Aircraft Painting and Finishing | Aircraft Systems

Aircraft Painting and Finishing

Paint, or more specifically its overall color and application, is usually the first impression that is transmitted to someone when they look at an aircraft for the first time. Paint makes a statement about the aircraft and the person who owns or operates it. The paint scheme may reflect the owner’s ideas and color preferences for an amateur-built aircraft project, or it may be colors and identification for the recognition of a corporate or air carrier aircraft.


Paint is more than aesthetics; it affects the weight of the aircraft and protects the integrity of the airframe. The topcoat finish is applied to protect the exposed surfaces from corrosion and deterioration. Also, a properly painted aircraft is easier to clean and maintain because the exposed surfaces are more resistant to corrosion and dirt, and oil does not adhere as readily to the surface.


A wide variety of materials and finishes are used to protect and provide the desired appearance of the aircraft. The term “paint” is used in a general sense and includes primers, enamels, lacquers, and the various multipart finishing formulas. Paint has three components: resin as coating material, pigment for color, and solvents to reduce the mix to a workable viscosity.

Internal structure and unexposed components are finished to protect them from corrosion and deterioration. All exposed surfaces and components are finished to provide protection and to present a pleasing appearance. Decorative finishing includes trim striping, the addition of company logos and emblems, and the application of decals, identification numbers, and letters.

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