Glorious 5500

posted on 2nd October 2023
Glorious 5500

When a customer wanted their Global 5500 painted similarly to their fishing boat, West Star Aviation’s design and paint experts joined with Stephen Miles Design and Sherwin-Williams to create a spectacular result

“As much as I would love to take credit, the scheme was designed by Stephen Miles of Stephen Miles Design, who specialises in marine custom paint,” says Veta Traxler, Paint & Interior Designer at West Star Aviation. “He had designed the owner’s 52ft sport fishing boat and the graphics on the aircraft are an adaptation of the graphics on the boat. We seldom work with outside designers on the paint side of the business, but Stephen was very open to working with us throughout the process. He provided a vector file of the graphics so that we could scale them to the aircraft and asked me to recommend aviation grade colours. We then provided a large aluminium spray-out of a section of the design that encompassed all the colours for approval.”
The work was assigned to West Star’s Grand Junction, Colorado facility. Mark Birmingham, Grand Junction Paint Shop Manager, says the choice of Sherwin-Williams products was therefore inevitable. “They’re our go-to vendor. Our painters know how their product handles, which is imperative for complex designs like this.”
Selecting exclusively from the Sherwin-Williams Aerospace palette, Traxler and Miles settled on Antique Silver Metallic and Phantom Gray Metallic for the base colours, with accent stripes in Black Velvet Metallic, Matterhorn White Pearl and Midnight Silk Metallic. Birmingham notes that a clear coat was applied over the completed scheme, while Julie Voisin, Market Segment Manager, Sherwin-Williams Aerospace, explains: “The colours came from our Acryl Glo Conventional range. West Star has used the product for years and really mastered applying it for an optimised finish.”
Considering the Global 5500, Voisin continues: “The design is complex. The paint shop has to lay out a plan on how to process such a difficult design and use experienced painters to handle the sophisticated fading.” The work was completed in stages, as Birmingham explains: “After the aircraft had been stripped and sanded and the base coat applied, Stephen flew out to Grand Junction to approve the stripe layout. He was blown away with the talent of the team and how accurately our layout technician was able to apply complex striping on such a large canvas so quickly. The following week he got his hands on a paint gun and worked closely with our painters to ensure the shading was consistent with the rendering.”
“Aviation-grade paint is not as user friendly as automotive paint for special effect and shading applications,” Traxler explains, making the shading especially challenging. Voisin says the difference is down to the higher level of performance required from aerospace coatings and the need to spray very large surface areas with an impeccable standard of finish. “The West Star team made it look easy,” she says. “But it requires true professionals, paint artists, to create a finish like the Global 5500.”
“This custom scheme took just under 4,500 man hours to complete with 12 painters, the paint shop managers and myself,” Traxler reports. “Putting that into perspective, a standard scheme on an aircraft of this size would take roughly between 2,100 and 2,300 man hours.”
Was the effort worthwhile? “We love seeing our customers’ reaction but there is also such a sense of pride and ownership, knowing our team was part of a one-of-a-kind aircraft that people will want to emulate and will be talking about for years to come,” Birmingham enthuses. On behalf of Sherwin-Williams, Voisin is equally moved: “We love supporting paint facilities and seeing plane owners achieve something unique with their scheme – seeing the final finish on such a beautiful aircraft is very rewarding.”