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Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?  
User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4537 posts, RR: 41
Posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4544 times:

As we all know, it is possible to keep aluminium unpainted and polished, which results in less weight (thus allowing lower fuel burn, or more payload uplift), but requires more regular polishing and maintenance. Aside from this, it does have aesthetic qualities:


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Could the same thing be done with composite fuselages, or would there a requirement for it to be painted to keep it sealed? If it could be left unpainted, would it need more regular maintenance and polishing than a painted composite surface?

I'm not really certain how good a black plane would look, but if it can save weight without impacting on maintenance, then might we see unpainted 787s...

V/F


"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKappel From Suriname, joined Jul 2005, 3533 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4516 times:

Agreed, we may see some black 787's with some decals on it. I believe the fuselage is corrosion resistant, so I guess it would be possible.


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User currently offlineEHHO From Bulgaria, joined Dec 2005, 815 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4509 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Thread starter):
I'm not really certain how good a black plane would look

Could be pretty cool actually... especially for LCCs, with some big white letters.



"Get your facts first. Then you may distort them as much as you please" -- Mark Twain
User currently offlineBeaucaire From Syria, joined Sep 2003, 5252 posts, RR: 25
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4446 times:

Although the article does not cover Carbon-fiber fuselages,it gives a good idea on the weights associated to paint-jobs.
It is my understanding that Carbon-fiber fuselage needs protective coverage,since small cracks or scratches would allow water to infiltrate the multi-layered structures and create difficult to locate micro-disbonding.

http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aer...zine/aero_05/textonly/fo01txt.html



Please respect animals - don't eat them...
User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4537 posts, RR: 41
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4403 times:

Thanks for that very interesting and informative article Beaucaire. I think it even answers my original question:

Quote:
Protective paint is used in certain areas to prevent corrosion, and it is used on all composites to prevent erosion and moisture ingress.

I guess that puts paid to the idea of a 'bare-composite' fuselage. Then again, I have seen the weave visible in some sporting items (rowing skiffs, yachts etc), presumably with some sort of clear lacquer over it, but I imagine there wouldn't be a huge weight saving over painting it instead, and of course I have no idea if that is the same sort of material as what is being used on the 787...

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineJBo From Sweden, joined Jan 2005, 2312 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4374 times:

Of course, given that unpainted composite is usually black, I'd say that seeing then unpainted would be pretty rare since black absorbs heat.


I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
User currently offlineRikkus67 From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 1622 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4245 times:

let's hope that Beoing can find a "bare-metal" aluminum decal that is lightweight and long lasting....


AC.WA.CP.DL.RW.CO.WG.WJ.WN.KI.FL.SK.ACL.UA.US.F9
User currently offlineBeaucaire From Syria, joined Sep 2003, 5252 posts, RR: 25
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4229 times:

Quoting Rikkus67 (Reply 6):
let's hope that Beoing can find a "bare-metal" aluminum decal that is lightweight and long lasting....

This would highly simplify lightning protection....



Please respect animals - don't eat them...
User currently offlineLredlefsen From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 151 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 4137 times:

Quoting Kappel (Reply 1):
we may see some black 787's



Quoting EHHO (Reply 2):
Could be pretty cool actually

Sounds like it would be really hot, actually...


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9488 posts, RR: 52
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 4109 times:

Quoting Rikkus67 (Reply 6):
let's hope that Beoing can find a "bare-metal" aluminum decal that is lightweight and long lasting....

What? Are you referring to chrome plating?

You may notice that tails never have the polished aluminum look since they are often made of composite structures that must be painted since they can't be polished.

Quoting VirginFlyer (Thread starter):
If it could be left unpainted, would it need more regular maintenance and polishing than a painted composite surface?

You can't really polish a composite in the same way that you can polish aluminum. The composite is going to look like whatever the matrix material is, and in the case of the 787 it is not aluminum (it is aluminum in the A380 and thus it could remain unpainted).



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineJAAlbert From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1548 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4080 times:

So assuming AA buys the 787, what will this do to the famous AA livery (red/white/blue stripe over polished aluminum)? Will AA choose some sort of metalic gray/graphite paint as the base, will it rap the plane in applied chrome leaf (if such a thing exists) or will one of the longest running liveries in the airline world be forced to change? And what would it change into??

I know AA's more modern aircraft have many more portions painted gray, which really doesn't look all that great. I hope they don't just paint the fuselage gray!


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30532 posts, RR: 84
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3949 times:
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Hopefully AA will buy the chrome paint McLaren uses on their Formula One cars and not the "ghost grey" they use now on non-aluminum structures.

User currently offlineMCIGuy From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1936 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3776 times:

I brought this up myself a while back and got crickets (AA and the 787).
It's my understanding that composite has to be painted, so it's hard to tell what airlines like AA would do. I guess they'd either have to paint and get close, or change their livery altogether.
BTW, bare composite doesn't look all that good anyway. I have a CFRP kayak paddle and the epoxy is very clear, so you can readily see the layup (tape) inside.



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User currently offlineDesertFlyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 515 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3551 times:


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I think black looks pretty cool. In this case, maybe even sexy.  Wink

Maybe AA would launch a new livery if they ever purchased the 787? Otherwise, it'd be a very grey looking plane (think A300s at one point).


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9488 posts, RR: 52
Reply 14, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3301 times:

Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 10):
So assuming AA buys the 787, what will this do to the famous AA livery (red/white/blue stripe over polished aluminum)?

It would probably look like the A300s when they first flew for AA. They were painted a grayish white.


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compared to the new polished scheme


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If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineBombayhog From United States of America, joined May 2001, 557 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3156 times:

If AA were to get the 787 I reckon they should go for the silvery paint that VS and NW use. I seem to remember reading a while back that the paint has mica in it to get that metallic look. In any case, that might be a nice compromise, though it would of course take away the advantage they now currently have in terms of weight with the polished aluminum. Could it possibly be that they'd be less willing to get the 787 (assuming they get to a point where they can afford it) simply due to this issue of not being able to fly them 'bare'? It's an interesting question......

User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2668 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3147 times:

Quoting Kappel (Reply 1):
we may see some black 787's with some decals on it.

Just call it euroblack.  Smile


User currently offlineBaron95 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 1335 posts, RR: 9
Reply 17, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3076 times:

I don't know about carbon fiber fuselages, but I can tell you that it is a CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENT that some composite planes like Cirrus SR20/22, Columbia 300/350/400 and Diamond DA20/40/42 be painted WHITE, with only minor decals and stripping allowed.

The issue has to do with the skin temperature reached if it is not white which can delaminate, warp or affect structural integrity. I think there is an issue with UV and airframe life, but I'm not sure of it.



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User currently offlineBohlman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3066 times:

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 9):
You may notice that tails never have the polished aluminum look since they are often made of composite structures that must be painted since they can't be polished.

And nose and tail cones.


User currently offlineDuff44 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 1723 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3014 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 11):
Hopefully AA will buy the chrome paint McLaren uses on their Formula One cars and not the "ghost grey" they use now on non-aluminum structures.

That "chrome" might be a thin adhesive sheet, too. I know (from personal experience at Lime Rock) that Penske uses yellow adhesive sheet on the Porsche RS Spyders, because if you look up close you can actually see the overlapping seams in the sheet. Also, they had about 5 rolls of the stuff lying in their pit.

Lots of race cars with fancy graphics do this now for base colors as well.

I'm sure you could coat a carbon fiber/composite plane with large amounts of this stuff, and get the desired result without the weight of paint.



I'll rassle ya for a bowl of bacon!
User currently offlineJbguller From Australia, joined Jun 2005, 164 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (8 years 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 2196 times:

Quoting Rikkus67 (Reply 6):
let's hope that Beoing can find a "bare-metal" aluminum decal that is lightweight and long lasting....

We may see airlines covering their planes with al-foil instead of painting them?

Hell, if you wrapped a plane in al-foil maybe it would keep for a few years longer?  Silly


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