Robins Air Force Base in Georgia has the job of overhauling and maintaining cargo aircraft. The first step in that process is the paint/depaint facility. It is also the last stop.
That’s because the Air Force knows what every facility manager must also know: that a proper paint job is much more than just a cosmetic makeover. It is the key to fighting corrosion and helping keep aircraft functional. It is especially important on older aircraft such as C-130s.
Every plane that comes in for overhaul is first depainted. Then it moves on for the mechanical refurbishments. Finally, after several months, the plane makes a final stop in the paint/depaint facility to be painted by the Air Force unit known as the Corrosion Flight.
It takes 14 painters about eight hours to paint a C-5 (one of the largest cargo planes in the Air Force). In a finely tuned and systematic process, almost like a ballet, the painters start in various places on the plane and they all move to one spot as they finish. After final testing of the newly coated surfaces, the aircraft is returned to service.
So what can we learn from the Air Force?
First, that maintaining your facility’s coatings is much more valuable than simply making sure everything looks attractive. Proper coating maintenance, done on regular intervals, can help keep your facility in service longer and help prevent the need for substantial renovations caused by early failure due to corrosion or decay.
Another lesson is that it takes skilled and trained professionals to do the job of coating, especially in specialized applications such as tank painting, steel structures and marine applications. The professionals make it look easy – but it’s not.
Finally, the Air Force process reminds managers of the need to intentionally and thoroughly inspect and maintain their facility’s coatings.
Is it time for you to “bring your facility in” for coatings maintenance?