On almost all airliners I have seen, the doors are painted inside a rectangle which appear to reflect more light. This is the case whether in the aircraft has its manufacturer's paint or an airline's custom livery.

What is the reason behind this?

It can be seen in these pictures.

Airbus 380
Image Source

Boeing 787
Image Source

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nice question, some really simple that I didn't notice how useful actually is. I learnt something thanks to you. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2015 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ In almost all vehicle designed to transport passengers (e.g train) doors are painted differently. It make it easier for rescuers to find them. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Mar 14, 2015 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


The doors are painted like this because it is a federal law that all cabin doors on commercial airplanes should be outlined in a color which contrasts with the fuselage color. It is done so that in case of an emergency on ground, rescue crew can find the doors easily and open them quickly.

It happened in past years that passengers survived some crash landings (especially at night) but perished because the rescue crews could not locate the cabin doors in time to rescue them from the burning airplane. The contrasting outlines of the doors allow them to find the doors instantly.

Here is the actual text of this federal regulation:

14 CFR 25.811 (f) Emergency exit marking

(f) Each emergency exit that is required to be openable from the outside, and its means of opening, must be marked on the outside of the airplane. In addition, the following apply:

(1) The outside marking for each passenger emergency exit in the side of the fuselage must include a 2-inch colored band outlining the exit.

(2) Each outside marking including the band, must have color contrast to be readily distinguishable from the surrounding fuselage surface. The contrast must be such that if the reflectance of the darker color is 15 percent or less, the reflectance of the lighter color must be at least 45 percent. “Reflectance” is the ratio of the luminous flux reflected by a body to the luminous flux it receives. When the reflectance of the darker color is greater than 15 percent, at least a 30-percent difference between its reflectance and the reflectance of the lighter color must be provided.

(3) In the case of exits other than those in the side of the fuselage, such as ventral or tailcone exits, the external means of opening, including instructions if applicable, must be conspicuously marked in red, or bright chrome yellow if the background color is such that red is inconspicuous. When the opening means is located on only one side of the fuselage, a conspicuous marking to that effect must be provided on the other side.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, the original CFR actually does use "exists" instead of "exits" in section 3. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Mar 11, 2015 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ @fooot Good find. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Mar 11, 2015 at 20:09

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