User avatar
VirginFlyer
Topic Author
Posts: 4102
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2000 12:27 pm

Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sat Jul 08, 2006 6:51 pm

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:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Matthew C. Lyons



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
 
kappel
Posts: 1836
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:48 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:30 pm

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.
L1011,733,734,73G,738,743,744,752,763,772,77W,DC855,DC863,DC930,DC950,MD11,MD88,306,319,320,321,343,346,ARJ85,CR7,E195
 
ehho
Posts: 769
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 3:26 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:35 pm

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
 
Beaucaire
Posts: 3888
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2003 4:48 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sat Jul 08, 2006 8:27 pm

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 avatar
VirginFlyer
Topic Author
Posts: 4102
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2000 12:27 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sat Jul 08, 2006 8:57 pm

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 avatar
JBo
Posts: 1615
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:23 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:10 pm

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.
 
rikkus67
Posts: 1152
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2000 11:34 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 5:02 am

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
 
Beaucaire
Posts: 3888
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2003 4:48 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 5:16 am

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...
 
lredlefsen
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:50 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:29 am

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...
 
roseflyer
Posts: 9606
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:34 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:44 am

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!
 
JAAlbert
Posts: 1567
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:43 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 9:01 am

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 avatar
Stitch
Posts: 23467
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:26 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 9:45 am

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.
 
MCIGuy
Posts: 1445
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 8:15 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 10:17 am

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.
Airliners.net Moderator Team
 
User avatar
DesertFlyer
Posts: 362
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:05 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 10:57 am


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Bob Garrard



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).
 
roseflyer
Posts: 9606
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:34 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:58 am

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.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jörg Tegen



compared to the new polished scheme


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jörg Tegen

If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
bombayhog
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 11:34 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:30 pm

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......
 
bohica
Posts: 2319
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 3:21 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:35 pm

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

Just call it euroblack.  Smile
 
baron95
Posts: 1106
Joined: Thu May 25, 2006 10:19 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:47 pm

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.
Killer Fleet: E190, 737-900ER, 777-300ER
 
Bohlman
Posts: 263
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 11:52 pm

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:49 pm

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.
I'm not pro-Boeing or pro-Airbus, I'm pro-crew all the way.
 
Duff44
Posts: 1561
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:48 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 1:02 pm

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!
 
jbguller
Posts: 104
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 5:27 am

RE: Can Composite Fuselages Be Kept Unpainted?

Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:42 pm

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

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos