Let me give you my guess to the question posed by the TO
, 'How Can Comair Get The BA
Livery So Wrong?'.
The first version versions of the BA
Union Flag livery as applied to subsonic aircraft was launched on Boeing 763 G-BNWR on 18 April 1999 that was to carry Queen Elizabeth on a State Visit to South Korea that day. However except on the almost-square-tailed BA
744s and Avro RJ
100s, this livery was different to that on all its other types to that which they wear today. (And here I am ignoring the fact that almost half the BA
fleet is now wearing the Crest version of the Union Flag livery while the other half is not.)
This original version of the livery I will call 'Union Flag Phase 1 livery'. It was characterised by a large area of white at the top of the tail on all aircraft where the height of the vertical tail surface was significantly different to the distance between the surface's leading edge and the trailing edge of its rudder. This Phase 1 version was used by BA
until the summer of 2000.
It may be that the first BA
aircraft to be painted in what I will call 'Union Flag Phase 2 livery' was a Boeing 777 236, G-YMMG. It was painted by Boeing before delivery. It differed from the Union Flag Phase 1 livery in that the tail image was enlarged so that a greater proportion of the vertical tail surface was coloured. A smaller area, particularly at the top of the surface, was white.
Below are two photos. The first is of 772 G-YMMF. This was the last aircraft painted by Boeing prior to delivery in the Union Flag Phase 1 livery. It was delivered on 17 May 2000.
The second photo is of the previously mentioned 772 G-YMMG. It was delivered on 27 September 2000. It may have been the first BA
aircraft to be painted in the Phase 2 version of the Union Flag livery.
To further illustrate the difference here is a photo of a Boeing 752 (G-CPEL) with a Union Flag Phase 2 vertical tail surface temporarily fitted with a Union Flag Phase 1 rudder:
View Large View Medium
Photo © Michael Nikel
What has all of this to do with Comair's 737 tails?
So far, except where qualified, the above is fact. Now some guess work.
The stencils for the Union Flag tail image are expensive. This is because they include a multitude of both light and dark dots of varying sizes to give the 'flag flying' effect. For BA
with a fleet of around 250 aircraft, including at that time 42 772s, the stencils would need frequent replacing through constant use. So new stencils will have been made. For Comair and their relatively small fleet of 737s this was not the case. Their Phase 1 stencils had much life left in them. So instead of enlarging the image they achieved a broadly similar effect by slightly increasing the distance between the top and bottom red areas and the middle blue area.
How do I deduce that the stencils are expensive? Well, originally the shading dots extended down onto the (red) tail cone. On all recently repainted aircraft these dots are totally absent. The tail cone's are an even red. I can see no reason other than cost saving for this change within the BA
If the above is correct I suspect that the Comair solution was approved by BA
(who needed the 737 Phase 2 stencils for their fleet of 19 734s they operated at that time).
Just a final question to those who have been so critical of Comair: When did you first become aware of the existence of both what I have called the Union Flag Phase 1 and Phase 2 liveries? And when did you first notice the absence of the shading dots on repainted tail cones. Of course it is obvious when aircraft are next to one another. But when they are not . . .