Why Are Aircraft White? 8 Reasons Why

While you may think most private jet owners want to be flashy and stand out from the crowd, you can’t help to notice one small thing their aircraft all have in common: the color.

You may realize that most aircraft are white – “Matterhorn White” to be exact.

While private jets can be fully customized inside and out to include anything the owner’s heart desires, you may wonder, why do they all tend to be white?

In truth, when aircraft come off the manufacturer’s assembly line, they are usually green (due to their undercoat of zinc phosphate primer), so they’re not even white by default.

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So why are so many aircraft white? Here are some reasons why:

1) Thermal Advantages

White is a terrific reflector of sunlight, and reflects almost all the light that falls on it – unlike other colors, which absorb some of the rays.

This means the cabin stays cooler, which can be a particular advantage on the runway in hot climates. And while it’s not widely the case, some airframes require the use of white paint on upper surfaces, to maintain their airframe temperature limits.

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A white aircraft makes the perfect blank canvas for branding. Image: Cessna.

2) Blank Canvas

There’s no better base color to show off a company logo. An expanse of white fuselage makes a great blank canvas for the owners or manufacturer’s marketing efforts.

Some aircraft manufacturers, airlines, or owners do look at the whole aircraft as a marketing opportunity.

HondaJet fleet

The new Hondajet uses bigger sections of color to differentiate itself.

Honda uses bold sections of color to illustrate Hondajet‘s point of difference to other small jets (but hasn’t given up on white altogether). And a colorfully branded aircraft makes the ultimate flying poster site for many movie launches, music tours, and corporate trade shows.

3) Higher Resale Value

White aircraft tend to have a better resale value than their colorful counterparts. With a white canvas, a new owner can easily have small sections painted in their livery, rather than having to invest much more money in a new all-over paint job.

The same goes for rental or charter. A charter aircraft painted in a neutral and discreet way will have more demand than a distinctive one.

Many private jet owners make their aircraft available for private charter when they’re not using it, and want to balance making the jet attractive to charter customers as well as to their own taste. Charter is a way of offsetting some of the significant costs of owning your own aircraft.

4) Bright White

White paint ages better than most other colors. Being exposed to sunlight at high altitudes can take its toll on deeper colors, but white doesn’t fade.

Global 7000 on runway

Crisp, clean white lasts longer than more elaborately painted designs.

So a white aircraft may need to be repainted every four years, rather than every two for their colorful counterparts. When you’re paying between $100,000 and $350,000 for a repaint, that’s a big consideration.

5) Nothing to Hide

While fading isn’t a safety consideration, other deterioration such as cracking or oil leaks certainly is. And on a white surface these have nowhere to hide. That’s a big advantage to maintenance and safety as these cracks or leaks are easier to spot early on – before they cause real problems.

Tornado fighter jets

Military aircraft, such as Tornado jets, are usually painted in greens or grays, so they are less visible in the sky.

White may be harder to keep clean, but keeping the aircraft clean is more fuel-efficient as dirt adds drag.

6) Visual Impact

A white aircraft is more easily spotted at night and in the sky. That’s why military planes – which conversely don’t want to be spotted in the sky – are rarely white and usually come in camouflage colors of grey, green, or blue.

7) Cost

Due to its popularity, white aircraft paint is more widely available and less expensive than other colors.

Depending on the size of the aircraft, a custom paint make-over can cost upwards of $50,000, if not in the hundreds of thousands.

8) Tradition

People have deep (and often subconscious) feelings about color. Research has shown that most passengers feel more comfortable and secure flying in a traditional white aircraft.

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Quintessential white.

For personalized pricing and advice for your next private charter flight, contact us online or call our Flight Team (24 hrs) at (866) 726-1222.