Helicopter Painting presents a unique challenge to an aviation completions company, which is why many completion firms in the industry avoid offering Helicopter Painting as a standalone service, almost reluctantly taking on such projects, whilst concentrating on fixed wing aircraft.
Here at RAS Completions, we are different. Over the last twenty years of operations, Helicopter Painting has grown into and maintained a core position as one of our leading services. During this time, we have painted and protected thousands of helicopters, with outstanding results at our purpose built London hangar.
Helicopter Painting Considerations
To achieve the perfect result, every exterior part, such as doors, belly panels and drive shaft covers need to be removed from the helicopter for preparation. Each item is then individually assessed, treated and painted in a dust free, controlled environment. Typically, this process includes stripping components of their paint and protective coatings down to the base before building the paint and protection layers back up in stages, however each aircrafts requirement can be discussed in full with the customer. This process also serves as an opportunity to inspect each component for premature wear and tear, or damage.
To be able to carry out the above process, our teams are regularly trained by the world’s leading Helicopter manufacturers, getting to know each aircraft intricately. All RAS technicians fully understand how to treat the wide range of materials found on a Helicopter including aluminium, aluminium composites, carbon fibre and Kevlar, ensuring the right manufacturer approved products and techniques are matched to the right material on the aircraft.
The unique requirement which is placed on each Helicopter by an organisation demands livery which makes an aircraft both distinctive and informative. As part of our Helicopter Painting Service, we specialise in designing and applying unique livery and artwork to helicopters serving in a wide range of industries, including military helicopters, emergency services helicopters, air ambulances, commercial helicopters and civilian helicopters.
Regardless of what custom paint job you want, RAS can turn your ideas into concept, then into reality.
Painting a Helicopter VS Fixed Wing Aircraft
A one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work in the completions industry, below we discuss the difference between a helicopter & fixed wing aircraft painting project.
Helicopter Operator Requirements
Helicopters are some of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the planet, and this is reflected in the wide variety of organisations which deploy helicopters in many different roles, including:
• Offshore Industry
• Emergency Services
To perform in these unique environments, helicopters are fitted with specialist equipment to their exteriors, which can include cameras, spotlights, weapons systems and load carrying accessories. During painting, all this equipment has to be meticulously removed, treated with specialist materials and then re-fitted. In comparison, fixed wing aircraft usually have very few removable parts which require specialist care and treatment.
The ‘skin’ of a helicopter is placed in an incredibly hostile environment whilst operational. During each flight, rotor blade wash pushes exhaust heat directly onto the aircraft, whilst the rotors whip up all manner of punishing grit, earth and water onto the aircraft, meanwhile the turbine is dumping soot and hot burnt oil onto the aircraft tail.
Considering the amount of soot and dirt which can become ingrained on the aircraft, the exterior of a helicopter must be cleaned after each flight, if the right paint and protection is not applied to a helicopter, harsh cleaning chemicals used can prematurely strip the coating and paint off the aircraft. At RAS we only use paint and coatings which have been recommended by helicopter manufacturers and are proven to perform and protect in all environments, allowing your helicopter to be kept in showroom condition.
Unlike a fixed wing aircraft, where a passenger usually only sees the paintwork immediately around the area in which they enter the aircraft, the size of a helicopter means that passengers can see the entire aircraft. To create the right first impression and to build confidence, it is vital that your helicopter paintwork is kept in pristine condition.
RAS Completions is an established ISO 9001:2015 helicopter painting and refinishing specialist, boasting over twenty years in helicopter painting and refurbishment.
All paint projects are managed by Chris Ransley, a founding partner of RAS Completions, recognised as an expert in the field of helicopter painting and refurbishment, Chris has worked at a number of companies including MetAir, Hunting Aviation and Trace Worldwide, having started his career as an apprentice.
Get in touch with a member of the team to learn more.
The industry rule is that aircraft exterior painting must not only look great but must stand the test of time. Those that own, operate or paint aircraft know this is not an easy or cheap process. Painting aircraft is a labour-intensive, multi- step process that requires a steady hand and intense attention to detail. Generally, the paint process includes these steps regardless of aircraft size:
The aircraft is washed and moved into one of our environmentally secure paint bays to create a stable and clean environment. At-risk components and flight controls are covered or removed and a nonacidic, environmentally friendly chemical stripper is applied. The aircraft is inspected, flaws are removed, corrosion is treated, and necessary repairs made. Next the aircraft is washed with an alkaline soap and all aluminum surfaces are etched and treated with alodine.
An epoxy chromate primer is applied then an epoxy surfacer. Next a polyurethane basecoat is applied and the paint scheme (a design we can create with you or emulate if the design is brought to us) is laid out. The exciting step comes next, applying the colour. Whether it be a simple bright white to a complicated rainbow of colours and designs, all repaints are topped with a clear coat.
Following this complicated process of applying the primers, protectants and paint our team meticulously looks over the aircraft to ensure Touch ups are made and the aircraft is buffed out. After these final steps are taken the aircraft is ready for weighing and after a period of drying and inspections the aircraft is ready for takeoff.
Over the years painting materials have certainly improved. It also appears that air carriers are contracting out their aircraft painting to MROs that specialise in painting and have facilities that can accommodate both narrow and wide-body aircraft.
OUR EXPERIENCE - YOUR ADVANTAGE
RAS is an established and respected aircraft interior, exterior, and completions company located at London Biggin Hill Airport, just 19 miles away from the city centre. With over 40 years of joint experience in the industry, we have established a reputation for professionalism and excellence.
Our company offers interior and exterior aircraft solution specialising in; repairing, painting refurbishing, as well as creating new interior and exterior paint schemes for both VIP and Commercial aircraft.
RAS creates successful and impressive products through our exacting attention to detail, an empathetic understanding of our clients’ ambitions, and a precise awareness of timescale and budget. We work with a large range of clients including both large global airlines and private aircraft owners. No matter the size of your project, RAS has the experience and expertise to satisfy your needs.
“FANTASTIC SERVICE AND EXPERTISE – RAS OUR TRUSTED PARTNERS FOR ALL OUR VIP REFURBISHMENTS. WITH FANTASTIC EXPERTISE HIGH EYE FOR DETAIL WE WOULD NOT GO ANYWHERE ELSE”