Virgin Blue Airlines will apply a special “green” treatment to the paintwork on more than 70 of it’s aircraft as part of a major new investment in environmentally-friendly cleaning and maintenance technology.The airline has just signed a six-year agreement with Sydney-based specialist Permagard Aviation to rejuvenate and protect the exteriors of 72 current and future Boeing 737s and new Embraer regional jets, the first of which will enter service later this year.
The agreement is the largest single contract for Permagard, and its first appointment by an airline in Australia.
The Permagard process cleans and completely seals the aircraft’s outer surfaces without using water, creating a permanent barrier between the aircraft’s paint and the extreme flying conditions in the Southern Hemisphere.
The treatment involves the application of a sophisticated polymer fluid, which cleans the surface of the paint and restores it to the original colour. Once cured, the clear protective polymer layer provides UV filtering and high resistance to water and corrosive substances which damage aircraft paint.
“Our treatment is a totally green solution, designed specifically to protect high-performance painted surfaces,” said Mark Pettitt, Managing Director of Permagard Aviation.
“Currently, Virgin Blue is required to wash each of its aircraft every 60 days,” said Mr Pettitt. “Our programme eliminates the need to wash the planes, replacing this process with a reapplication of protective coating every 12 months.”
“Now that we have commenced a full six-year maintenance programme on the current fleet and other aircraft still to join the airline, our objective is to implement a total waterless cleaning programme for the Virgin Blue fleet,” said Mr Pettitt. “As well as rejuvenating the aircraft aesthetics, this will save tens of thousands of litres of water, in line with the airline’s strategy to drive environmental efficiencies.”
Mr Andrew David, Chief Operations Officer for Virgin Blue, said the company selected Permagard to treat the Virgin Blue fleet after an extended test program.
“The treatment is long-lasting, and resistant to a wide range of contaminants, and as a result reduces both the time taken to clean the paintwork and the water usage - benefits which have proved particularly attractive for Virgin Blue,” said Mr David.
“By reducing the amount of grime which sticks to the aircraft and by extending the life of the paintwork, we can reduce exterior cleaning time, defer major repainting and exterior restoration and increase the time in which the aircraft are in the air,” Mr. David added.
The Virgin Blue contract, which has just commenced, will include treating a total of 52 Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft and 20 new Embraer E170 and E190 jets. The program involves an initial treatment and ongoing servicing support for each aircraft.