Making Virtual a Reality!

March 26, 2021

Virtual meetings are now commonplace; keeping in touch with colleagues and customers via various online platforms is now a part of our daily routine. But the AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings team took virtual partnerships to a whole new level recently, when time was of the essence to get a stylish business jet painted and back in the air.

When a customer orders a new livery in General Aviation it is essential to keep the airplane on the ground (AOG) for as little time as possible and that the finished product be so perfect that you can see your reflection in the paint. That’s a big enough challenge in ordinary circumstances; throw in a pandemic preventing expert support from being physically present to assist with a new paint shoot, and an unexpected heatwave, and a little more creativity and thinking is required.

The story starts when the Corrigan Air Center in Texas was contracted to paint an Embraer Phenom 300 with a new corporate livery. Since AkzoNobel is the specified coatings manufacturer for the Phenom, Corrigan approached GracoRoberts, an approved AkzoNobel distributor which also has its own color laboratory and exclusive authorization to develop, color, and repackage AkzoNobel’s coatings.

Dan Johnson, GracoRoberts’ Field Paint Specialist, called in the specialist support of his Intermix Color Lab technicians as well as the expert advice of AkzoNobel’s Jill Kokkinen and Adam Draves, the latter from AkzoNobel’s Technical Services team. Between them they reviewed the task in hand and selected a combination of anti-corrosion and surface primers together with AkzoNobel’s Alumigrip 4400 base coat and 4450 clear coat system to create the colorful livery.

The combined team made arrangements to be on site at Corrigan Air Center to provide hands-on support to the paint technicians. Jill Kokkinen says that with all new customers, the team wants to ensure the best possible outcome: “Prior to any paint touching the aircraft we review the spray gun set up, mixing procedures, spray patterns and overcoat windows,” she explains.

“Most importantly, we ensure we are on site to assist with any questions or concerns as they arise.”

Three days before the shoot was due to take place, however, Covid-19 struck. One of the paint technicians tested positive and the facility had to severely restrict the number of staff and visitors allowed on site. With the job still urgently required, the GracoRoberts and AkzoNobel team opted for the next best thing: if they couldn’t be there in person, they would take the Corrigan team through a virtual demonstration!

The Corrigan team started painting with Adam on speed dial to troubleshoot any issues that arose, but the biggest challenge had nothing to do with painting technique. It was to do with the weather.

In anticipation of a heatwave, and a temperature in the hangar in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, GracoRoberts supplied three different multiple paint activators for both the 4400 base coat and the 4450 clear coat to counteract the difficulties of spraying paint at such high temperatures.

The activators were mixed specifically to address the temperature at the exact time the paint was being applied. Crucially, it also prevented the drying times between coats being adversely affected.

Jill Kokkinen says the finished result is little short of spectacular: “With its striking colors and gloss-like finish, the Phenom looks amazing and the client is very happy. It’s a result that shows the true value of partnership and that regardless of how big the challenge, there is little that cannot be overcome through teamwork and imagination.”

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