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Why are most aircraft white?

Why are most aircraft white? Blog

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Most aircraft are white. Here are 7 surprising reasons why.

White reflects

What do you wear on a summer day? Usually not a black t-shirt, right? Because then you'll be sweating yourself dry in no time. It works the same way with aeroplanes.

Aeroplanes are much more in the sun than we are. After all, they fly above the clouds. The white colour keeps the heat out in the air and on the ground.

White does not fade

Any colour other than white will lose pigment under the influence of the sun. This process is called oxidation. Eventually, every other colour will turn white again on its own.

Since nobody wants to board an aeroplane that looks old, the airline keeps on painting. Quite an expensive hobby.

White stands out better

White contrasts better with blue skies and the ground. So you can see a white aeroplane better in the sky and on the ground. Unless it has been snowing, of course. This also applies to birds, of course. It also seems to be the case that birds see the aeroplanes coming better when they are white.

White is cheaper

White paint contains much less or no pigments. That makes it much cheaper to make. Because the ratio of pigments for a different colour has to be exactly right. It shouldn't be too much and not too little.

You can see everything on white

Like cracks and damage. That doesn't sound nice, but it makes life a lot easier for the maintenance people.

You get stuck with a white one, don't you?

Apparently not! White is a very common colour for aircraft. Especially because every airline can use it. It is easier to repaint. We are not very much into selling second-hand airliners, but this one is hearsay.

True or false?

And the same goes for the last one. This one is from the category of bubbling talk. Whether it is true or not, we do not know. But if it is true, then it deserves an honourable mention.

It is said that dark planes are heavier because of the pigment in the paint. An aeroplane easily holds 250 kg of paint. That's three adults. If you were to save a couple of percent, that would already make a difference.

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About Eveline van den Boom

The author of this article is Eveline van den Boom. In 2006, she received her first flying lesson as a birthday present; a beautiful flight over Rotterdam. That tasted like more!

In 2010, she got her PPL licence in Lelystad. In 2011, an aircraft was purchased: an Aero AT-3. This aircraft is still flying in the fleet with callsign PH-EVB.

She wrote the theory books "Theory of Flying" and "Theory helicopter flying". These can be ordered with your flying lesson and are also separately for sale on

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