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Why are airplanes painted white?

Why are airplanes painted white?
Why are airplanes painted white?

Most of the planes are painted white, you might have noted. Have you ever wondered why airplanes are painted white?

Well, we are sure many of you don’t know the reasons.

It’s probably something you’ve never thought about, and when planes come off the factory’s assembly line, they are green, but there’s a reason why planes are painted white.

For painting an airplane white, there are both scientific as well as economic reasons. 


One by one, we will take a look at all of them.

Easy To Change Company Logo’s

Easy To Change Company Logo's

Nearly half of the passenger airplanes flying today are leased by the airlines from big plane leasing companies.

It is easier and cheaper to lease a standard white airplane and then change its logos than repainting the entire plane. (which some leasing companies may not even allow).

Thermal Advantage

Thermal Advantage

The white object reflects all wavelengths of light, so the light is not converted into heat, while a colored object absorbs more wavelengths of light and converts them into heat.

So, the object gets warm.

That could be the main reason why the standard color became white. And also, due to less heat absorbed, the amount of air conditioning is reduced. 

That is a good thing not only when the airplane is in flight but also when it is parked on the runway when it takes less time to cool down in a hot, sunny environment when sitting on the ground.

Good visibility

Good visibility

One good reason for a white coat is visibility. 

Not being able to see it in the sky, but the visibility of corrosion, cracks, leaking oil, and suchlike on the ground. White shows up this sort of thing best.

So, from a safety standpoint, white is a no-brainer.

In an airplane crash, one can easily spot white color on both water and land. 

It is also easy to spot a white plane in the dark.

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Easier inspection of cracks and dents

Easier inspection of cracks and dents

Visibility is one good reason for a white coat. Airplanes are inspected regularly for cracks, dents, and any other form of damage to the surface (for obvious safety reasons).

No other color will be better than white when it comes to spotting a crack on the surface, as the damage is almost always darker than white.

Additionally, white also accentuates corrosion marks and oil leak spots. (as they leave a dark-colored trail).

Plus, in an airplane crash, one can easily spot white color on both water and land. It is also easy to spot a white plane in the dark.

Painting is Expensive

More paint= More weight= More fuel = More operating costs 

The paint on a fully painted 747 will weigh more than 250 kgs, while a polished skin will weigh 25 kgs.

EasyJet Airlines reduced 2% of their operating costs by just repainting their planes with new thinner aerodynamic paints.

When your annual fuel bill is USD 1.2 billion, 2% can mean a savings of USD 22.4 million.

Why are airplanes painted white?

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White doesn’t fade

White color doesn’t fade away as other colors do.

Moreover, maintaining and cleaning is pretty easy.

An average airliner will have several paint jobs during its service life.

But the longer you can go between, the better you have to repaint the aircraft.

Because so you don’t have to worry about the fading of the paint and look old for a long while, you can extend the time between paint jobs without making your customers begin to make snide comments about your fleet of hoopties flying.

Usually, colored paints fade away due to exposure to the sun, particularly at 30,000 feet, with more UV radiation.

White doesn't fade

Less Weight

Additional weight is added if aircraft are painted in other colors. The weight is higher, the consumption of fuel will also be higher.

If a Boeing 747 is painted in a different color, it would add 250 kgs of weight.

But if just a white paint job is needed, it would not add more than 25 kgs. 

By painting the airplanes white, American Airlines saves over $2 million per year on fuel costs.

Lower Resale Value

A painted airline has a lower resale value. 

Because if you have a colored airplane (parked in your private hangar) and you want to sell it, you should expect to make a little less than if it was a white airplane.

A smart airline company owner who wants to sell a plane does not need to repaint it. Subsequently, all he needs to do is to change the old company name and logo.”

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Ekster EU


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