Aircraft livery

Aircraft livery
ATA Airlines Boeing 757-200 (N520AT) and Boeing 727-200 (N772AT) in the 25th Commemorative Anniversary livery at Midway Airport
Livery for the heavy metal band Iron Maiden in 2008, on a Boeing 757 of Astreus leased to Iron Maiden

Aircraft livery is a paint scheme applied to an aircraft, generally to fuselage, wings, empennage (tail fin), or jet engines. Most airlines have a standard paint scheme for their aircraft fleet, usually prominently displaying the airline logo or name. From time to time special liveries are introduced, for example prior to big events. The term is derived from the more general term livery.


Types of aircraft livery

Douglas DC-8 of ONA Overseas National Airways in its tribute to the U.S.A.'s Bicentennial Commemorative livery at Zurich in 1975

Heritage or retrojet

Heritage or retrojet livery is a livery that an airline has used in the past (apart from any modern livery used by an airline). Aircraft in a heritage or retrojet livery is called heritage aircraft.


A cheatline is decorative, horizontal, single or multiple, bands of color applied to both sides of a fuselage.


SkyWest Airlines celebrates its 30th anniversary. Notice red and blue untraditional "wavy" cheatline along the fuselage compared to the more traditional linear cheatline of American Eagle (MQ) regional jet plane in the background.

Commemorative liveries are one off paint schemes applied by airlines to celebrate a milestone in their history. One such example would be ATA Airlines 25th anniversary paint scheme, celebrating the airline's inception under George Mikelson, the founder of American Trans Air,[1] or SkyWest Airlines paint scheme used to commemorate 30th anniversary of that airline.

Jelly Bean

A PLUNA Bombardier CRJ900 taxiing at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. (2011), with a Jelly Bean livery

The most notable "Jelly Bean" livery used among North America airlines is the design concept introduced by Braniff International Airlines in November 1965, as part of their "End of the Plain Plane" campaign: there were 7 different, solid-colored schemes featuring pastel colors on the fuselage, white wings and tail, and formal black titles and nose.

A slight variant of the "Jelly Bean" concept is the Jelly Tails of JetBlue Airways, Mexicana, Frontier Airlines, and Air-India Express. These liveries are characterized by the vertical stabilizer and sometimes aft fuselage being painted in multiple designs, as is the case with British Airways' short lived Newell and Sorrell World Tails design. PLUNA of Uruguay is one of the most recent airlines to adopt this attractive and colorful corporate imagery.

Close-up of the tail of one of Frontier's newest Airbus A318s, N809FR. This aircraft, features "Spike" the Porcupine.

Airlines often apply and paint specialized liveries to their standard airline liveries and logos of their aircraft, examples being:

  • the logo of a sports team
  • images of a city, usually a hub or other city of importance to the airline
  • advertising for a company (logojet)

Southwest Airlines is famous for its various liveries promoting Sea World (painted to resemble an Orca), various US states where Southwest has operations (painted to resemble the states' flags), and other entities such as the NBA and the Ronald McDonald House.

Bare metal liveries


A Ukrainian Su-25 painted with earth colors on the top and sky color on the bottom

Military aircraft make use of aircraft camouflage to make the aircraft more difficult to see in the air and on the ground. This form of camouflage makes use of light and color patterns, and is dependent upon environmental conditions and is mainly effective against human observers, though some electronic visual acquisition systems can be affected. Visual camouflage does not protect an aircraft against radar location or heat-seeking electronics.

Aircraft camouflage was first used during World War I and was employed extensively during the first half of World War II. After radar detection systems were developed, aircraft camouflage became less important to the Allies, and a number of late-war Allied aircraft were brought to battle with no camouflage. Subsequent camouflage schemes, when used, concentrated on hiding the aircraft from aerial observation while it was resting on or flying near the ground, or they used a light, neutral color to inhibit detection while in the air. Modern camouflage schemes have experimented with light-emitting active camouflage systems which seek to conceal the aircraft from human vision or to blur or confuse optical observation by electronic means.[2]


Air transports of heads of state and government are often painted in unique colour schemes. The US President's aircraft, Air Force One, uses a light-blue and sky-blue color scheme, with the Seal of the President of the United States just above front gear and the flag of the United States on the tailfin designed by French-American industrial designer Raymond Loewy.[3]

An aircraft used to transport state or government leaders is often painted in a livery that represents national colors of a country or colors of a particular government office, and most of the time is coordinated with flag, seal and other insignia.

The Three "World Airline Alliances" Aircraft Liveries

Alliance liveries

Boeing 777-200ER (N791AN), in the new standard Oneworld livery

Three multinational worldwide airline alliances have grown and developed their own aircraft liveries and corporate identity which encompass and transcend major carriers, mainline carriers, legacy carriers and flag airlines individual airline identities along with any ties to regional, geopolitical, national boundaries, and government heritages.

Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance are the mutually agreed upon "airline alliance liveries" of large numbers of independent and separately owned airlines working together as one through a system of codeshare agreements, rather than the colors of any one certificated airline.

Unlike the other airline alliance consortium members, Oneworld will retain the "jellytail" airline logo markings of their individual airline alliance partner members upon each member airlines vertical stabilizer.

See also


  1. ^ N772AT Priceless Memories
  2. ^ Shaw, Robert (1985). Fighter combat: tactics and maneuvering. Naval Institute Press. p. 55. ISBN 0870210599. 
  3. ^ Walsh, Kenneth T. Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes. New York: Hyperion: 2003. ISBN 1-4013-0004-9.

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