A plane's livery, or special design and color scheme used by the company, helps it stand out. For example, Southwest Airlines is known for their canyon blue, gold, red, and orange aircrafts. As a result, the look of the plane leaves a lasting impression on those who see it. It's easily recognizable.
Painting a Boeing 737 is an expensive and time consuming process. Brand new airliners are often called 'green jets' because they are covered in a green anti-corrosive coating used to protect the aluminum. This coating must be washed off before painting begins. Note that each layer of paint has a 12-hour dry time. The process takes even longer when working on resale planes.
Many companies such as Virgin Airlines and Japan Airlines opt for mainly white bodies, using color only for the lettering and logos. This cuts down the time and cost to complete a paint job, but there are more reasons why most aircrafts stick with white. Continue reading to learn more.
The Exterior of a Plane
A company’s livery can make all the difference. It isn’t just a chance to represent the company but also the country or region that it is from.
Companies have the freedom to paint their planes however they would like, from black and rainbow, and we’ve seen some pretty creative designs out there.
Check out this Hello Kitty plane for Taiwanese international airline EVA Air. Pretty spectacular, isn't it?
Here's a look at a plane fresh from the manufacturer.
As we mentioned, the green color isn’t from paint but a temporary protective coating (TPC) for the aluminum underneath. After the TPC is dissolved, professional painters will sand the area before applying a primer paint such as a light yellow and go from there.
Now, here's a few reasons why most airline companies stick with white paint.
Using white paint is cost efficient.
White is simple. It is easily available and you don’t have to wait for a special order to come in.
Also, more paint is added weight, which increases fuel consumption.
Depending on the livery, a paint job can cost up to $200,000 so you can imagine that most would want to keep the costs down. Don’t forget that decals are a separate cost.
Visibility is key.
We don’t mean that the plane is more visible in the sky. We mean that when examining the plane, it is easier to spot potential problems such as metal fatigue and oil leaks if the body is white.
Companies have to make sure they don’t apply too many layers of paint to keep up with safety precautions.
Pieter van Marion
White planes are less likely to fade.
When you’re doing laundry, you’ll notice that darker colors fade more easily than the light colors and whites. The same goes for dark paint. It is also much more noticeable if the paint flakes off of a dark colored plane.
Depending on the company, a plane can run on a 5 year paint schedule, earlier if the situation is dire.
White planes cool down faster.
White paint reflects sunlight, which helps keep the interiors cool, while other colors can absorb it. It is best to avoid heating up the body of a plane.
A standard white plane has a higher resale value than a colored plane.
This is because more work would have to be done with a colored plane. With decorative planes, they’ll be using more paint, which increases fuel consumption.
Companies who purchase brand new planes want to maintain the quality, especially if the planes are purchased on loans, so white is usually a safe way to go.
Have you ever seen how a plane is painted? It's a truly impressive process, and you can check it out in the video below.