VTOL Protective Laminates – Frequently Asked Questions

01. How do I obtain laminates for my particular aircraft?

VTOL has extensive experience in the qualification and fielding of protective laminates within the military community. Platform managers within the US or allied military who think their platform could benefit from the protective laminates can contact VTOL directly at info@vtolfilms.com or by phone at 704-781-5006.

OEM personnel who are interested in the protective laminates for their respective aircraft should contact VTOL to discuss specific applications. The VTOL “V3” laminates are relatively new and were originally designed for the US military. As such, they do not currently have any civilian qualifications from the FAA such as a STC. However, VTOL has worked in an OEM environment to field the “V3” laminates. The work with this OEM has led to the use of VTOL laminates worldwide.

02. Are the laminates available in my country?

VTOL laminates have a classification of “EAR99” and as such can be shipped without a license to most destinations. However, there are limitations on the use of EAR 99 shipments. VTOL will not ship to embargoed destinations, denied persons, sanctioned entities or prohibited end-users. Please refer to EAR Parts 736, 742, 744, 746, and 764 for further information and clarification.


03. What purpose do the laminates serve?

The laminates were originally designed to prevent the premature wear of helicopter windscreens due to sand abrasion. Over the years and through multiple versions of the laminates, additional benefits and purposes have been identified.

One such benefit is the protection from large particle impacts such as rocks impacting the aircraft windscreens. Feedback from the field indicates that large aircraft hovering in unimproved landing sites can cause large particles to become airborne with velocities sufficient to crack unprotected windscreens. Due to the thickness of the laminates on protected windscreens, the impact damage is mitigated.

Additional benefits include: enhanced resistance to bird-strike and blast damage, UV blocking, protection from accidental impacts during maintenance, enhanced hydrophobic action on the window surface, and field serviceability.


04. How durable are the laminates and how long will they last?

In the case of sand abrasion, the laminates wear at a rate slightly faster than glass. In the case of particle impacts, the laminates are far more durable than bare glass. When considering both abrasion and particle impacts simultaneously, the ultimate wear rates should be comparable or better than the bare window. This is especially relevant considering that the laminates cost a fraction of what the bare window costs. Laminates used for abrasion purposes will typically last 6 months to 1 year. Laminates used for impact purposes typically last at least 1 year and often longer. With no significant abrasion or impact damage, the laminates have the potential to last 2 or more years. Ultimately, flight hours and flight environment will determine how long the laminates will last.

05. Are the laminates compatible with aircraft and crew systems?

The laminates have been extensively tested over the course of approximately 3 years. The majority of the testing and evaluation was conducted by the US Navy at the NAVAIR materials laboratory located at Patuxent River, MD. The laminates were found to be compatible with all aircraft systems including: Night Vision Devices (NVDs), windscreen heat and deice, windscreen wipers, and all commonly used aircraft fluids.


06. Who should use the protective laminates?

Users who are experiencing abnormal or undesirable windscreen replacement rates due to windscreen abrasion or impact damage are the likely candidates. Other users may find merit in laminate use based on the ancillary benefits such as extra protection in the event of a bird-strike or accidental impacts during maintenance or storage. As there is no compromise in aircraft capability with the laminates installed, there is no downside with use aside from the cost. With most glass windscreens there is a very compelling “Return on Investment” (ROI) for the use of the laminates.

07. Do the laminates require any aircraft modification, special tooling, or maintenance?

The laminates require absolutely no aircraft modification. The laminates install on the surface of the windscreen within the airframe or windscreen frame. VTOL sells a low cost tool kit comprised of the tools determined over the course of many years to be best suited to the installation and maintenance tasks. One tool kit contains enough supplies to install laminates on at least 12 aircraft.

Once the laminates are installed, no special maintenance is needed. The laminates are compatible with all approved aircraft fluids and substances normally used in the course of maintenance. Abrasive cleaners should not be used on the laminates.


08. How long do the laminates take to install and remove and is there any downtime associated with installation?

VTOL protective laminate products can be installed on, both, a pilot and co-pilot window in approximately 30 minutes. Downtime associated with the laminate installation is currently 12 hours to 24 hours. This time varies with environmental conditions such as heat and available sunlight. Typically, colder environments will require a cure time closer to 24 hours and warmer environments will require a cure time closer to 12 hours. If possible, the laminates should be placed in direct sunlight during the curing period. To minimize the effect of downtime on unit or aircraft operations, it is recommended that the laminates be installed on spares or while the aircraft is undergoing “phase” or other maintenance necessitating downtime.

The laminates can be removed quickly (<15minutes) and require no special tooling or conditions. Due the bond strength of the laminate to the window, it may be beneficial to have two persons removing the laminate.


09. How do I obtain training to install the laminates?

VTOL conducts two laminate training classes related to the preparation, installation, use, maintenance, and removal of the laminate products. The first class is a one day class designed to train personnel to install the laminates. The second class is a two day “train the trainer” class designed to train personnel to install the laminates and to also train others to install the laminates as well. All persons installing the laminates are required to be trained by VTOL personnel or personnel formally trained by those that have attended and passed a VTOL “train the trainer” course.


10. Will the laminates blow off or come off during use?

Over the many years and iterations of the laminate products, this is the question asked most often. VTOL protective laminate products have never delaminated from any aircraft window surface under any circumstance. The laminates have been designed to have a minimum peel strength in all conditions that an aircraft would normally operate in. Additionally, a factor of safety exists above this minimum peel strength to ensure that a delamination never occurs. In typical use, this bond strength will continue to grow during the life of the laminate.

11. Are there any temperature limitations on the laminates?

The laminates have been designed to maintain their properties throughout the operating temperatures of US Navy military aircraft. The only other temperature constraints are not related to their use but would be limited to the installation and removal temperatures. For installation, temperatures above the freezing point are required. For film removal, best removal results occur with warmer windscreens.


12. Can the laminates be applied to used windscreens?

Typically, the laminates can be applied to slightly worn or used windows and don’t require the installation of new windows. In the case of severe pitting or abrasion, replacement of the window is recommended for best results. Ideally, the laminates should be applied to new windows and replaced as they wear. This prevents any damage from occurring to the actual windscreen.

13. Are demonstrations of the laminates available?

VTOL will be happy to provide demonstrations of the laminates and make available information to assist in determining if the laminates are appropriate or beneficial for your application. Please contact us at info@vtolfilms.com or by phone at (US) 704-781-5006 for further information.


14. Can the laminates be installed at the VTOL facility?

Due to the limited scope of use of some customers, operational security, or for logistics reasons, it may not make sense for VTOL personnel to perform training or on-site installation services. In the event that this is the case, you can ship your spare windows to VTOL and we can install protective laminates in our facility and return the spares to your location. Turnaround for this service depends on the number of windows but can typically be handled within a week.