Hot answers tagged

80

White has some significant thermal advantages over color. In most cases, this is probably just a benefit in terms of keeping the cabin slightly cooler. In the case of 'plastic' airplanes (those built with composite construction), some airframes require the use of white paint on upper surfaces to keep some elements within limits. Early Diamond Aircraft ...


69

The green coating is a primer (historically zinc chromate, these days zinc phosphate is used as it's less of an environmental hazard) - While you could theoretically fly around like that it is a rather ugly shade of green, so most folks (and airlines) tend to paint their aircraft some other color. So why white? White has a few advantages, but the two ...


65

Paint stripper. Lots of paint stripper. (originally I said thinner, but I have been corrected, it's more accurately called stripper) Seriously though, it's actually not too different to other things that you paint. You need to spray on paint stripper. But, just like when painting the aircraft, it's imperative that you cover up all the delicate systems on ...


45

Not the FAA, but the manufacturer. If the parts are composite, only a small range of colors may be approved, depending on the glass transition temperature of the resin matrix. For gliders, only white is allowed for most of the surface area, and similarly composite parts of airliners must be painted in a light color so they don't heat up too much in sunlight....


41

There is a discussion on it here that's worth reading but in short the requirements were just different. A few of the key points, The black color on the SR-71 offered some night camouflage in addition to its heat dissipation The Concorde had an Aluminium airframe while the SR-71 had a primarily titanium airframe which could lead to different coating types. ...


39

I remembered hearing that paint actually reduces the drag of the plane. Searching a bit I found this Boeing document describing it. So the painting reduces the fuel costs, instead of increasing them. Another interesting thing is, that planes are regularly repainted to keep the drag low. Of course there is the billboard effect too. From the report: In ...


31

They do have temporary liveries. This is very common in wet lease operators, where an aircraft is flown for an airline during a peak period or when their planes are down for maintenance. Airlines want customers to feel they are getting the brand-name product they are paying for; they don't want customers to board a generic white jet. An airplane will be ...


30

In addition to the chemical method in Simon's answer, there are mechanical methods, like bead blasting. This method was introduced in the 80s by airforces concerned with the volume of chemical waste generated by their maintenance facilities. It essentially consists of using compressed air to project fine plastic particles ...


29

White is indeed chosen for thermal reasons. Gliders use epoxy resins which cure at room temperature and are then tempered at 60°C. This tempering shifts the glass transition temperature to something close to the tempering temperature, so the structure must not be heated under stress to more than this temperature. To limit heating by solar radiation, black ...


27

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 ...


26

Quite apart from the paint preventing corrosion, which puts the lie to the idea that AA flies unpainted aircraft (they don't, they use a clear paint on metallic parts and metallic paint on non-metallic parts), there's the economic factor. Those aircraft are flying billboards for their owners. They are a major part of brand recognition. That's why they're ...


19

(Source: airliners.net) The letters read 'air bridge'. The line is used for docking with the air bridge as you suspected. Also see: What are these markings under the passenger door? (...) the position of the alignment marks are not standardized and are carrier specific. It also appears on the silver livery: (Source: planespotters.net) It reminds me of ...


18

Of course, in certain situations a plane has to be painted white...or another colour. Concorde had to be finished in a special, highly reflective white paint to mitigate the extreme heating effects that friction caused at mach 2. [It] reaches 127° C at the nose and trailing edge, but the special ‘high-reflectivity’ white paint helps reflect and radiate ...


18

Two reasons for white I've been told many times are: white paint is cheaper than other colours (either because it costs less and/or weighs less) white makes it easier to apply names and logos of other companies when leasing your aircraft to someone else. Saves a trip to the paint shop, instead you just apply stickers. Both make sense, but whether they're ...


16

As always, it depends. From what I've seen and read, it's usually redone every 5-10 years. This can vary on various factors from paintshop availability, to new color scheme rollout, to deterioration of the previous one due to bad painting, to quality of the paint used. Sometimes, special liveries are just an aviation specific sticker that's put onto an ...


16

Concorde's average skin temperature was 92°C (365K). Calculating the black body radiation using the Stefan Boltzmann law we get 1006W/m². This the maximum heat flux possible with perfect radiation, and very similar to the heat flux of solar radiation, which is also about 1kW/m² at the earth's surface in the absence of clouds (and a bit higher at Concorde's ...


15

It is a military C-17 of the Qatar Air Force, one of the four in operation. It is in this livery as it is being operated by the Qatar Amiri Flight, a VIP airline owned and operated by the government of Qatar. The vast majority of the Qatar Amiri Flight fleet is painted in the standard livery of Qatar Airways, like this A340 below. The aircraft is only ...


15

Official airplane of Democratic Republic of Congo Today, the Democratic Republic of Congo uses a B707-138B, registered 9Q-CLK: LK for Laurent Kabila. Laurent Kabila has been Congo's President until his assassination (he was succeeded by his son). This is an airplane with a long history (and some controversy). She has now 707 painted on the tail, but not ...


15

Not to be a smart-ass, but I think the correct answer is "in accordance with the airframe manufacturer's instructions." Aircraft are generally given a corrosion protective layer (or passivated) at the time of manufacture that usually gives them a green color before they are painted. For this reason, unpainted planes are sometimes called "green" planes. ...


13

In general, the aircraft owners can paint the aircraft whichever the way they want. However, changing of aircraft liveries comes under refinishing of decorative coatings has to be done by certified personnel as it is considered major maintenance. The materials used should comply to the applicable safety regulations.


13

Yes, paint imposes a significant weight penalty on larger aircraft. On commercial airliners, that weight translates to a reduction in cargo, passenger and fuel carrying capacity, and that means less money to be made on every flight. That is why some airlines have chosen to remove most of the paint and opt for the bare-metal look. However, there are tradeoffs ...


13

The time needed to apply and remove the advertisements would cost too much money. As long as the aircraft is on the ground, it cannot earn revenue. Better to forgo the small profits from ads for larger profits from operating the aircraft.


11

According to WallStreetJournal article, Tom Horton stated in an interview that : A 777 paint job can cost \$100,000 to \$200,000, depending on the number of colors involved, and a smaller Airbus A320 can cost $50,000 or more.


11

White makes it easier to spot another plane in the air, since white shows up well against the ground. This is why many early planes were colored on the bottom half and white/silver for the rest. Of course, this matters much less with modern IFR equipment and doesn't matter really at all with high-altitude jets, but old habits die hard, I guess.


10

Another minor reason is that white color protects from adverse radiation better. In regards to nuclear bombers this is called 'anti flash white', though regular planes flying at high altitudes supposedly benefit from this as well.


9

It is for military use. As you can see from your photo, the registration code is "MAB" and this site links that aircraft to the Qatar Emiri Air Force: Current fleet: A7-MAA A7-MAB A7-MAC A7-MAE


9

I work for a printing company. Think of this - why everything is printed mostly in black ink? why not navy blue, or dark hunter green? Because black is a stock color. The manufacturer stocks it, and uses it left and right. Most other colors have to be a special order - this comes with increased costs, lead times and paint expiration. If you did not use ...


9

Originally (way back before radar) the colors had a practical use for maintaining visual separation between planes, which was done by pilots looking for the other planes with their eyes: Dark underbelly: Easier to see from below against bright clouds or sky. Light top-body: Easier to see from above against (typically) dark ground. The idea being that when ...


9

Contrary to voretaq7's highly upvoted answer, the green coating in your first image is NOT a primer. It's a spray-on plastic protective coating usually referred to as "Temporary Protective Coating (TPC)". This is used primarily as a barrier to oxidation, as there is a very thin layer of very pure aluminum on the exterior surface of the skin. During some of ...


9

Most of the above reasons are valid. I worked at Eastern airlines and we switched from the white/blue livery to polished aluminum because the weight/drag reduction vs. increased manpower cost still was overall cost effective. Remember a 747 uses around 90 gallons of paint weighing in the vicinity of 550 pounds.


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