Reasons Why Most Planes are Painted White

Flex Air Aircraft, Travel

You might have wondered why a majority of airplanes are painted white. Believe it or not, there are a few really interesting reasons why this is done. Some would wonder why we bother painting airplanes in the first place. However, an unpainted plane would leave the aircraft unprotected and exposed to harsh weather conditions. Among those reasonings, there are some for safety purposes while others are economical.

Climate Control

Much like cars and clothes, the darker the color, the more sunlight and heat it absorbs. White paint allows sunlight to reflect off of it instead of being absorbed. This makes the cooling costs decrease for airlines.


One airplane takes an average of 65 gallons of paint and about two to seven days. Decorative painting can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. The time and effort that have to go into decorative painting will cause a loss of revenue. Paint adds between 600 to 1,200 lbs of weight to the aircraft as well, thus costing more in fuel to fly.

Fading Purposes

When flying at high altitudes, airplanes are exposed to various atmospheric conditions. Over time, the paint on colored airplanes will oxidize and fade. It may maintain an aesthetic appeal, but a lot of upkeep is required.

Resale Purposes

Because of the required upkeep of colored airplanes, they do not hold their value very well. Someone looking to buy an airplane would be more likely to pay less for a colorful plane.

Damage Control

Much like a car, it is easier to spot cracks, dents, scratches, and oil spills with a white vehicle. This allows the aircraft to remain repaired and in excellent condition. It is also easier to clean with a painted finish.

Search and Rescue

In the case of an unfortunate event, a white fuselage is easier to see from the air. For example, search and rescue would have a difficult time finding a plane in the forest if it is painted green.


Typically, you would think this reasoning is ridiculous. However, according to a U.S. study, bird strike rates are more likely to happen with a darker or colored fuselage. The white reflects the sun allowing birds the opportunity to see the aircraft and fly away.