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Here's Why Almost All the Planes in the Sky are White in Colour

By: Arjit Garg

News18.com

Last Updated: October 21, 2019, 09:13 IST

People watch an Airbus A380 passenger plane take off for a presentation flight at the ILA International Air Show in Schoenefeld south of Berlin. (Image: Reuters)

People watch an Airbus A380 passenger plane take off for a presentation flight at the ILA International Air Show in Schoenefeld south of Berlin. (Image: Reuters)

Most of the planes we see are white in colour and there are scientific and economical reasons behind it.

White is the globally best-selling colour in the cars and the resale value has a lot to do with it. White is also the bestselling colour in the airplanes. As weird as it may sound, resale is one of the reasons why 99.9 percent of the planes you see in the sky (or ground) are always white, with minimal livery to differentiate the brands. But there are various reasons why White is the most preferred colour by flight operators and Science and Economics have a lot to do with it. Here’s a list:

Access Heating

The main reason why every other plane is white has a lot to do with Thermal science. As per the basic science we have read in school, white colour reflects the sunlight, hence reducing the temperature inside the cabin, which in return results in lesser usage of fuel in cooling the craft, hence more fuel saving. Also, white colour shields the plane's plastic parts including the nose cone and composite materials from the sun, which can be a big safety hazard otherwise.

Economical

The next big reason for airlines to opt for white aircrafts over other colours is the fact that white is the most economical paint. An average size single aisle airplane like the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 uses 65 gallons (245 litre) of paint for a single coat. Also, airplanes need periodic maintenance to maintain the glossy effect which in turn improves aerodynamics. So it’s wise to use the cheapest and easy to maintain colour, which turns out to be white.

Lesser Bird Strikes

It may sound odd, but studies have shown that bird strikes are lesser in white coloured paint. Bird strike is the biggest fear for any airline and pilot and put the lives of hundreds of passengers at risk. While many steps are taken to reduce bird strikes, it can’t be fully avoided. A study published in Human-Wildlife Interactions said that birds appreciate a bright white plane in the sky as the feathered animals can pick white planes easily as compared to blue, red coloured planes.

Easy on Eye

During takeoff and landing, air hostesses asks passengers to open the window flap. That’s a standard procedure to maximize safety as most of the air accidents takes place during takeoff and landing and pilot alone can’t see the whole plane. The idea, then is, that passengers will report any safety hazard if they spot one. Guess what, the white paint helps humans visually too and it’s easy to spot cracks, sparks on the white surfaces.

Resale Value

Lastly the resale value. The airline industry works on lease model and airline carriers don’t directly buy the aircrafts from companies like Airbus or Boeing. It has been seen that white planes sell quicker than colored or unpainted planes. Buyers prefer unmarked, without livery white planes so that they can customize accordingly.

first published:October 20, 2019, 08:59 IST
last updated:October 21, 2019, 09:13 IST
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