Photoluminescent Products for Rotary-Wing Aviation

Helicopter Tail Rotor with AfterGlo(R) Photoluminescent Propeller PaintAfterGlow, LLC is offering AfterGlow® brand photoluminescent safety products and AfterGlo® brand photoluminescent safety paint for military and commercial rotary-wing aviation applications.

Photoluminescent Paint for Enhanced Helicopter Main and Tail Rotor Visibility

Like aircraft propellers, helicopter main and tail rotors are dangerous to anyone who approaches them on the ground. Spinning so fast that they’re practically invisible, propellers are especially dangerous when light is low or visibility is limited. In nearly all cases, the tail rotor is within five feet of the ground and poses a real hazard to personnel, especially in uneven terrain.

At night, improvised landing zones (be it a vacant lot, road intersection, or some other cleared area) are an immediate attraction to people of all ages. Fire fighters, EMTs and police security personnel often have their hands full and even they can get distracted around the helicopter trying to keep order. People need sensory cues to warn them away from spinning rotor blades.

It’s tragically easy to be distracted amid the noise and stress of emergency operations at pre-configured or improvised landing zones, and so people are struck and killed or injured all too often.

Originally developed for the propellers of U.S. Navy propeller-driven aircraft deployed on aircraft carriers, AfterGlo® brand High Performance, Photoluminescent Green, Aerospace Safety Paint provides a unique solution for enhancing the low-light visibility of helicopter main and tail rotors as well. AfterGlow, LLC is now offering AfterGlo® brand photoluminescent safety paint to the U.S. Navy, domestic propeller manufacturers, and several military services outside the U.S. The aerospace and automotive-grade paint is applied to the tips of aircraft propeller blades, helicopter main and tail rotors, and other rotating objects to allow personnel to avoid injury or death from coming into contact with them in low-light situations. This paint was developed to help save the lives of men and women who must work at night in the vicinity of rapidly spinning propeller blades and rotors on carrier flight decks where inadvertent contact can have deadly results. The following un-retouched photos show how propellers with their blade tips painted with AfterGlo® brand photoluminescent safety paint (seen as green rings) appears with the blades spinning.

Helicopter with AfterGlo(R) Photoluminescent Propeller Paint

The paint is suitable for marking helicopter main and tail rotors to enhance awareness in low-light situations. This is of special interest to helicopter emergency medical service (EMS) and law enforcement operators for safety in and around both pre-configured and improvised landing zones. A paramount security issue for those personnel who work with EMS aircraft is awareness of the turning tail rotor and the need for heightened awareness during hours of darkness. Typically the tail rotor is within 5 feet of the ground. Where aircraft have landed on uneven terrain both main and tail rotors can pose real dangers.

A night, improvised landing zone in a city (be it a vacant lot, road intersection, or some other cleared area) is an immediate attraction to people of all ages and intelligence. Fire, EMS and police have their hands full and even they can get distracted around the helicopter trying to keep order. Photoluminescent main and tail rotor tip markings can be a literal lifesaver.

Feedback from helicopter emergency medical service (EMS) operators is that photoluminescent tail and main rotor markings will be a welcome and valuable safety enhancement. This solution combines a revolutionary, long-lasting, ultra-bright, non-radioactive photoluminescent material to dramatically improve propeller blade visibility under all lighting conditions. The application maximizes visibility, material adhesion, durability, wear-resistance and ease of installation without compromising propeller aerodynamic performance or aircraft detection. In emergency situations, greater visibility of main and tail rotors will help improve situational awareness. The wavelength of the emitted light is outside of the range of IR Night Vision Goggles, so use of the paint does not interfere with visibility when aircrew members are wearing NVGs.

The paint was developed under a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) contract as part of the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Under an exclusive agreement, AfterGlow® brand High Performance, Photoluminescent Green, Aerospace Safety Paint is manufactured by Sherwin Williams Aerospace Coatings, Automotive Finishes Corporation. AfterGlow, LLC sees the use of this paint and related AfterGlow® brand photoluminescent products expanding to applications in commercial aviation and other industries as well. AfterGlow® brand safety marking products are available online through For authorized government buyers, this paint is also available through the GSA under NSN 8010-01-558-3002.

Other Aviation Applications

AfterGlow, LLC also offers SleeveLight™ photoluminescent aircraft and vehicle tie-down marking devices and chocks as well as QuickLight® kits for making easy photoluminescent-backlighted operator checklists. Let our photoluminescent experts work with you to develop solutions for your particular needs.

AfterGlow, LLC also offers photoluminescent emergency egress lighting materials.  AfterGlow® brand Emergency Egress Photoluminescent Lighting™ Kits are currently is use by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to improve tactical vehicle safety and the ability of personnel to quickly and safely egress vehicles in low-light situations. These materials also have use in the world of aviation.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) determined that vehicle exits and escape hatches needed to be positively marked or illuminated to aid emergency egress. After evaluations and review, AfterGlow® brand Emergency Egress Photoluminescent Lighting™ Kits were selected for rapid field installation inside the passenger and operator compartments of certain classes of its tactical vehicles in order to provide our warfighters with simple, highly-reliable emergency egress markings. The kits, designed to be installed in the field, contain adhesive-backed photoluminescent tape and hybrid photoluminescent and retro-reflective markings for such items as fire extinguishers. As of mid-2011, over 23,000 of these kits have been shipped for use by the U.S. DoD.

Photoluminescent Aviation Products FAQs