Re: Why are ailiners white? Old vs. New

Date:         01 Oct 97 19:57:49 
From: (Bizfixer)
Organization: AOL
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<<Why are airliners painted white?>>

As some posters have hinted, airliner paint has to do with heat issues.

Originally, jet airliners were painted white - or unpainted (second
choice, but saving weight/fuel) - because of GROUND considerations.  Early
jets did not have APUs and relied on ground airconditioning-heating units
for passenger compartment comfort levels.  A transport aircraft sitting in
high Northern hemisphere (e.g., FRA) at 70 degrees F could reach cabin
temperatures of over 100 F in a little over an hour.  (Imagine what would
happen in Rio, Dakar or Bombay!)   Early air-duct systems did not allow
enough airflow from ground units to overcome this;  fuel was cheap, and
white paint was a big help.

Early APU's were also inadequate for anything over 45 minutes on the
ground, and ground units continued to be used to supplement them for longer
ground stays (overnights, long turn-arounds, etc.).

Even today, ground units are sometimes  used to supplement APU's for
widebody support when long stays in the sun are necessary.

It is a lot less important today, however, and paint jobs are now much
more in the domain of marketing that engineering.  Any paint is expensive
and  extracts a weight penalty.  There is ongoing argument over the
relative maintenance costs of painted vs. unpainted aircraft (some of which
are simply dependent on incumbent maintenance facilities).

>From the flight safety standpoint, there is no question but what darker
colors are more visible than light colors, of which white is the worst
(even true in automobile accident statistics!).

Military considerations are entirely different, and have nothing to do
with commercial A/L considerations.

For what it's worth.