Shot Blasting vs. Traditional Surface Preparation: Which is Best for Aircraft?

When it comes to maintaining and refurbishing aircraft, surface preparation is a critical step in ensuring the safety and longevity of these high-value assets. Traditionally, various methods have been employed for surface preparation, but shot blasting has emerged as a game-changing technique. In this blog post, we will compare shot blasting with traditional surface preparation methods and explore which is the best choice for aircraft maintenance.

Traditional Surface Preparation Methods

Before the advent of shot blasting, traditional surface preparation methods such as chemical stripping, sanding, and grinding were commonly used in aircraft maintenance. While these methods have their merits, they also come with some significant drawbacks.
Chemical Stripping: Chemical stripping involves the use of corrosive chemicals to remove paint, coatings, and contaminants from aircraft surfaces. While it can be effective, it poses environmental and safety concerns due to the use of hazardous chemicals.

Sanding and Grinding: Sanding and grinding are labor-intensive processes that can be time-consuming and result in uneven surfaces. They can also generate a significant amount of dust and debris, which can be harmful to workers and the environment.

The Advantages of Shot Blasting for Aircraft

Shot blasting offers several advantages over traditional surface preparation methods, making it a preferred choice for aircraft maintenance:
Efficiency: Shot blasting is a highly efficient process that can quickly remove paint, corrosion, and contaminants from aircraft surfaces. It reduces downtime and labor costs associated with surface preparation.

Uniform Finish: Shot blasting provides a consistent and uniform surface finish, which is essential for proper adhesion when applying new coatings or treatments. This ensures a high-quality and long-lasting finish.

Environmental Benefits: Shot blasting is a more environmentally friendly option compared to chemical stripping, as it generates minimal waste and does not involve the use of hazardous chemicals.

Reduced Worker Exposure: Shot blasting reduces worker exposure to dust, chemicals, and harmful particulates that are commonly associated with traditional methods like sanding and grinding. This contributes to a safer working environment.

Corrosion Prevention: Shot blasting effectively removes corrosion and creates a clean surface, allowing for the application of corrosion prevention measures, ultimately extending the aircraft's lifespan.

Choosing the Right shot blast media

Read more about shot blast media

To determine whether shot blasting is the best choice for aircraft maintenance, it's crucial to consider the type of shot blast media used. The choice of shot blast media depends on various factors, including the material being treated, the desired finish, and the specific requirements of the job.

Common shot blast media materials include steel shot, aluminum oxide, glass beads, and plastic media. Steel shot, for example, is ideal for removing tough coatings and contaminants, while glass beads are suitable for achieving a smooth, satin-like finish.


In the debate between shot blasting and traditional surface preparation methods for aircraft maintenance, shot blasting clearly stands out as the superior choice. Its efficiency, environmental benefits, and improved worker safety make it the preferred method for preparing aircraft surfaces. However, it's essential to emphasize that the choice of shot blast media is equally important, as it can significantly impact the results of the shot blasting process. By opting for shot blasting with the right shot blast media, aircraft operators and maintenance facilities can ensure that their aircraft remain in top-notch condition, both aesthetically and functionally, for years to come.