why planes are painted white

This is the scientific reason why planes are painted white

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • So fresh and so clean

    Just as sun damage causes problems for our skin, it also wreaks havoc on airplanes. To circumvent that, a lot of planes are actually painted white in order to diminish the effects of those pesky rays – which can be pretty fierce when you’re sailing above the clouds.

    ‘It’s basically like putting sunblock on,’ John Hansman, an MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics professor, told Business Insider.

    The white paint reflects sunlight and solar radiation, which helps to keep the airline cool after hours of UV. Since some parts of a plane are made from composite materials like plastic, they can be more susceptible to damage and are generally the lightest part of the plane. Other colours including red and blue are more likely to absorb light and cause the plane to heat up, so a reflective white also helps save on cooling costs which can start to rack up.

    If your plane is painted white, it’s also much easier to spot dangerous oil spills or cracks within the hull of the vehicle. And on the same note, a white plane is much more visible, easy to see against the blue or midnight sky.

    Another non-scientific reason is that white paint is just cheaper all around. Unlike other bright colours, when white paint fades it isn’t nearly as noticeable and cuts down on the number of times you need to repaint a vehicle. On top of that, white paint generally costs less than other colours and is also a lot lighter because of the way it’s formulated (which can drive up power costs).

    White planes are also a lot easier to put branding on and once airlines have had enough of them, neutral white vehicles are much easier to sell/rent than coloured ones. It’s all very economic.

    Reading now

    Popular Life stories