Re: I saw it!!! (New Ua 747-400)

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Date:         26 Jan 93 23:47:11 PST
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[Note that followups have been directed to rec.travel.air, which seems
about the most likely home for discussions about paint schemes and the
like.  Any *technical* comments about all this are quite welcome in
sci.aeronautics.airliners -- please edit the newsgroup of any posts as
appropriate.]

Tonight I saw a 757-222 at LAX (N573UA) in the new, "malevolent skies"
scheme.  Hard to tell for sure as it was not well lit, but the grey
did not seem as dark as I had expected.

One thing that *did* strike me is how complex the painting must be of
the tail with those stripes.  Sounds expensive -- railroads used to
use stripes liberally for safety reasons until they started thinking
about the cost of masking it all and simplified the schemes.  Today
what few stripes are left are on easy-to-mask surfaces.

Anyway, getting back to airliners, it seems to me that the all-white
"color scheme" so popular in recent years has the decided advantage of
being cheap.  While a scheme like United's new one may be different,
is it really cost effective?!  To add to the expense, the old one had
five colors and the new has at least seven.  This does not sound like
a brilliant move at a time when they're cutting both deliveries and
personnel; unlike Air India, with what must be the world's most
expensive paint scheme with its intricate decorations around each
window (at least on early 747s), United tries to turn a profit.

Of course there's also the expense of paint at all.  This seems a hot
debate -- the stuff adds weight (something like half a ton for a 747
as I recall) and hides cracks (which was disussed in detail during the
analysis of the Aloha 737 incident a few years ago), but on the other
hand it helps protect surfaces from corrosion and the like, and in
particular I believe Airbus insisted on paint on the non-aluminum
sections of American's A300-600Rs.  (An increasingly significant
amount of composites are appearing -- except for early A300s the
entire vertical stabilizer of all Airbus models is made from composite
materials.)

One other factor in favor of paint may be found in a comment I read
long ago on rec.aviation, namely that aircraft which were going to go
unpainted mere manufactured with slightly thicker aluminum in the
skins.  I find this a bit hard to believe, and the fact that airlines
such as Eastern went from paint to no paint suggests it isn't all that
necessary, though I don't have any hard evidence.