VLM Airlines is a former Belgian regional carrier that operated a fleet of 15 Fokker50 from its main hub at London City airport to Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and The Netherlands. In 2008 the Flemish airlines joined the Air France-KLM group. Now 100%-owned by CityJet, the regional carrier of Air France-KLM, all flying operations are carried out for CityJet.
In 2008, the company specialized in short-haul operations was severely criticized by train supporters claiming that flying within the UK and on short distances to Europe was more damaging to the environment than taking the train on the same routes. VLM Airlines decided to answer the critics by publishing a fact sheet entitled ‘Setting the Record Straight, which aimed to refute the assertion that taking the train is less detrimental to the environment than taking the plane for the same journey. This fact sheet was demonstrating how train operators and their defenders were negating the actual negative impact railway has over the environment, like for instance, the carbon footprint of the power generation for their services.
To back its argument, the Belgian company referred to statistics from Sustainable Aviation Network Europe (SANE) which showed that if these factors were taken into account, CO2 emissions would be higher for a train than an aircraft.
In order to sustain its fact sheet, the company decided to launch its Green Machine campaign, and unveiled a specialized liveried aircraft flying on services into London City and Manchester airports during the Autumn season in 2008. The airlines management appointed BCO Media Sàrl to manage this special aircraft livery project based on vinyl application.
The technical department of Brussels Airlines had to face up multiple challenges and constraints in order to manage successfully the special livery project launched by the management :
- Time of the installation & decoration : Limited downtime was critical, forcing the technical department to come up with a solution of decoration of the fuselage that was quick and easy. The technical team only had 5 hours to decorate the aircraft during the night.
- Respect of aviation regulations : The livery solution proposed by the technical department needed to fulfill the demanding aviation authority regulations guarantying the utmost level of security and safety for the airline operations.
- Cost efficiency : The airline could not afford expensive painting operations on its aircraft because it was a temporary campaign only aimed for a few flights
Based on the above listed challenges, the technical department of Brussels Airlines appointed BCO Media, the Luxembourg specialist in aircraft decoration and technical markings based on aviation vinyl, to manage the aircraft livery project. BCO Media expert teams opted for a special aviation micro-perforated vinyl, to be applied on the aircraft fuselage. This technique offered multiple advantages for the airline while fulfilling all aviation regulations :
- No extra downtime required : Unlike painting operations, aviation vinyl installation doesn’t require long downtime. In order to avoid any unscheduled aircraft downtime, the installation of the decoration was combined with a technical weekly check operation on the aircraft overnight.
- Cost reduction : Beside the limited number of hours spent to manage the installation of the vinyl, the BCO Media decoration solution offers the most cost effective approach for airlines looking for time limited or permanent aircraft livery.
- BCO Media aviation vinyl fully comply with the FAA and EASA aviation regulations. The material is provided with certifications, and jobs are performed by certified staff.