Is That a Popping Rivet or Corrosion Bubble?

December 2014

It’s only been months since you had your aircraft painted and you are beginning to see cracks. Is it a cosmetic flaw or substandard paint job? Is that a popped rivet or a corrosion bubble? You may also be asking why my aircraft is cracking so soon.

The honest truth is that even the best cared-for aircraft with a perfect paint job will have cracks along the seams and popping rivets. Every time your fly your aircraft, it expands and flexes causing the thin layer of paint to crack. But you do not have to worry that every crack will lead to corrosion, as long as you maintain your aircraft properly.

Is It Corrosion?

Just like cracking seams, popping rivets are expected, but it can be difficult to identify if there’s corrosion around the rivet. Think of it like a skin cancer screening. If the circle has an odd edge, it might be corrosion. If it is a perfect circle, it is simply a popped rivet or bubble. This is normal wear.

Paint requires maintenance! Do not ignore it. As part of your regular daily inspection, a close look at how the paint is wearing is necessary. Every make / model aircraft has an area around seams that will crack first. If you do not know where that is on your aircraft, ask us! We have painted thousands of aircraft and can tell which seams will pop first.

  • What can you do to prolong the life of your aircraft’s paint?
  • Hangar your aircraft
  • Wash is regularly, especially if you fly it in geographical areas where the potential for corrosion is the highest
  • Wax the sections most like to corrode.
  • Look for and touch up cracks regularly, whether they’re cosmetic or not.