In the Toulouse-Blagnac airport zone – one of four AIRBUS manufacturing sites in France – the company relies on the protection of DuPont™ Tyvek® and Tychem® coveralls in paint spraying, aircraft maintenance and inspection applications.
AIRBUS, the leading European aeronautical manufacturer, employs 55,000 people across Europe in the design, development, manufacture, sale and technical after-sales support of its aircraft, which fly all over the world. Tyvek® 600 Plus and Tychem 6000 F coveralls are used to help protect many of its employees at the Toulouse-Blagnac site in France.
DuPont™ Tyvek® 600 Plus coveralls
Within the Clement Ader site in the Toulouse-Blagnac airport zone, teams of eight people spend up to a week spraying 3-6 coats of paint onto each AIRBUS A320 aircraft, depending on the complexity of the design. The aircraft, minus its jet engines, is surrounded by a special scaffolding structure about 50m long and 40m wide, spanning four levels, the highest of which surrounds the tail assembly and reaches nearly 15m.
To minimise risk of occupational injury or ill-health from exposure to any hazardous substances in the paint, a team of AIRBUS safety experts, together with the painters themselves, have introduced strict safety procedures. The AIRBUS A320 paint shop is equipped with sophisticated venting and air renewal systems. Filtered, dust- free air is vented through a blower positioned at the highest point of the building, and visible safety instructions remind painters of the number of workers that may be stationed on each scaffolding platform and the maximum weight permitted.
The personal protective equipment worn by painters in this area includes DuPont™ Tyvek® 600 Plus coveralls with integrated thumb loops, powered respirator, safety gloves and safety footwear. As the painters’ work involves reaching over the guard-rails with their arms permanently outstretched, the thumb loop attached to the sleeve of the coverall helps ensure that the sleeves stay in place underneath the safety gloves. Because the sleeves do not ride up, as was the case with previous coveralls, the suit is comfortable.
The Tyvek® 600 Plus coverall gives excellent protection from liquid splashes and mists, and is compatible with the ventilated respirators, gloves and safety footwear worn by the painters.
Tychem® 6000 F – chemical protection for people working in hazardous environments
In another area of the Clement Ader site, the AIRBUS A340 aircraft is built and assembled. AIRBUS inspectors and their customers’ counterparts rely on DuPont™ Tychem® 6000 F coveralls with integrated socks to help protect them from coming into contact with sealants and greasy substances used during manufacturing and testing.
Preventative and maintenance tests on the aircraft include inspection of the wings after simulated flight tests, in which inspectors enter the wing area via small manholes that are closed with an airtight seal. The air tightness of the structural fuel tanks and pressurized cells is also tested. Seals of the manholes, fuel tanks and pressurized cells are made airtight using dual component polysulphide sealant, which offers excellent adhesion to aluminium, titanium, stainless steel and many other materials. This substance can be handled in complete safety, provided certain precautions are taken.
Providing an excellent fit, the Tychem® 6000 F garment with socks is ideal for wearing in tight spaces without restriction of movement and therefore allows the inspectors to concentrate on their inspection of the wing area. The garment is lightweight with self-adhesive double zip flaps, elastic face openings, stitched and over-taped seams as well as elasticated cuffs and ankles.
AIRBUS and DuPont: long-term collaboration
AIRBUS has worked with DuPont Personal Protection since 2000 in finding appropriate protective clothing solutions for specific hazards and applications within its working environments. DuPont supplied suit samples for trial, and provided a plethora of technical information including performance parameters in terms of chemical barrier, tear resistance, permeation, antistatic properties etc. Following a series of trials and biometric analysis, the AIRBUS France Medical Department confirmed that the results of tests carried out on samples of Tyvek® and Tychem® were within the thresholds. In 2001 Tyvek® and Tychem® garments were selected. Today, DuPont is the sole supplier of Category III protection garments for AIRBUS, France.