Aircraft De-painting: Variety of products available to remove paint from your aircraft

Variety of products available to remove paint form your aircraft By Joe Escobar It's a fact of aviation life. At some point in time, an aircraft is going to require a new paint job. Part of the process involved with a new paint job is removal...

Paint stripper on aircraft Chemical paint stripper dwelling on aircraft

There are a variety of abrasive strippers available on the market today. These offer the benefit of removing the chemical component from the de-painting process. In addition, some of them can be safely used on composite structures. One factor that needs to be kept in mind when working with abrasive strippers is migration of the media. All open areas of the aircraft should be masked to prevent the media from getting into areas of the aircraft that would be detrimental.

There are varying types of media available to remove paint. A number of manufacturers offer plastic media. ArmaKleen offers a sodium bicarbonate product for abrasive blasting. Wheat starch has even been developed for use by ADM/Ogilvie and is marketed as EnviroStrip.

Laser paint removal

A new technology in the area of paint removal is the use of lasers. General Lasertronics Corporation has developed a laser application for surface cleaning and de-painting. The system has a self-contained waste capture and disposal system and can be manually or robotically operated. The company has developed a portable unit by delivering the laser beam to the work surface through fiber optic cables with an attached workhead. The workhead can be as much as 150 feet from the laser source.

In a laser-based paint removal system, a pulsed laser beam is directed onto the surface at a calculated energy level. It breaks down the paint and primer coatings and produces a minimal waste stream.


Ultimately, there are many factors to be considered when selecting a paint stripping method. Although the costs for materials and equipment may be easy to determine, other factors come into play such as production rates, flow times, labor rates, facility requirements, and waste disposal.

In the end, the each stripper needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. What might work well for one facility may not work well for another. All factors such as cost, ease of use, exposure danger, and disposal methods need to be factored when choosing a paint stripping product.

Safety tips to remember when stripping

Stevens Aviation offers the following safety tips to keep in mind when using chemical strippers.

  • Always keep the floor wet with water while spraying stripper
  • Follow aircraft and stripper manufacturer's recommendations while stripper is being applied
  • Always wear all protective gear during the stripping process
  • Always keep at least two personnel in bay while spraying stripper
  • When steaming stripper off, always use four men
  • Be aware of EPA/OSHA requirements as well as local/state regulations when stripping

For more information, please contact Denise DeYoung or Chuck Yon at

Stevens Aviation, Inc.
600 Deleware Street
Greenville, SC 29605


Additional Resources

FAA Advisory Circular 43-205

Guidance for Selecting Chemical Agents and Process for Depainting and General Cleaning of Aircraft and Aviation Products.

995 Mill St.
Montreal, Quebec
Canada, H3C1Y5
(800) 561-3715

The ArmaKleen Company
469 N. Harrison St.
Princeton, NJ 08543
(800) 332-5424

Eldorado Solutions, Inc.
8935 North Meridian St.
Suite 205
Indianapolis, IN 46240
(800) 531-1088

General Lasertronics
374 S. Milpitas Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-6060

Henkel Surface Technologies (Turco)
32100 Stephenson Highway
Madison Heights, MI 48071
(248) 583-9300

Pauli Systems
2135 Skytop Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
(770) 908-0650

Randolph Products Co.
P.O. Box 830
Carlstadt, NJ 07072
(201) 438-3700

Solvent-Kleene Inc.
131 1/2 Lynnfield St.
Peabody, MA 01960
(978) 531-2279

Sponge-Jet Inc.
P.O. Box 243
Eliot, ME 03903
(207) 439-0211

TBM/Aviation Fluids Service
950 Kingsland Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63130
(800) 825-1128

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