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The toggle switches in the cockpits of new aircraft are painted white. e.g. 737 MAX:

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but a 727

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Why?

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  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't necessarily call the 737 a new aircraft. It first flew in the 60s and the design of the overhead has not changed since then (including for the MAX). Check out pictures of the 777 and 787 for the new design used by Boeing. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Dec 13 '20 at 12:07
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The reason is threefold:

  • White knobs offer better contrast, and are thus easier to spot regardless of lighting conditions

  • The material used has improved and consistent friction and "feel" to it. Bare metal switches, especially when worn out by use may become slippery, and since some of the toggle switces have detents, operating them might be compromized.

  • The plastic coating (on at least most) of the switches can be renewed without replacing the whole switch assembly. For example on the larger switches white knobs are screw on -type

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