Post 11: Why are airplanes mostly white?

You’ve probably seen hundreds of airplanes but never stumbled upon wondering why they are almost always white. weird right? Read on to know why airline companies paint their planes white.

1. It’s expensive.

Starting with a rather obvious one. Painting planes with other colours or decoratively is extremely expensive. It can cost anywhere between 50,000 USD to 250,000 USD, which compared to the benefits of painting is not worth the money.

2. It’s a waste of time.

In the airline business, time is extremely valuable. More than often airplanes used by airline companies are brought on a lease, painting them will take up to 3-4 weeks. That is a LOT of business lost.

3. Painting increases the weight of the airplane.

You know how lighter cars use up fewer amounts of fuel? Same goes for airplanes. Baggage checks will soon make sense to you. Painting planes can add more than 200 kgs ( or 440.925 pounds in retard unit) to the weight of the plane.

Case Study: EasyJets repainted their planes with a thinner and more aerodynamic paint which resulted in saving of 2% of their total operational costs.

Let’s get things in perspective here, EasyJet then had an annual fuel bill of 1.2 billion USD, lighter paint saves them 22.4 million USD annually.

With that much money, you can buy a beach like this every year.


4. Thermal advantage.

Everyone knows that white reflects all wavelengths of light and doesn’t absorb anything, this results in cooler cabins.

5. Better visibility.

White planes show cracks, oil leaks etc easily. Also, in the event of a crash, it’s easier to spot a white plane on land/water.

6. Better Resale Value.

If you want to resell the plane, it will fetch less money if the new buyer has to repaint over it. The airliners which purchase brand new planes instead of leasing are almost always purchasing by using huge long term loans. This is a huge investment in a competitive market. They may themselves want to sell or lease their planes if things don’t go well.

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“Why are airplanes mostly white?” by Ayush Agrawal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at