Flying HighJuly 3rd, 2013 by Editor
Josh Hinton, owner of Precision Tint in Lake Charles, La., says he just completed an install he’ll never forget.
“This is the first helicopter I’ve tinted. I’ve done various houses and boats but that was my first helicopter.”
The installer says he applied a 20-percent ceramic, solar-free film to a privately owned Eurocopter EC130 for a customer who found him through Facebook.
“I work on helicopters part time so I was able to converse with the pilot,” he says. “I was able to explain the type of Plexiglas windshield and the benefits of applying film as well as the possibility that it may not stick. It actually stuck beautifully. They ended up taking us up for a flight afterward, too.”
Hinton says finding the right kind of film proved to be one of the biggest challenges. After initially trying a polycarbonate film, which didn’t properly adhere, he settled on the ceramic film and refined his technique.
“The helicopter is a big bubble, so there is a lot of heating, pulling and stretching. Other than that there’s nowhere to tuck the edges or gaps,” Hinton adds. “You have to cut it on the edge because there is a lip and it doesn’t want to lay down over that lip so you have to carefully cut it on the glass and make sure you don’t cut glass.”
Using proper cleaning procedures was another step Hinton says was vital.
“You’re working on a helicopter that’s inside of a bay and it’s not a very clean environment,” he says. “There’s a lot of dust that sticks around the seal so there’s a bit of cleaning to do. [The adhesive] actually stuck very well, very aggressively.”
Despite the tough regulations, Hinton says he’d be interested in tinting more helicopters in the future.
“It’s a hard service to get; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is involved heavily with helicopters so you have to get Federal Trade Commission approval to be able to put anything on that helicopter, they have to give their approval,” he notes. “You can run it by the company but they will have to get approved by the FAA, but it is definitely something I’d advertise. It would be an interesting market to enter.”
Hinton has upcoming plans to tint a Cessna 310 low-wing twin-engine plane.