Duncan Aviation logo

Is That A Popping Rivet Or Corrosion Bubble?

February 2023


It’s only been months since you had your aircraft painted, and you are beginning to see cracks. Is it a cosmetic flaw or a 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 (see photo below) and popping rivets (see photo above). Every time you 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?

Cracking-sealant.pngLike 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. A close look at how the paint is wearing is necessary as part of your regular daily inspection. Every make/model aircraft has an area around seams that will crack first. Ask us if you do not know where that is on your aircraft! 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 cosmetic or not.