While re-reading one of my earlier questions, the answers left me wondering how much good painted tips on props actually does. I did some searching for statistics but didn't come up with much. Are there any published statistics about how much safer it is to have painted prop tips specifically in military planes (although civil aviation stats would also be nice)?

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2 Answers 2


An FAA study looked into that, it's titled: A Review of Civil Aviation Propeller-to-Person Accidents: 1980-1989.

This part stands out:

While propeller and rotor paint schemes may reduce the number of propeller-to-person accidents, there is little information available regarding the various circumstances surrounding the accidents that do occur.

So there is little information. Their summary is:

Persons most at risk for a propeller-to-person accident are deplaning passengers and passengers attempting to assist the pilot. That finding clearly assigns considerable responsibility to pilots to ensure safety of their passengers in this regard.

As you see, they did not stress on the paint, they also highlight that since the past, propeller driven aircraft are no longer the most popular type [for civil air transport].

An older study but relevant was conducted by the US Army. The document does not list accidents or statistics, so it's safe to assume it's a precaution. Better safe than sorry.

And in an environment such as an aircraft carrier's deck at night, it most certainly helps (but that's my opinion), there isn't a control set for a scientific assessment (as far as I can tell).


Painting the propeller tip is required by current regulations, most of which evolved from earlier variants of policies and procedures in each service or organization. The FAA's guidance says:

For safety and glare reduction for conventional single-engine tractor type aircraft, keep the blade backs painted flat black and the propeller tips painted with the appropriate colors to ensure good visibility.

While no collection of safety statistics exist, common sense and logical thinking should prevail. The effect of paint on visibility is clear and should not need empirical evidence, like statistics.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer but my question is about how much good this rule actually did and how dangerous planes without painted props were. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Jan 13, 2018 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ The question for statistics targeted the safety benefits and whether statistics exist for this claim. It did not imply that this should be changed, nor did it claim the opposite. Referencing logical thinking and common sense might seem inappropriate here. $\endgroup$
    – rul30
    Jan 14, 2018 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think statistics and logical thinking contradict. $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2018 at 17:28

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