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Airlines

Look sharp

Paint continues to play a subtle role in enhancing aircraft cabins. Ian Harbison spoke to two of the leading companies in the field about recent developments
 

 

Julie Voisin, Product Manager Aerospace Coatings at Sherwin-Williams says the company has seen demand from airlines for more subtle colours and soft textures, to be used for more elegant finishes and differentiation between cabin classes.


In response, the company has just launched JetFlex ELITE Polyurethane Enamel, with a new range of 38 specially designed colours. A key ingredient of the new paint is very finely powdered mica. Instead of the sparkle usually associated with mica paints, which comes from semi-transparent flakes catching the light, the translucent particles suspended in the new paint produce a subtle shimmer, or glow. They also react with LED mood lighting, producing a very slight shift on reflection to create a complementary colour. With a low gloss finish, the effect, she says, is one of subtle sophistication and mood enhancement.


The colour tones have come from the company’s most popular interior design and architectural lines and this is reflected in the product names, which include Foggy Forest, Stormy Sea, Steamy Latte, Silvery Moon, Sunset Blush, Coastal Breeze, and Golden Radiance.


Of course, those non-aviation lines do not have to go through the same stringent testing as onboard products, which ELITE passed through having made changes to some of the constituents, meeting FAR/JAR 25.853 regulations for burn, smoke and heat release.


In addition, the range is based on Boeing qualified technology (BMS 10-83N) and so is OEM approved. It also offers good stain and abrasion resistance.


Apart from whites and a few lighter colours, only a single application is required and drying time can be as little as 10-15 minutes to touch, 30-60 minutes to handle and two hours to dry completely. It can also be applied to plastic, metal and composite surfaces. The company is currently in discussion with a number of design houses to explore how the new system can best be deployed, perhaps as an accent or around a handle, as well as complete sidewall panels.


Later this year, the company is launching a soft effect paint called Jet Suede, which can be used in place of leather. The texture is replicated with the use of resins but it will be more hard-wearing than leather and easier to touch up if there is minor damage. This technology derives from the automotive side of the business and, again, will have to meet aviation requirements. However, Voisin mentions as an aside that for automotive paints, it is insect repellent and sun tan lotion that are the problem items likely to stain, while for aircraft, it is coffee, lipstick and, especially, mustard. >>


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