Aircraft Manufacturers' Approvals
Boeing Defense & Space Group (BDSG)
EnviroStrip® wheat starch media is approved for application on the KC-135 aircraft and the B-1 bomber. Although still a relatively new product, EnviroStrip XL corn hybrid polymer is on a fast-track qualification program at BDSG for the KC-135.
With help from Northrop Grumman, BDSG has also approved EnviroStrip wheat starch media for use on the Space Shuttle Fleet. The thermal protection system (TPS) adhesive together with other coatings are removed from America’s Space Shuttle vehicles during scheduled overhauls.
Boeing Commercial Airplane Group (BCAG)
In 1993, Boeing’s commercial division approved EnviroStrip wheat starch media for use on metallic and composite surfaces for its entire airliner fleet. This includes airplane models 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777.
BCAG’s EnviroStrip approval allows for an unlimited number of applications on aluminum alloys 0.032-inch or greater in thickness. This applies to all clad aluminum, chemical conversion, and anodized finishes. Bonded aluminum honeycomb sandwich structures with face sheets 0.012-inch thick and all other metals - including plated structures - are also covered by this approval. Pertinent Boeing reference documents are Boeing Service Letter “Wheat Starch Blasting for Paint Removal” dated April 12, 1995, Boeing documents BAC 5725, PSD 6-72, “Stripping Organic Finishes”, and Boeing D6-55564 “Requirements for Alternative Paint Stripping Processes."
A Boeing composite stripping process provides recommendations for the maximum number of stripping cycles for each Boeing composite material specification. Selective stripping - where one or more paint layers are removed while leaving the primer intact - and complete finish removal are allowed. Application of selective stripping is permitted an unlimited number of times, while complete finish removal can be performed 2 to 5 times depending on the composite material. Complete finish removal is not possible on aramid (Kevlar®) substrates. Boeing reference documents for composite stripping include Boeing Service Letter “Wheat Starch Blasting for Paint Removal” dated April 12, 1995, and Boeing document D6-56993 “Wheat Starch Media Blasting for Removal of Finishes From Composite Parts."
The Canadair Division of Bombardier developed and approved an EnviroStrip wheat starch media stripping process for aluminum alloys 0.032-inch or greater in thickness. Five applications of the process are allowed on Bombardier-Canadair Challenger and Regional Jets(CRJs). An extensive test program was conducted by Canadair comparing Type V plastic and EnviroStrip wheat starch dry stripping media. EnviroStrip was selected as the preferred product for its acceptable finish and minimal mechanical effects on anodized clad aluminum. Aircraft structural repair manuals are currently being updated to include the appropriate process parameters and material limitations.
In 1998, Cessna Aircraft issued an EnviroStrip wheat starch media stripping specification for aluminum alloys 0.032-inch or greater in thickness. The process specification applies to all Cessna aircraft, allowing five stripping applications in the operating life of each aircraft. Both clad and bare aluminum finishes are included in this specification. Cessna is now investigating EnviroStrip application on thinner aluminum alloys (0.020-inch in thickness) as well as on composite materials.
In the early 90s, Northrop Grumman (NG) developed a wheat starch stripping process for the B-2 stealth bomber. EnviroStrip wheat starch media was the only product that effectively removed the low observable coatings without damaging the composite surfaces used on the B-2. Approximately 95% of the B-2’s 10,000-sq.ft.surface is made of five different types of carbon fiber or fiberglass construction. The majority of the USAF B-2 fleet has now been stripped once with EnviroStrip and NG is actively seeking additional stripping contracts for its Palmdale facility.
In 1991, Raytheon (formerly Beech Aircraft) was the first to recognize the merits of using wheat starch media for stripping aerospace materials and aircraft. Since then, Raytheon has given an NTO for using EnviroStrip® on the aluminum alloys of Raytheon aircraft and component structures.
NASA contracted Northrop Grumman to strip F/A-18 Hornet fighters with wheat starch media. With a substantial carbon fiber surface on this aircraft, EnviroStrip wheat starch media is the ideal process to strip both aluminum and composite surfaces in one cost efficient operation. NASA has approved future application of wheat starch media on its F/A-18 aircraft assigned to the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.
Canadian Department of National Defence (DND)
The Canadian DND contracted Bombardier’s Defence Systems Division to strip CF-18 Hornets with EnviroStrip. Based on the success of these operations, the Canadian DND has approved the use of EnviroStrip wheat starch media on its CF-18 fleet. All CF-18 metallic and composite surfaces are approved for stripping with wheat starch media.