DLX737200
Topic Author
Posts: 1659
Joined: Tue May 29, 2001 6:42 am

How are airlines painted so accurately?

Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:55 am

Something I've always wondered about:

How are airline liveries applied so accurately despite multiple companies or vendors doing the work? How do they know exactly where to place tape or whatever devices they use to section off colors or patterns? I just find it amazing how precise aircraft painting can be with complex logos and graphics. Anyone want to share any insight?
 
tigerair737
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:55 am

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:00 am

Semi related - but I'm pretty sure China Airlines has company employees go to Airbus, Boeing and hand paints the flower on the tail. That's why some are slightly darker than others etc.
 
chidino
Posts: 184
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:36 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:05 am

Small note: you might want to change your topic. Airlines are not painted, their aircraft are.
 
Wacker1000
Posts: 188
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:36 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:58 am

The simple answer is - they aren't. Being off by 1-2" typically doesn't matter and if it will you probably have a good frame of reference to go by.

Start swapping around radomes and you'll see just how off they can be.
 
unimproved
Posts: 127
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:14 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:37 pm

Size. Being a few inches off isn't noticeable from far away. They're all based on the same technical drawings, yet if we swap a radome a painter will be included by default.
 
LH707330
Posts: 2248
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:27 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:22 pm

Several airlines have stencils for patterns that they either spec out or send to the OEMs when the planes get painted. Some schemes are difficult to mess up, like a cheatline over the window belt, and ones that are easier to get in a non-standard way, like the LH or QF tail where the solid color follows the side of the plane down, are difficult to spot because there's so little to reference it to. It's not like you can pick up two 747s and hold them tail to tail to see that one is an inch off from the other. Some schemes with stripes on the engine cowlings or radomes will show a bit of variance when they have a spare part installed, there's sometimes a distinct step in the otherwise straight line.
 
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hongkongflyer
Posts: 724
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:23 am

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:02 am

tigerair737 wrote:
Semi related - but I'm pretty sure China Airlines has company employees go to Airbus, Boeing and hand paints the flower on the tail. That's why some are slightly darker than others etc.


Used to be, but they simplified it when they were prepared to join Skyteam. Those flowers no longer hand painted.
 
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452QX
Posts: 140
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:30 am

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:02 am

They try their best, but ultimately it’s hard to get each one exactly like the rest. I can think of a multitude of different QX aircraft with slightly differing paint jobs, but they’re mostly just things you’ll only see closer up. From a distance it’s hard to spot minor differences
 
aeropix
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 2:08 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:50 pm

I think most airlines avoid stripes on the radome just for this reason, a small variation looks terrible if it needs to be swapped.
 
Chemist
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:46 am

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:48 am

I would think the AA tail livery would be quite complex to mask and paint.
 
AntonioMartin
Posts: 565
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:58 am

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Sat Nov 30, 2019 11:35 am

Ok when I was little and Im not sure how right or true this is but, I was told that planes, trucks and vans had some sort of Presto-Magix like stickers put on them???
 
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Starlionblue
Posts: 19496
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Sat Nov 30, 2019 11:26 pm

AntonioMartin wrote:
Ok when I was little and Im not sure how right or true this is but, I was told that planes, trucks and vans had some sort of Presto-Magix like stickers put on them???


Stickers do exist. AFAIK they are mostly used for temporary applications because they wear out faster than paint.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Elshad
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 8:24 am

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:52 am

BA is particularly guilty of having mismatched radomes. I would say maybe a third of their A320s have this problem.
 
mikeinatlanta
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:34 pm

Re: How are airlines painted so accurately?

Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:00 pm

On large aircraft, only being off the drawings by a few inches would be quite difficult but of course everyone tries to get it perfect. Unless a very simple livery with really clear reference points, being off by a foot is very common. Most paint shops don't have structures guys with a great deal of expertise interpreting drawings and correctly identifying fuselage stations, stringer locations, and water line locations.
Aircraft Maintenance Professional since 1979.

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