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Why Are The Airplanes Usually Painted White?  
User currently offlineEmrecan From Turkey, joined Feb 2000, 940 posts, RR: 7
Posted (9 years 3 months 4 days ago) and read 17592 times:

Hi everybody...


Is there any reason that the planes are usually painted white? (except some Qantas 747s)

Is it because cheap or any other reason?


Thnx for the replies

bst rgrds

[Edited 2005-05-21 11:41:20]

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCatatonic From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 1155 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 17536 times:

White reflects heat also keeps operating costs down, I think is the jist of it.


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User currently offlineCRJ900 From Norway, joined Jun 2004, 2174 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 17512 times:
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White oozes crisp minimalism and is very handy if the airline needs to sell the aircraft in a hurry - the new owner doesn't have to repaint the whole aircraft, just the logo and company name - very economical.


Come, fly the prevailing winds with me
User currently offlineCATHAY747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 170 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 17509 times:

Yes, quite right Catatonic...white reduces ambient temp. inside the cabin. This was discovered I believe in the 1950's, and AA painted a DC-6 or DC-7 in an experimental white livery, but AA's President, C.R. Smith, hated the look, so he ordered it stripped and the idea abandoned.

Note that reducing the cabin temp. isn't just a passenger comfort issue...it reduces the amount of air conditioning needed, thus saves aircraft fuel or gas for a ground power unit on layovers.

I believe other colors have the effect, too, but I think it was found that white was the best.



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User currently offlineNewkai From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 330 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 17497 times:

I read somewhere that AA saves over $500,000/year in operating costs by not painting their aircraft.

User currently offlineLH526 From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 2356 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 17494 times:
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Beside the quite technical issues like heat reflection, I think it also has to do with the logical "design view" of the creative minds behind:

Canvas is WHITE, sheets of paper are WHITE .. white is where every design begins, it's THE basic, neutral color ... so I think it has this very down to earth explanation.

Mario
LH526



Trittst im Morgenrot daher, seh ich dich im Strahlenmeer ...
User currently offlineMariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 25071 posts, RR: 85
Reply 6, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 17460 times:
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Quoting CATHAY747 (Reply 3):
This was discovered I believe in the 1950's, and AA painted a DC-6 or DC-7 in an experimental white livery, but AA's President, C.R. Smith, hated the look, so he ordered it stripped and the idea abandoned.

I like the story, but I am not certain it is accurate. Sorry.

I think BOAC was painting the top half of their aircraft white in the late 40's partly because of the tropical work.

I think that when they introduced the Stratocruiser in 1949, that aircraft had the white top, even though those planes weren't going tropical. All my early memories of the Constellations in 1951/52 to/from Singapore/Australia were also white top.

In 1952, all the BOAC tropical subsidiaries (Aden Airways, Arab Airways, etc) were white top, so it must have been around for a while.

I suspect that Pan Am Stratocruisers had the white top, too.

But my memory may be imperfect.  Smile

cheers

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlinePilotaydin From Turkey, joined Sep 2004, 2539 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 17458 times:

when thinking about larger aircraft such as the 747 and A380, painting most of the fuselage will add almost 500kg to a ton to the aircraft weight, although this doesnt sound like a lot, long term calculations will show that some sort of money is saved from avoiding this


The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 17416 times:

Apart from Heat Absorbing/Reflecting theory.
White based Paint Job,makes a Livery look better.
Although the Former reason seems most accurate.  Smile
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17015 posts, RR: 67
Reply 9, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 17345 times:

Quoting Newkai (Reply 4):
I read somewhere that AA saves over $500,000/year in operating costs by not painting their aircraft.

Sounds like an aviation myth. First of all, a little over $1000/plane/year is peanuts and most likely within the margin of error. Secondly, AA planes are, in fact, painted.


Useless trivia: Concorde liveries were restrictive and had to be mostly white, as shown here with all the actual and proposed liveries: http://www.concordesst.com/history/orders.html



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 17305 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 9):
Secondly, AA planes are, in fact, painted

Only the parts of the a/c that are painted are made of composites or nonmetallic materials. So that means the tail, the engine nacelles, and the nose cone. Other than the American Eagle a/c, the only non-transitional/hybrid livery AA a/c to ever be painted were some of their A300s, which were delivered painted grey due to the metals used on the A300s (same reason why Eastern's never wore the standard EAL bare metal scheme). Eventually coatings were developed so that AA could have their A300s in the standard livery.


User currently offlineJAM747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 550 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (9 years 3 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 17182 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 9):
Quoting Newkai (Reply 4):
I read somewhere that AA saves over $500,000/year in operating costs by not painting their aircraft.

Sounds like an aviation myth. First of all, a little over $1000/plane/year is peanuts and most likely within the margin of error. Secondly, AA planes are, in fact, painted.

The January edition of Airways magazine had an interesting article on 'Paint Or Polish' It had special mention of AA and their silver ( unpainted) birds which it stated
" American Airlines saves more than $2 MILLION a year in fuel costs thanks to these weight savings " some of AA planes such as the Airbuses are painted because of the different types of aluminum or composites used. The article also stated that in the January 04 edition of American Way the president and CEO of American had a page long piece on how the polished birds save AA money. Sometimes hundreds of lbs of paint is required to paint an aircraft which adds weight. White paint needs more layers than darker colors but helps keeping the A/C cooler


User currently offlineCATHAY747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 170 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (9 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 16901 times:

Quoting MARINER:

I like the story, but I am not certain it is accurate. Sorry.

I think BOAC was painting the top half of their aircraft white in the late 40's partly because of the tropical work.

I think that when they introduced the Stratocruiser in 1949, that aircraft had the white top, even though those planes weren't going tropical. All my early memories of the Constellations in 1951/52 to/from Singapore/Australia were also white top.

In 1952, all the BOAC tropical subsidiaries (Aden Airways, Arab Airways, etc) were white top, so it must have been around for a while.

I suspect that Pan Am Stratocruisers had the white top, too.

You know, upon reflection, it might have been earlier, maybe the 40's, that AA tried the white paint, on a DC-3, and then again in the 50's on a DC-6...they may have tried to convice C.R. Smith more than once; the story is in Robert Serling's excellent history of AA titled "Eagle".

I was not aware of BOAC doing it that early, thanks for the info!! I'd also forgotten about the PAA Strats.

Clearly, it's MY memory that is faulty!



You know, there's a word for women like you, not used in high society, outside of a kennel!
User currently offlineLamedianaranja From Venezuela, joined Nov 2004, 1246 posts, RR: 21
Reply 13, posted (9 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 16893 times:

It's not something you want to think about but if the aircraft comes down in an accident, whether on the ground or on water, it easier to spot being white.


I wish that all skies were orange and blue!!
User currently offlineDowningbarry From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2004, 34 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (9 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 16875 times:

I'm surprised that one reason being suggested is to do with cooling - certainly white is a reflective 'colour' and would help keep the aircraft cooler than a black aircraft while on the ground, but at 30,000ft the air temperatures fall below freezing - I would have thought that an aircraft at cruising altitude wouldn't need to be kept cool. I'm not a physicist so would be interested to know whether this is in fact the case, or whether the friction of the air passing the aircraft surfaces generates lots of heat. This isn't the space shuttle after all!

I'm sure it's just because everyone else does it and, as someone has suggested, to enable aircraft to move from one carrier to another with ease. In the past twenty years we seem to be moving towards aircraft designs that are more colourful and serve an advertising purpose: Wanula dreaming, the LOTR Air NZ design, Peter Max etc...

Interestingly, other than the Pepsi concorde, have any airlines used their aircraft for commercial advertising? I would imagine the revenue that could be generated would easily compensate for the extra running cost caused by weight etc...?


User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7949 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (9 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 16840 times:

Most aircraft are painted in white for branding/marketing purposes and nothing else. Period.

For a designer, white is actually no colour but rather the result of brightening whatever colour to the maximum. Hence, you can use white without messing around with the so called colour angle and coulour contrast set by the brand's original colours. Same goes for grey and black.
White stands for purity, clearity, seriousity and, as far as communication between the company and its clients is concerned, for simplicity and confidence.

Same goes for cruise ships, btw.

The fact that white helps to keep the plane cool while on ground is a secondary reason at best.

[Edited 2005-05-22 14:10:33]


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User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7949 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (9 years 3 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 16813 times:

Quoting Downingbarry (Reply 14):
Interestingly, other than the Pepsi concorde, have any airlines used their aircraft for commercial advertising? I would imagine the revenue that could be generated would easily compensate for the extra running cost caused by weight etc...?

Low cost carriers do so frequently. All other carriers shouldn't do it, because it would shift the brand's image towards those of no-frills airlines.



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