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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 1999 10:08 pm

Metal Airbuses

Sun Mar 12, 2000 12:46 am

Remember when AA introduced the A300s? Due to some non-corossive material Airbus used the planes couldn't be left bare medal, so they were painted gray. Now I think those planes are in the bare metal scheme.

So, can Airbus planes be bare metal colored? (esp. the narrowbody Airbuses)

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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 1999 3:15 am

RE: Metal Airbuses

Tue Mar 14, 2000 3:41 am

The bare-metal look uses a thin coating of highly-polished aluminium called alcaclad. Back in the early '70s, when Eastern introduced the Airbus A300 into service, Eastern's aircraft featured a bare metal scheme. However, since Airbus did not use alcaclad on its aircraft, Eastern's A300s were painted light grey instead. American Airlines uses the A300-600, and it also featured this light grey paint instead of alcaclad. However, I believe later versions could be ordered with the bare-metal look as Airbus developed their own process for it. I have never seen any other Airbus aircraft in a bare metal scheme, however.
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RE: Metal Airbuses

Tue Mar 14, 2000 1:39 pm

When AA began leasing its A300s from Airbus, Airbus did not and would not offer matched polished aluminum skin panels. The fuselage panels were all different colors, textures and grain alignments. AA still took the aircraft with gray painted fuselage.

A number of years ago AA was in the process of deciding what aircraft to retire; A300 or DC10. The decision was supposedly pretty close as the A300 had lower direct operating costs (2 vs 3 crew & engines) but higher engine overhaul costs (inefficient wing caused high engine temps for longer periods of time).

Shortly after the decision to retire the DC10 was announced (less than 10 days later I think) AA announced that Airbus was providing matched, polished aluminum fuselage skin panels to AA for its entire A300 fleet. Panels to be replaced during scheduled major maintenance and at Airbus' expense.

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
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Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2000 7:58 am

RE: Metal Airbuses

Tue Mar 14, 2000 9:14 pm

Back when I worked on A300's I asked a similar question. My lead engineer told me that Airbus would not warranty the aircraft without paint. It was my understanding that the skins were alclad but they had a different corporate position on corrosion protection. I never saw one unpainted, so don't know whether the panels matched or not.

The USAF has a different approach than the airlines in that the USAF also paints the entire aircraft minus some leading edges, similar to Airbus. That is just the philosophy of the Corrosion Office. Of couse, some aircraft are painted for camouflage reasons.

This should help muddy the water. Any Airbus engineers out there?


RE: Metal Airbuses

Tue Mar 14, 2000 9:51 pm

Ever think of the Trans Canada Airlines (Air Canada) A319? Is that in bare metal or is it painted gray as well like the American A300-600s?

Jack M
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Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 8:12 am

RE: Metal Airbuses

Wed Mar 15, 2000 12:47 pm

I helped convert the DAL A310s into Air Jamaica service, and at that time we had a hellatious time with the paint. The deal was DAL was returning the aircraft to Airbus, who was selling (leasing?) them to Air Jamaica, who had hired DAL to perform the maintenance prior to acceptance.

ANYWAY, the Airbus rep was constantly giging the paint job, not only for runs (new, environmentally friendly type from a company which DAL had never used before), but also because it was leaving fish-eyes and other defects. When I asked him about why it was so critical, he told me that Airbus didn't think that Alclad was as good as a 'properly done' paint job, and that if the paint 'system' failed, severe corrosion would practically be assured.

If you have spent any time around the outside of an aircraft, you know that they get banged and scratched far worse than a car parked at the bottom of a hill in a supermarket parking lot. There is no feasable way to protect the paint 'system', outside of keeping a touch-up can and brush at each gate and checking for paint damage as soon as the aircraft arrives!

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Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2000 7:58 am

RE: Metal Airbuses

Wed Mar 15, 2000 8:56 pm

Jim, were the skins Alclad under that paint?

Interesting to hear them say the aircraft would corrode so severely without paint. I wonder how American gets by with their old 727s? Aren't they around 25 years old? Not to mention the bellies of a large number of airlines which are bare metal.

You're right about the new "environmentally friendly" paints. They are difficult to apply and get good adherence and finish, and they don't protect as well against corrosion.

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