Special-effect coatings by PPG Industries’ aerospace coatings group enabled Virgin Atlantic Airways to have the unique reflectivity and bright, vibrant color the airline’s design and engineering teams wanted for its new livery.
The airline has taken delivery of the first new aircraft – an Airbus A330 – painted with Desothane topcoats by PPG Aerospace colored with Andaro special-effect pigment. The proprietary PPG pigment was used in coatings that create the red tail and engines and the aubergine Virgin Atlantic lettering across the aircraft. The fuselage is painted with Desothane topcoats in high-sparkle silver mica.
Traditional mica aircraft coatings have about 30 percent reflectivity, while coatings with Andaro pigment reflect about 90 percent of visible light, according to Alex Reid, PPG Aerospace account manager at the North Europe application support center in Shildon, England.
“Virgin Atlantic likes innovative technology,” Reid said. “Because using Andaro pigment in aerospace coatings was new, we worked closely with Virgin’s engineering team to get the products approved to apply to their aircraft. We worked alongside their design team to get the unique colors made with Andaro pigment incorporated into their new company identity.”
Virgin Atlantic’s design team came to PPG with a vision for the coloring. Reid and the PPG Aerospace coatings team sought input from color experts in PPG’s automotive OEM coatings business, and they adapted the Andaro pigment technology for aerospace coating applications.
Virgin Atlantic’s support throughout the process was unwavering, Reid said. “They signed on to the product and were willing to see it through to the end.”
Peter Wind, PPG sealants and coatings technical manager for the United Kingdom, oversaw testing to confirm the suitability of coatings with Andaro pigment for aircraft exterior application. He represented PPG at the A330 delivery ceremony in Toulouse, France, and on the aircraft’s maiden flight to London’s Heathrow Airport.
“It was a bright, sunny day, and the red Andaro pigment was shown to its full effect,” Wind said. “We walked around the exterior of the aircraft with Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway, and he was very impressed with the vibrancy of the PPG coatings.”
Desothane topcoats with Andaro pigment will be used on all new aircraft delivered to Virgin Atlantic and are being used for repainting its existing fleet with the new livery.