AviTrader_Monthly_MRO_e-Magazine_Blackbird_MaskingsAviTrader MRO: Blackbird company profile

Wheels and brakes: A paint job solution

Aircraft wheels and brakes are seriously damaged during the two most critical phases of flight — takeoff and landing. With such wear and tear, these two essential components of every aircraft require continuous overhaul for their safe operation.

Currently, after wheel and brakes are repaired, most overhaul centers rely on old-school masking tape to cover specific openings so their housings can be primed, repainted and coated. The tape is stretched and then trimmed to size with razor blades – a process that’s both tedious and labor-intensive.

After listening to constant complaints from paint shops, Rich Brown and Jason Rayman used their 30 years of aviation maintenance experience to develop a practical and lean solution. Their result is Blackbird’s unique patented masking kits. With a Blackbird kit, an aircraft wheel or brake can be masked or unmasked in less than two minutes – a dramatic savings in both time and expense over the current method. For example, a basic Citation wheel requires 40 minutes to tape. The Blackbird masking kit can accomplish the same task in just 38 seconds.

Blackbird masks snap on easily and are manufactured to the industry’s highest standards, ensuring product consistency. The paint maskings meet OEM specs detailed in the overhaul manuals and have been tested and specifically engineered for aircraft wheels and brakes. Using Blackbird’s paint maskings eliminates the potential for personal injury, overtime costs, waste and excessive disposable tape purchasing. All of Blackbird’s products can be custom-manufactured to a client’s specifications. Blackbird’s kits are currently used in Aviall, Honeywell, Aerolineas Argentinas, Safran and Messier-Bugatti’s repair maintenance facilities.

Orbs are another great aviation tool for product and brand recognition. This easy to install name plate fits in the bearing bore area of a wheel and is used to protect bearings in transit while promoting your business. Your wheels can stand out from the rest simply by incorporating your logo or company information. They can also be attached on the outside of wooden boxes and crates to instantly identify your company and/or products.

The team at Blackbird have also pioneered other solutions for aircraft wheel and brakes. Wheel stands can secure a tire in place to easily install the wheel. High quality, affordable and easy to use custom stencils quickly help to identify tire changes and dates of install. Valve stem wheel protectors prevent breakage in transit. Blackbird’s brilliant turntables can handle up to 1k lbs and makes it cinch to turn a wheel with one hand. Wheel cone stands are used during the wheel primer process. Just spray and flip – there is no waiting for one side to dry. These workhorses ensure your business is as efficient as possible saving you time and money.

Blackbird provides consulting, advanced design, engineering and manufacturing services to the aviation sector.
For more information on Blackbird: please visit or 954-482-4269.

Aviation Week: Plastic for Tape

A quick way to mask off areas for painting speeds up wheel and brake overhauls

It was the annoying stuff they learned about in the wheel and brake business that prompted Rich Brown and Jason Rayman to start Blackbird Design two years ago as a specialty tooling supplier. The annoyance was the time and effort wasted applying and then stripping out masking tape that is needed to protect sensitive areas from being repainted as the overhaul is completed.

“One of the things that was always a thorn in my side was in the paint area,” Brown says of this universal bottleneck. He and Rayman decided the better way was to make reusable plastic masks that can be snapped onto or over sensitive areas-piston and cylinder sleeves, mating surfaces in the piston housing, torque tubes, bushings, bolt holes-to protect them from primer or final coats of paint.

The strategies that suppliers, especially small ones, use to survive in aerospace and defense are always of interest to this column. Blackbird certainly qualifies as a small supplier:

Besides its two founders, it has only two other employees. One common theme from prime or upper tier suppliers is for smaller competitors to merge. Another approach is to find a niche and fill it. That has been Blackbird’s approach.

Although their repair work may require thousandths-of-an-inch tolerances, overhaul centers have typically relied on old-fashioned masking tape to cover critical openings so that wheel and brake housings can be repainted after they have been repaired. The tape is laboriously stretched and then trimmed to size with razor blades. After painting, fingernails or razor blades peel it away.

Taping is tedious. One computer numerical control cutters (see photo) cut out the masks, making it easier to account for variations in assemblies for different aircraft.

Their initial focus is on masks for wheels and they have gained 20 regular customers, including major manufacturers (Honeywell, Goodrich, Messier-Bugatti, Meggitt) airlines, parts distributors and third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul centers. The industry’s shift to service-by-the-hour contracts works to Blackbird’s advantage because it puts a premium on efficiency.

Kits are customized to conform to how individual shops do their overhauls.

The company mainly covers corporate, regional and commercial jets, whether the obsolete such as MD-11s and 737 Classics- or current models- Airbus A320s and Embraer Phenoms. But Blackbird also has a defense contract with Messier for overhauls of Boeing C-17 main landing wheels. Wheel applications include orbs that protect the bearing bore area during shipping.

As the partners’ initial masks for wheels took hold, customers began asking about six months ago for the same applications for brakes. One simply specified what he needed, ending the call by asking, “By the way, how much are they?”

By: Michael Mecham
Aviation Week

For more information:

10253 N.W. 53rd St.

Sunrise, Fl 33351

(954) 482-4269