Re: Why are all airliners white?

Date:         05 Sep 97 17:27:24 
From:         Bill Chivers <>
Organization: Chivers Consultants
References:   1 2
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In article <airliners.1997.1886@ohare.Chicago.COM>, Karl Swartz <kls@ohare.Chicago.COM> writes
>As a side benefit, the mostly white schemes are easier to see, so
>there is a safety factor, though the existence of many non-white
>schemes suggests this is not a significant consideration.

Recent research suggests that darker paint schemes are easier to see.
Since the human eye spots things by shape and contrast, trying to
contrast with a (usually) bright background (the sky) by having a bright
paint scheme is pretty much a waste of time.

Black, on the other hand, usually cause a good contrast with the

A result of this is the the RAF has now adopted black paint scemes for
its training aircraft (UK posters may have noticed black Hawks and
Tucanos over the last couple of years).

By way of another example, some of the exotic paint scemes you see on
aircraft these days actually seem to work as 'dazzle' camoflage, i.e.
the natural shape of the aircraft is broken up, making it difficult to
spot. As a specific example of this I was surprised to see a BA
aeroplane the other day which for a couple of seconds appeared to have
no fin! Then I realised it was one of the infamous new paint jobs!

Since I know most subsribers to this group like a definitive reference,
rather than an unsupported claim, I will try and find the actual study
which supports my original claim above. If memory serves, it was done by
the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine.

regards all

Bill Chivers
'my other signature file has something funny at the bottom of it'