Why are most airplanes painted white?


Nearly half of the passenger airplanes flying today are leased by the airlines from big plane leasing companies.

Maybe you have noticed it already or maybe you haven’t. If you haven’t, just think about it. The vast majority of all airplanes you have ever seen in real life, movies, or television are almost always white, isn’t it? Interesting question.

Of course, some of them come with stripes, decorations, or names in different colors, but the base color is always white – at least in the case of the vast majority of the big ones.

There are multiple reasons behind it – all quiet and subtle. But all of them make a major impact one way or the other:

1- Thermal advantage

White Aircraft

White is a pretty outstanding reflector of light and it reflects all the wavelengths of sunlight that falls on it. Any aircraft painted with a color other than white will absorb at least certain wavelengths of sunlight, causing the plane to heat up over time.

As a matter of fact, some planes are mandatorily required to have a base coating of white paint to ensure a structurally sound body.

2- Easier detection of faults and damages

Airbus A380

For obvious safety reasons, all airplanes are mandatorily required to undergo regular inspections for any fault or damage in the body (e.g. cracks, dents, etc.).

Painting the outer body in white makes it incredibly easier to spot any issue with the structural integrity that could potentially sabotage the safety of the flying machine and the people in it. That’s because any crack or physical damage is bound to be always darker than white.

In addition, white also makes it easier to detect corrosion and oil leakage

3- White is easier to spot in case of a crash


In the event of a crash or any other mishap that might involve rescue work, white makes it easier for the rescue teams to spot the plane or its debris – especially at nights or in the sea or ocean.

4- White paints are cheaper


Okay – it’s not a scientific explanation and it gives people scope for a heated Internet argument. But if you think logically, white paints generally tend to be cheaper and more easily available.

Note that painting an airplane is a huge investment and of course the price of the paint does play a role – especially when the cheaper and more readily available paint has multiple other benefits associated with it.

5. White doesn’t fade.


An average airliner will have several paint jobs during its service life, but the longer you can go between having to repaint the plane the better, and if you don’t have to worry about the paint fading and looking old for a good long while you can stretch the time between paint jobs without having your passengers start making snide comments about your fleet of flying hoopties.

In addition, it is easier for companies to inscribe their logos onto the body with the plain background comprising mostly white.

Did you guess one or more of these answers? Do let us know in the comments below.