ESTCP 2015 Project-of-the-Year Award for Weapons Systems and Platforms

Replacement of cadmium plating in aircraft landing gear manufacturing and maintenance is a high priority for the Department of Defense (DoD). Military aircraft maintenance depots use cadmium plating extensively to apply corrosion resistant coatings to various high-strength steel aircraft components during manufacture, repair, and overhaul. Wastes generated from these plating operations must abide by strict Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limits. The operational costs to comply with these rules and the increased turnaround times for processing of components require DoD to find an environmentally benign alternative to cadmium.

Mr. David Frederick of the 417th Supply Chain Management Squadron (SCMS), Landing Gear Team, at Hill AFB, Ogden, Utah, together with his team, demonstrated the use of low hydrogen embrittlement (LHE) zinc-nickel (Zn-Ni) for a wide variety of applications. The LHE Zn-Ni meets or exceeds all acceptance criteria for coating quality, adhesion, fatigue, corrosion, and hydrogen embrittlement. Based on test results and in field performance tracking, LHE Zn-Ni has been implemented into the Air Force overhaul facility and is being adopted by industry as an alternative to cadmium plating. Hill AFB has processed more than 1,000 landing gear components. Some of these components have been flying on aircraft for the past 3 years. Numerous commercial entities have tested and accepted LHE Zn-Ni, and installed LHE Zn-Ni plating lines following the U.S. Air Force lead. In addition, several DoD depots are exploring the utility of Zn-Ni plating based on the success of this project.

The LHE Zn-Ni coatings for military aircraft landing gear that were successfully demonstrated and transitioned by this project will help eliminate environmental and worker safety concerns associated with cadmium used in DoD plating operations. 

For this significant work, Mr. Frederick and his project team received the 2015 ESTCP Project-of-the-Year Award for Weapons Systems and Platforms. Project Overview

  Project Team 


  • Mr. David Frederick
  • Mr. Ron Montgomery
  • Mr. Chad Hogan
  • Ms. Carolina LeClair
  • Mr. Nate Hughes
  • Ms. Debbie Hall
  • Ms. Ruth Schaefer

USAF Wright-Patterson AFB

  • Mr. Thomas Naguy

Dipsol of America

  • Mr. Harry Willingmyre
  • Mr. Tarek Nahlawi

Boeing Research and Technology

  • Mr. Steve Gaydos
  • Mr. Louie Tran

NASA Corrosion Technology Laboratory

  • Mr. Kurt Kessel
  • Mr. Jerry Curran


  • Mr. Doug Wiser
  • Mr. Jeremy Hall
  • Mr. Craig Pessetto
  • Mr. Kelly Smith