Why Are Most Planes Painted White? There’s A Great Explanation

When it comes to planes, color makes a difference

Like most of us, you’ve probably never really thought about why most airplanes are painted white. Aside from the bold blue Southwest Airlines planes, few others stand out among a crowd at the airport. But there’s actually a couple of solid reasons why this is the case.

For starters, having a white plane will help protect you from the sun. How? The white plane reflects the sun.

“It’s basically the same as putting sunblock on,” MIT Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics R. John Hansman told Tech Insider.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Blocking the sun will allow for the cabin to remain at a cooler temperature. So, if you’re wondering why you almost always feel as though you need a sweater when you’re flying, this is likely a huge part of the reason why.

Secondly, the white color makes it super easy to spot any inconsistencies in the plane. If there’s a crack or a leak of some kind, it will likely be much easier to find along a white surface. So, this is a crucial part for your safety. Not minding the boring white planes most airlines have to offer right about now, are you?

The final reason has a lot to do with costs. Not for the customer, but for the airline itself. You see, white paint is cheaper than other alternatives, and since your paint color will fade over time anyways, going with white means fewer touch-ups along the way—saving the air carrier money.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, it can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 to paint a plane, depending on the colors used and size of the aircraft.

In terms of resale value—not that this is an issue for most—it’s easier to sell a plane that’s already white and won’t require a paint job from the new owner.

That all seems practical enough.

Anytime the airline is saving money, there’s a good chance it’s saving the customers money, too. So, we’re all for the idea of white planes and lower maintenance costs. Anytime you can save on flying, it’s a win.