absorption which has a direct link to the cabin temperature. However, the new solar control coating works at its best with a dark colour.

An eggplant is dark purple but it does not absorb heat; it transmits the heat to the almost white interior flesh. The light coloured flesh reflects the heat out through the skin and prevents the inside from “over heating”. The solar control coating practically works the same way; it is based on  unique pigment dispersions which increase near-infrared energy or heat transmittance through a dark colour and increase the subsequent reflection from a white layer under the dark one.

This is why airplanes are usually white

Aviation coatings are available in a range of colours. Did you know that airplanes are actually green when they come out of the production line? However, most airplanes end up painted white. Did you ever wonder why?

Because of these 3 reasons:

  1. White is the cheapest and lightest (weight) colour;
  2. White preserves the least heat, dark colours are avoided due to the fact that absorb heat and rise the temperature in the cabin;
  3. Blank white surface makes it possible to easily decorate the surface for marketing purposes.

Aerospace coatings market and manufacturers in the UK

There are only a handful of companies providing aerospace coatings in the world. For example the world’s leading coating manufacturers Akzo Nobel, PPG and Sherwin Williams. Therefore, most of the aerospace coatings must be ordered from overseas. We are happy to bring you in contact with manufacturers at home and abroad.



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