Jag_cz/ShutterstockIt’s one of those things you really don’t give a second thought, something that blends right into the scenery. It’s almost always a given; the Yankees wear pinstripes, the pope is Catholic, and airplanes are, for the most part, white.
But the color choice has some very sound logic behind it. Business Insider dove into the scientific rationale behind the paint color most favored by planes, with the help of John Hansman, a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronauctics at MIT.
“The main reason why aircraft are painted white or light colors is to reflect sunlight and minimize both the heating and potential damage from solar radiation,” Hansman says, “It’s basically the same as putting sun block on.” (This U.S. city is painting its streets white for the very same reason.)
This helps airlines keep the cooling costs lower within the cabin, but also serves to protect certain parts of the plane that are more susceptible to heat damage. Hansman explains that the nosecone of the plane in particular needs the extra temperature advantage, because it’s made of composite material (usually plastic). This section can’t be made out of metal like the fuselage because it houses the plane’s radar and needs to be transparent so the device can operate effectively. (These are 10 other airplane facts you’ve always been curious about.)
Additionally, a 2011 study published in Human-Wildlife Interactions found that the paint job does make a difference to birds, “this finding suggests that a whiter fuselage would stand out more against the sky from the perspective of the avian visual system.” According to the NY Daily News, approximately $600 million dollars worth of damage is caused to planes by birds each year.
There you have it: Planes are white so that they don’t roast or collide with birds. With that settled, why are barns painted red?
[Source: Business Insider]