LINCOLN, NEB.—When a customer approached Duncan Aviation with a creative and detailed paint scheme he had commissioned for his aircraft, our paint team immediately went to the drawing board, determining how they could complete this unique task in the shortest timetable possible—all while maintaining a Duncan Aviation level of quality. The entire paint team rallied together to deliver a flawless paint job.
The custom paint scheme boasts countless lines swirling around the large aircraft’s fuselage to create a psychedelic 3D image. Previously, Duncan Aviation’s paint team had delivered everything from digital camouflage to vintage-inspired plaid jets, but the Lincoln, Nebraska, facility’s team had never done anything this complicated—on this scale.
“The first thing the sales staff asked us was, ‘can you do this?’” says Master Paint Specialist Stacy Finch, a 15-year Duncan Aviation veteran. “Our immediate response was, ‘of course.’ We love a good challenge.”
The paint scheme didn’t lend well to a template or lasers, so the paint team completed the majority of the work by determining spacing based on landmarks along the jet. They used their decades of experience and an artful eye to designate their tape lines accordingly, starting from the outside and working their way in.
“It’s a very intuitive process. Stacy and I have years of experience working together and when we look at a paint job, we see the same things and think the same way,” says Master Paint Specialist Troy Reinke. “Sometimes, one person tapes while the other stands back and gives direction. It’s really a team effort.”
Without a step-by-step guide, a lot of the taping was trial and error. It took nine days to complete taping on one side of the aircraft. Then, to ensure symmetry, they lined the aircraft with paper, traced the tape lines and used the paper as a template on the other side. It took two days to mirror the image on the opposite side before the paint team could apply the first color. A typical paint schedule allots for one or two days of taping on the entire aircraft, so there’s no question the detail in this job was astounding.
“The original concept was one color, but there was no way to accomplish the level of depth the customer desired with just one, so we used four varying shades of grey and had to tape and paint until all four shades were complete,” says Stacy.
All of this work required Reinke to work 40 days straight with Finch trailing close behind to deliver the aircraft as quickly as possible.
But Reinke and Finch weren’t the only two paint experts working on the aircraft, and the aircraft wasn’t the only aircraft in Duncan Aviation’s paint hangars. The Lincoln facility’s paint shop juggled four or five other aircraft while simultaneously working on the plane. And once Reinke and Finch completed the masking tape outlines, the rest of the paint team came in to help fine-line tape it. Because they were uncertain how long the process would take, the paint department gave the customer a rough estimate of five weeks and the aircraft was delivered within a few days of the projected out-date.
“When taking on a project like this, even with all the hours put in and sacrifices made, the paint team is motivated and inspired by the result each time,” says Finch. “It’s such a transformation, and that’s what keeps us coming back, day in and day out.”
To view a timelapse video of the paint job, visit www.DuncanAviation.aero/videos. For more information about Duncan Aviation’s paint services, contact an aircraft paint service sales representative at www.DuncanAviation.aero/paint.
To learn more about Duncan Aviation’s presence at NBAA, visit www.DuncanAviation.aero/nbaa or stop by Duncan Aviation at stand #C8543 at NBAA 2013 held October 22-24 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Arrick started his aviation career in 1985 by working the Line Department for Kal-Aero (which was acquired by Duncan Aviation in 1998) while attending Western Michigan University.