Leading edge protection

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Charles
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Leading edge protection

Post by Charles » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:52 pm

My airplane went to a lot of gravel strips in its early life and the paint on the leading edge of the wings is chipped in many places.

I thought I would have the wings repainted and I was looking at a significant expense. But then someone suggested instead to apply a protective adhesive to the leading edges. 3M makes a polyurethane tape designed for precisely that purpose, and they make it in glossy white. I was thinking I would simply apply a 4" wide strip along the leading edge of the wings and tail.

That would have the advantage of hiding the damaged paint and, at the same time, providing protection against future damage.

A roll of tape costs about $100. If the color doesn't match or if it doesn't look good for some reason, I can always peel it off and have the wings repainted.

Here's a link to the product specs: http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebse ... PT8671.pdf

Any experiences with this kind of product? Any contraindication to trying that out, regulatory or otherwise?
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by smoss » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:49 pm

From a regulatory standpoint, I'd surely imagine any non-approved addition or change to a flight surface would not be allowed. Practically speacking though, assuming the stuff isn't like sandpaper or something, and won't come half off in flight, wedging into an aileron or something, sounds like a good idea and probably no one would ever care. Instead of putting the white on though, which I doubt would be a perfect match, I'd touch up all the little nicks first (see thread on touch up paint), and then use the clear tape. That would hide any surface irregularity the touch up paint may leave, and you wouldn't have an obvious white tape showing.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by Antoine » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:10 pm

I have the same problem but would not use this solution without some suitable form of signoff.
It may cause you a liability problem in the event of an NTSB investigation.

I would be curious to know if a measurable airspeed loss can be associated with such a mod.
After all it creates a small but still significant disruption on the leading edge across all of the wingspan. Similar to the TKS problems Diamond fixed in the DA42VI.

Why not have the leading edge paint touched up by a pro painter?
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by Charles » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:36 pm

The paint shop I went to said that anything short of repainting the entire wing would leave a noticeable repair. I'll get a second opinion.

The polyurethane tape seems to be acceptable in far more demanding applications. I wouldn't be too worried about it coming unglued or affecting flight performance.

http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebse ... yAjvZZZZ8-
http://solutions.3m.com/3MContentRetrie ... =ImageFile

Thanks for the reference to the touch up thread, I'll look it up.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by Mpatrickw » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:16 pm

I'd suggest touching up the paint to make it smooth, as previously suggested. But then the thinnest finish you can apply on top of this would be white Scotchcal or similar vinyl film. This is the same material as I used on my DA40 (see DA40 makeover on the DA40 section of the forum) for the graphic scheme. This vinyl is extremely thin, can't conceivably disturb the airflow, and gives you a matching gloss finish. I applied a yellow strip to my leading edges to be able to notice any icing (photo in the posts) and the vinyl is available in dozens of colours.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by Charles » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:08 pm

I went back to the paint shop and got a more reasonable quote this time so will have the wings repainted. Then I'll apply a clear polyurethane film. I doubt vinyl would offer the same level of protection.

I just had the wheel pants repainted and will look into some protection there too.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by smoss » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:57 pm

how much did you pay for painting the pants? Did you get them done at a auto paint shop or what? I'd be interested in doing mine also.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by Charles » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:20 pm

C$300 for the three including some fiberglass repairs to two, one that was cracked in one place and the other which had deep gouges on the inside, probably all caused by rocks. At that price, I'm not going to spend too much time looking for protection...

I had it done at an auto body shop that's located on a small airport near Montreal (CSB3). There was a vintage Porsche 911 Targa and a Cessna 185 getting complete paint jobs in their shop when I dropped in. The guys seems to know their stuff, both with cars and planes.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by rwtucker » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:47 pm

I'm not certain about the regulatory issues but leading edge tape is commonplace on many aircraft. I have it on my Dakota and it has been through more than 30 annuals, including with some very picky IAs. Probably half of the low wing pilots along my strip of hangars use it. It is more popular in this area because many pilots fly back-country (mostly off limits for Diamonds, unfortunately) and it is a real wing saver.

As for the "falling off," airfoil issues, or other safety issues, I have never seen any in 30 years. If anything, the tape probably improves the leading edge of a pitted wing and prevents pitting for wings that are smooth. The same tape is also used on many metal props that fly back-country.

I use only smooth paved runways for my DA40 but I'm putting the tape on when I get around to it.
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Re: Leading edge protection

Post by chili4way » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:07 pm

Does anyone have experience with using the Aerotect 3M paint protection films? https://www.aircraftpaintprotection.com/DA-40_c_24.html

(This also addresses the topic of DAN thread about "Stainless Nose Wheel Tow Bar Protection".)https://diamondaviators.net/forum/viewt ... ion#p48701
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