Perfected paint keeps aircraft flying

Aircraft surface finisher Corporal Kelvin Green is all smiles as the tail art on a No. 37 squadron C-130H Hercules is unmasked.

Soon after posting into No. 36 Squadron, Corporal Kelvin Green noticed a problem with the C-17A Globemaster’s paint.

“I look at every aircraft in detail – I can spot a repair and can tell if paint is not going to last,” he said.

Corporal Green noticed paint was delaminating about three months after returning from a full repaint in the United States, instead of lasting five to seven years.

When he realised this was causing an increasing workload, Corporal Green wrote a defect report including how to rectify the problem.

Boeing sent a team of scientists and engineers to inspect the aircraft and test Corporal Green’s theories.

“It turns out I was correct,” he said. 

“They took their findings back and made significant changes.”

No. 86 Wing sent Corporal Green to the United States to inspect the first Royal Australian Air Force C-17A painted after the changes. 

“It was great to see my report on display for all Boeing’s aircraft surface finishers to see,” he said.

For his intervention, Corporal Green received a Conspicuous Service Medal in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Corporal Green said support and recognition from his chain of command made this possible.

“It’s always a battle convincing people that paint should be a priority as it does affect the aircraft life,” he said.

Corporal Green's paint knowledge resulted in improved availability and reduced costs over the life of all C-17As.

The citation said his “extraordinary” vigilance and professionalism had a positive impact on the C-17A fleet worldwide.

“To actually receive it is unbelievable; it has still not quite sunk in,” Corporal Green said.

“For my mustering, such a small mustering; it’s an absolute honour.”