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How Do Airports Get Their Name?

Airports get assigned their names based on a worldwide international standard. They are assigned a 4-letter code for aviation use but the airport property is often called a more passenger-friendly name usually common to its city location or a famous, historical person from the area.

Airports fall under 2 types:

  • Civil airports
  • Military airports
  • and their naming comes from two different sources…

Military airport names are given by the country/forces whereas civil airport names are allotted by the aviation governing authority of that country and that name has to be approved by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization).

When we talk about airport naming, a commercial airport (used by airlines) is usually denoted by 3 means:

  1. Commercial name
  2. ICAO Name
  3. IATA Name

How Do Airports Get a Commercial Airport Name?

This is the name all passengers refer to the airport to. The airport’s commercial name is usually decided behind some historic place, city, person, etc. For Example, John F. Kennedy International Airport, also known as JFK International, is situated in New York. People may mention it as New York International Airport or via its name (JFK).

Los Angeles Airport doesn’t have any commercial name as such and is referred to as Los Angeles International Airport. The airport in Toronto, Canada is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Canada Lester B. Pearson and so are the other airports all around the world. 

Usually, there are public emotions attached to this name and it is not changed. These names have to be sent to the respective aviation governing authority to be recognized internationally.

How Do Airports Get an ICAO Airport Name?

ICAO: International Civil Aviation Organisation – is an organization that lays down the standard to be followed for anything related to Civil Aviation. From the minimum requirements of aircraft operating standards, maintenance standards, and airport requirements to provisions related to naming airports is given by ICAO.

ICAO has given a specific format for naming or coding airports all over the world. 

ICAO airport codes are mainly used for operational purposes and for standardization. No two airports can have the same ICAO airport code.

First, let us discuss the format in which ICAO airport codes are formed and then understand it with a few examples:

  1. ICAO airport code also known as location indicator consists of 4 letters.
  2. The first letter in the location indicator is the AFSRA code of that area

AFSRA: Aeronautical Fixed Service Routing Area – There are 22 AFSRA codes (alphabets) distributed all over the globe. For Example, the  AFSRA code for Canada is “C”, for the USA is “K”, and in South America its “S”. So all airports in the USA approved by ICAO for civil aviation will have a location Indicator starting with “K”

  1. The second letter in the location indicator is the area or region code. This can be the same for 2 different airports, as there can be multiple airports in the same region. This code can be the same for 2 different countries too. Let’s say an area in Canada will have the letter “A” for area designation and the USA also allot the letter “A”. Still, that will be accepted as the AFSRA decides the country, and then the area code is used. But this area code can not be repeated for multiple areas in the same AFSRA.
  2. The 3rd and 4th letters are the airport code. It can be anything based on the commercial airport name or can be allotted by the aviation authority. The 3rd and 4th letters cannot be the same for 2 airports in the same region of the same AFSRA. For example, an airport in Canada and in the USA can have the same 3rd and 4th letters, but just not in the same region of the same country.

Now let’s understand the above format with a few examples : 

CYYZ: The location indicator says that this airport is in Canada, Toronto Airport.

CYVR: Located in Canada, Vancouver.

KSEA: Located in the USA, Area code “S”, airport code “EA”, Seattle airport.

KLAX: Located in the USA, Area code “L”, airport code “AX”, Los Angeles airport.

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How Do Airports Get an IATA Airport Name?

International Air Transport Association, is another organization under the United Nations taking care of Civil Aviation. Airlines follow IATA codes for printing airport from/to names on the tickets, and boarding passes, and the cargo agents use IATA names. 

IATA codes are of 3 letters, prominent to the airport name, like LAX for Los Angeles. DEL for Delhi. These names are easy to identify, unlike ICAO. Hence we can say that purpose of the ICAO location Indicator is primarily for operational basis, used by pilots, ATC, and dispatch; whereas the IATA name is mainly used on documents for easy identification.

Does Every Airport Have a Code?

Every airport/ airstrip will have a common name that all pilots may refer to but need not necessarily have ICAO or IATA name. It is just mandatory for ICAO contracting states to have ICAO and IATA names for airports used in civil aviation.

Talking about the size, with naming; any airport can qualify for approval of ICAO codes, it’s just the authority needs to mention the size of the runway, taxiways, apron, and the approved aircraft for operations on that airfield.

Below is the list of a few AFSRA based on countries:

C- Canada

E- Europe

F- Central and South Africa


O- Middle East

R- West Pacific Area

S- South America

V- East and West Asia

W- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern South East Asia

Y- Australia

Z- China

How Do Airports Get an ICAO Code?

Usually, the airport is first constructed and made operational ready with a basic commercial name, with which everyone refers, like – IGI international airport, Delhi. Then the airport authority allots the 3rd and 4th letters and combines them with the AFSA and area code, to make 4 letter location indicator. 

Once ready, the airport authority or the aviation governing authority requests approval from ICAO and IATA for associated codes, and when approved, these location indicators can be published on various aviation charts and publications.

In case the code matches with other airports of the same area or the Organisation feels that the code can form some confusion on an operational basis which may hamper safety, in that case, the organization asks the airport authority to change the code formation with suitable requirements. ICAO/IATA codes can be changed or deregistered based on the request made by the airport authority.

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Can Airplane Windows Break?

Airplane windows can and do break. Incidents with airplane windows breaking are really common and can be dealt with relatively easily as long as the aircraft is below 10,000 feet where pressurization does not pose any problems or danger to the passengers. Pilots are trained to deal with such emergencies.

So if they break so often, here are some of the most common questions…

When Do Airplane Windows Tend to Break the Most?

The most usual time for an airplane window to break is on take-off or after take-off if it comes in contact with a foreign object. This can either be a small rock, debris from a vehicle or another aircraft or, the most common reason is a bird strike.

Birds pose a big threat to aircraft and are most dangerous when the aircraft is in the takeoff run and during the climb up to 10,000 feet. Most bird strikes that resulted in an airplane window breaking or cracking were after takeoff up to 3,000 feet above the ground.

The combination of the aircraft’s high speed and the size and weight of the bird has resulted and will continue to result in the airplane’s windows breaking making it extremely uncomfortable and annoying for the pilots to land the plane back to safety.

This alone does not pose a big threat to pilots and can be dealt with as I said before in a relatively easy and very standardized manner. The difficulty is establishing communication with the other pilot as the sound is incredibly loud after a window breaks.

Can Cockpit Windows Inadvertently Open During Flight?

Besides breaking, the most common incidences involving windows is that if a pilot’s window is not closed and secured properly it can open during acceleration for take-off. This can result in the window’s hinges or the glass itself to shatter.

In most cases, and I am not proud to say in my case as well, the side window opened at around 100 knots on the takeoff roll and I was able to close it at 400 feet after putting the gear up.

No problems with the pressurization of the airplane occurred and the window and hinges were intact.

Apart from the sudden distraction, no matters of flight safety are affected due to the low altitude of the aircraft.

Once locked, cockpit windows are designed to stay locked and closed to prevent inadvertent opening leading to a sudden rapid decompression of the aircraft cabin.

As you can imagine, airplane windows are really robust and thick enough to withstand most bird strikes and Foreign Object Damage (FOD) which means that their production costs a lot of money.
Nevertheless, they do break. But when we say break, in most cases is not exactly what you imagine.

There’s no explosion or glass flying everywhere. Nine times out of ten, even in the most extreme cases the window just shatters and cracks but never breaks completely or flies off the aircraft.

Do Cabin Cabin Windows Break?

In general, the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft does not permit any object to strike the cabin windows while in flight. All bird strikes or debris impacts happen on the nose, wings, engines, and tailplane. The fuselage is pretty much impossible to hit while the aircraft is in flight.

Because of this, cabin windows do not have to withstand the impacts that the cockpit windows must take. If a cabin window were to crack it is usually from an object striking the window with the aircraft is parked.

Passengers are soon alerting the cabin crew to a broken window when they sit down, at which point the pilots are notified and another aircraft is usually exchanged to undertake the flight, while the window gets replaced.

What Can Cause Damage to Airplane Windows?

Apart from runway debris and birds severe hail stones are the third most common culprit of airplane window damage.

Aircraft often have to fly through severe thunderstorms during landing and departure, and usually without problems. One thing that occurs inside thunderstorms though is hail. Hail, in the mature stage of the thunderstorm and cumulonimbus clouds can reach up to 4″ (10 cm) in diameter and if an aircraft is hit by hail the damage to the cockpit windows can be severe.

Cockpit windows are designed not to break but will shatter and cause visibility problems for the pilots. The nose of the plane (where the weather radar is located) will be damaged way more than the window and it has to be replaced before the next flight. After flying through a severe hailstorm where the aircraft occurs damage it is often taken to a hanger for a full visual inspection to check for any other damage on the aircraft.

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Can a Passenger Open Their Window in the Cabin?

Absolutely not. Airplane cabin windows cannot be opened by anyone. Not even by certified engineers. Cabin windows are incorporated into the fuselage of the aircraft and have no mechanism to open. This is mainly due to operational reasons and also costs.

The only thing that a passenger can open in the cabin is the over-wing emergency exit only after clear instruction is received by the Captain in case of emergency. Passenger windows are sealed into the inside of the fuselage with rivets and sealant and are forced against the fuselage structure while the cabin is in flight due to pressurization.

It takes a team of specially trained personnel to remove and replace a cabin window as most last the lifetime of the aircraft.

How and When do Pilots Open the Windows?

Pilots only operate the cockpit windows on the ground and the main reasons why a pilot opens their window is for fresh air, hot weather or just to look outside and speak to the ground staff.

A common use for the window opening is communication with ground staff and the exchange of documents through the window in case the doors are already closed after boarding has been completed. This sounds like a small thing but actually reduces delays that could be caused if the doors had to be opened just for a document (Fuel receipt or dangerous goods declaration for example).

For the Boeing 737 800 series and the MAX there is a rotating lever that you pull inwards and then pull the window back.

To close the window there is a lever under the window that is only visible when the window is in the open position. First, you pull this lever, then pull the window upwards to the close position and rotate the rotating lever again until you hear a clicking sound. This ensures that the window is securely locked.

One extra use of the side window’s capability to open is for emergency use. If anything happens to the windows in the front (damage by hail or bird strike or anything else that degrades the visibility) the side windows can be opened so the pilot can literally stick their head out and see whether the aircraft is in the correct direction for landing. When on approach at 150knots this is not a comfortable experience but necessary if all the cockpit windows are broken.

Furthermore, the side cockpit windows can be opened for the pilots in case an evacuation is needed. In case the cockpit door cannot be opened due to fire or damage the pilots can use the emergency escape ropes to climb out of the windows to safety.

How Thick is an Airplane Window?

Airplane cockpit windows can be as much as 3 inches thick and side windows around 1″ thick. The forward-facing windows are designed to take high-speed object impacts and maintain their structural integrity. Each window is made up of layers similar to bulletproof glass.

Windows in the passenger cabin are less thick always as they don’t have to withstand heavy impacts and are not heated or have any technology in them. All aircraft cockpit windows are constructed in layers of impact-resistant glass with layers of plastic and UV ray protection in the inner layers.

Inside the aircraft cabin is a plastic window pane next to the passenger. A hole in the bottom side of this pane is placed so the pressure between the inside of the cabin and the layers of the window is equal. This prevents the plastic layer from breaking.

There is no ultraviolet radiation protection on passenger windows but there is a window blind available on all but the emergency exit windows to block out the sun or just for people to avoid looking outside.

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Passenger Space on Airplanes – All You Need To Know!

Airline seats are not created equal!

If you’re a seasoned traveler planning a trip by air, you are probably interested in booking flights on the most comfortable aircraft that you can. While this may not always be possible, sometimes you may be able to choose between a smaller regional jet or a mainline, full-size aircraft, when flying domestically. Narrowbody aircraft are now being flown on long-haul routes from coast-to-coast, and even between North America and Europe.

For example, given the choice, would you prefer to fly from New York to London on a two-aisle wide-body (8-10 seats across) where you can get up and stretch your legs while en route, or a single-aisle A321 (3 x 3 seating), where anytime you’re out of your seat, you are blocking the aisle?

The cabin’s width and layout can also be of prime importance when it comes to personal comfort. For example, a wide-body A330 features a seating configuration in economy of 2-4-2. This means that all passengers are never more than one seat away from an aisle, and there are no middle seats.

When flying on the A321 or Boeing 737MAX, both of which are configured 3-aisle-3, one-third of the seats on both aircraft are middle seats, and one-third of passengers who have a window seat will always have to climb past two adjacent passengers just to reach the aisle.

While the size of the aircraft cabin may not be critical to an ‘average’ size person, or someone who is shorter, it can make a major difference to a tall or wider traveler.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more popular aircraft, comparing their seat width, pitch (this means how much legroom you’ll have) – as well as aisle width. As you’ll see, interior cabin dimensions vary from airline to airline, aircraft type to aircraft type, and between various models of the same aircraft.

Since we all know that the First Class and Business Class cabins will be comfortable for nearly all travelers, with their wider, plusher seats, our research for this article focused on the various Economy Class configurations you may encounter on your next flight.

How Wide Are Airplane Seats?

The widest economy seats in the U.S. and Canada are offered by Jet Blue at 18.4″
The widest premium economy seats will be found on Air Canada at 20″, Delta at 18.5″ and American Airlines at 19″.

Most airline seats on the same aircraft type are very close to the same width. However, a difference of just a half-inch can make a real difference between feeling comfortable or squeezed in tight.

According to SeatGuru, a website that provides seat maps for scores of aircraft types being flown by airlines around the world, the narrowest seats aboard U.S. and Canadian airlines will be found on United, Southwest, and Sun Country Airlines.

How Much Legroom is there on Passenger Airplanes?

On average, legroom (pitch), ranges from 31 to 32 inches. However, some airlines, primarily ultra-low-fare carriers like Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant, and Sun Country are as tight as 27 inches; while others offer premium seat pitch as high as 35 inches.

This is an enormous differential, which can make for a very comfortable, or highly uncomfortable flight.

Another important consideration is how far will your seat of choice recline, if at all. Again, the low-fare carriers are known for ‘slim-line seats’ that don’t recline and are less plush, to be sure.

The mainline carriers typically feature economy seats that recline three inches, while their premium economy seats recline up to five inches.

A Typical Narrow-Body Airplane with 3-3 Seating Configuration

How Wide Are Airplane Aisles?

Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), section 25.815, specifies that aircraft with 20 or more seats must have an aisle width of no less than 15 inches, from the floor up to 25 inches in height. Above 25 inches from the floor, the aisle width must be a minimum of 20 inches.  

Since all Boeing and Airbus aircraft have more than 20 seats, as do regional jets such as the Embraer 175 and CRJ 900, it is safe to assume that the aisle width in their economy-class cabins meets or exceeds these minimums.

First and Business Class cabins typically offer somewhat wider aisles for the comfort and convenience of travelers paying higher fares to sit “in the front of the bus”.

While each airline determines what the seat pitch will be in their various cabin categories, i.e., first, business, premium economy, and economy, there is little variance possible when it comes to seat width. However, the type of aircraft that you are booked on will greatly influence your comfort level, depending on the overall width of the cabin.

Below are cabin specifications for some popular aircraft:    

AircraftCabin WidthCabin HeightSeating Configuration
ERJ 170/1909 ft./108 in. 6 ft. 6 in.1-2 F class/2-2 economy
CRJ 700/9008.5 ft./102 in. 6 ft. 2 in.1-2 F class/2-2 economy
Boeing 73711 ft.7 in./139 in.7 ft. 1 in.2-2 F class, 3-3 economy
Airbus A32012 ft. 2 in./146 in.7 ft. 4 in. 2-2 F class, 3-3 economy
Airbus A32112 ft. 2 in./146 in.7 ft. 4 in. 2-2 F class, 3-3 economy
Boeing 75711 ft. 7 in./139 in.7 ft. 0 in.2-2 F class, 3-3 economy
Boeing 76715 ft. 6 in./186 in. 7 ft. 9 in.1-2-1 B class, 2-3-2 economy
Airbus A33017 ft. 4 in./208 in. 8 ft. 6 in.2-2-2 B class, 2-4-2 economy
Boeing 77719 ft. 7 in./234 in.7 ft. 9 in.1-2-1 F class, 2-4-2 B class, 3-4-3 economy
Airbus A35018 ft. 5 in./221 in.8 ft. 6 in.1-2-1 F class, 2-4-2 Prem., 3-3-3 economy
Boeing 78718 ft. 0 in./216 in. 7 ft. 6 in. 1-2-1 B class, 3-3-3 Prem., 3-3-3 economy

Airplane Seat Recommendations for Tall and Large Travelers

Given the many variables when choosing a seat on a flight, here are some recommendations for travelers who are either tall or larger than your “average” person.

Airplane Seat Recommendations for Taller Travelers (Over 6 feet):

  • ERJ, CRJ, and other regional jet or turboprop aircraft – upgrade to F class or premium economy/comfort+, where you’ll gain additional legroom. Other options include choosing a bulkhead seat or one in an exit row. The disadvantage of a bulkhead seat is that you may not have a seat in front of you to store carry-on luggage.

    Be aware that elite members of the airline’s frequent flyer program stand a much better chance of obtaining the most desirable seats. Regional jets and smaller commercial aircraft have smaller overhead compartments, so you may want to pack lightly and travel with a smaller bag, or consider checking luggage that may not fit in the overhead.

    Emergency row seats provide extra legroom but typically do not recline as much as a standard seat. Watch your head when getting up or into your seat, as the overhead compartments are lower on these aircraft.
  • Narrowbody, full-size aircraft (737, A320, 757, etc.) – choose a bulkhead or exit row seat. Upgrade to premium economy or first class. Choose an aisle seat for extra room to stretch out when the aisle isn’t busy.
  • Widebody aircraft – choose a bulkhead or exit row seat. Upgrade to premium economy, business, or first class, though the latter will be pricey. Choose an aisle seat for extra room to stretch out when the aisle isn’t busy.

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Airplane Seat Recommendations for Larger Travelers (Heavier, Wider):

When possible, avoid traveling on regional CRJ/ERJ-type aircraft. You can easily determine what type of aircraft is flying on your chosen flight on the airline’s website. It really doesn’t matter what make or model of regional jet or large turboprop aircraft you are flying on.

Overweight travelers will be uncomfortable squeezing into the seats on these aircraft. If you must ride on one of these aircraft, premium economy, and first class will be more comfortable for you, as will bulkhead, exit row, and aisle seats.

DO NOT choose a window seat if you are a larger person, as you will be in a very tight position for the duration of the flight.

When traveling on a full-size narrowbody aircraft, bulkhead and exit row seating will be the most comfortable options. And it goes without saying that an aisle seat is a much better choice than a middle or window seat. If you have a few extra bucks, we highly recommend upgrading yourself to premium economy, where you’ll gain some extra legroom.

Do Airlines Require Large Passengers to Purchase Two Seats?

Image Source – Marco Verch

Each airline makes its own rules of how to manage a situation where a passenger cannot fit into a single seat on the aircraft. Usually, a gate agent, or agents, sometimes along with the cabin crew’s input, decide how to accommodate a large or overweight traveler.

General guidelines say that each passenger must fit between the armrests of the seat to which they are assigned. However, not all body types are the same, and there are times when the passenger may fit into the seat, but their shoulder width is just too wide, causing a problem with the person(s) seated next to them.

Many airlines will require an overly large person to purchase a second seat if there is one available. Others, like Delta, do not require a second seat to be purchased but may move the traveler to a later flight where they have some open space to handle the situation.

Southwest says that they will provide a second seat at no additional charge, subject to availability. According to Alaska Airlines, if a second seat is necessary and available, they will charge the advance purchase fare rather than the going rate at the moment, in an effort to save the passenger some money.

There are no federally mandated weight restrictions, and airlines do not have any either. It’s all about the size of the traveler, aircraft type, and cabin layout. However, whether a very large person occupies one seat or two, they will almost certainly require a seatbelt extender in order to be safely buckled in.

Airlines usually carry at least one seatbelt extender onboard each aircraft, but be sure to check with the gate agent before boarding to be sure.

NOTE: United Airlines requires a pre-reservation for a seatbelt extender.

How Long Are Airline Seatbelt Extenders?

Here is some useful information regarding seatbelt extenders for many common airlines:

AirlineSeat Belt LengthExtendersExtender Length
Alaska Airlines46 in.Yes22 in.
Allegiant Air40 in.Yes21 in.
American Airlines45 in.Yes25 in.
Delta Airlines35 – 38 in.Yes12 in.
Hawaiian Airlines51 in.Yes20 in.
Jet Blue42 – 49.5 in.Yes25 in.
Soutwest Airlines39 in.Yes24 in.
United Airlines31 in.Pre-Reserve25 in.
(Information from

Can I Use My Own Seatbelt Extender?

Passengers are not permitted to provide their own seatbelt extender. Airlines are responsible for the safety of each passenger, and that includes providing seat belts that are regularly inspected for proper operation.

Passengers trying to use their own seatbelt extender may encounter issues, especially if the airplane’s seatbelt extender has been reserved or issued for the flight.

Where Can I Find Detailed Aircraft Cabin Information?

With scores of aircraft types flying globally, each with numerous cabin configurations, it’s difficult to know with certainty what the aircraft you’re going to be flying on looks like on the inside. These websites offer detailed schematics, by airline and aircraft, to assist with choosing where you’re like to sit on upcoming flights.

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How Long Does it Take to Paint an Airplane?

If you have ever painted a room in your home you know it can be a laborious task of masking, painting, and finishing. The thought of having to paint an airplane the size of an Airbus A380 is unfathomable so the question crops up as to how long does it take to paint something that big!?

Painting an airplane typically takes between 1 to 2 weeks, based on the size of the aircraft, complexity of the design, hanger space, and paint crew availability. British Airways reported that for its A319 aircraft, it takes 950 man-hours to repaint, whereas an Airbus A380 will take about two weeks.

When Alaska Airlines joined up with Pixar and wanted to create a “Toy Story” theme for one of their Boeing 737’s a team of artists took 21 days to complete the complex livery by hand using paintbrushes before the painting crew finished the aircraft in its clear coat.

Regular repainting of an airplane is broken down into several stages all with their own timescale:

What is the Process to Paint an Aircraft?

For most aircraft, three layers of paint are used — the primer, the base, and the top coat. The primer is the protective layer that protects the surface of the aircraft from corrosion.  Then comes the main paint layer which displays the name and logo of the airline, and finally the top layer which gives the plane a shiny appearance. Painting an aircraft involves many steps: 

1. Stripping the Old Paint  

Time to Complete: 1-2 Days

The old paint is stripped off the aircraft so that the new paint does not add to the weight of the aircraft.

There are two main methods to strip paint off of an airplane: 

  • The first method is sanding the paint off, using conventional means, but if not done correctly it can damage the surface of the aircraft 
  • The second method, which is commonly used, is to spray a solvent that dissolves the old paint, which then falls off with the remaining paint removed with high-pressure water jets.

2. Inspection

Time to Complete: Around 1-2 Days

The plane is then examined by certified inspectors to check for any defects, broken rivets, cracks, etc. These damages are then repaired before the painting process continues.

3. Etching & Applying the Primer

Time to Complete: 1 Day then baked overnight

After the surface has been thoroughly cleaned, the surface is prepared by applying a liquid that etches the surface and provides a molecular layer that protects the fuselage surface against corrosion. The primer paint is then added and is an eco-friendly layer that further protects the fuselage and acts as an adhesive layer for further layers of paint. 

4. Base Paint

Time to Complete: 1-2 Days then baked overnight

Next comes the base color using acrylics, enamels, or metallic paints. Thin layers are evenly applied over the entire aircraft providing the main background color for the airplane. White is most commonly used by airlines, unlike Southwest which uses blue or orange for example.

5. Logos & Lettering

Time to Complete: 1-5 Days

Logo, airline name, and unique patterns are all part of a livery of an airline. This aeronautical art is often an important part of airline image. Stencils are made using computer models of aircraft which are then scaled up and applied by technicians.

Each color requires a different stencil to mask off the correct area. Depending on how many colors are used it can take many days to apply a stencil, paint it, bake it, remove the stencil, and then apply the next and repeat.

The more complex the color design, the longer the process takes.

6. Topcoat

Time to Complete: 1 Day then baked overnight

The top layer is a clear epoxy paint that seals all the other layers of paint and gives a high gloss sheen to the aircraft. This coat also protects against UV rays and weather-related damage. 

Each layer of paint adds thickness and weight to the aircraft. The additional weight requires more fuel and that adds to the operational cost of the aircraft. Although each layer only is very thin, even then it adds between 300 to 1500 lbs. to the weight of the aircraft.

When the design of the livery is complex and the requirement is temporary, the airline may choose to use special decals which meet regulatory standards but can be easily removed when they are no longer required.

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What Type of Paint is Used on an Aircraft?

An Airbus H125 Helicopter Being Prepared to Enter the Paint Shop

There are two main types of paint used on airplanes, enamel, and epoxy:

  • Epoxy is a polyurethane-based paint that bonds to the fuselage with incredible strength. Unlike most epoxies, this type of paint remains flexible allowing for movement of the aircraft while not chipping, cracking, or flaking. It is resistant to UV and many chemicals like fuel, oil, and hydraulic fluid making it the preferred choice for most airlines.
  • Enamel is a low-cost paint option due to its reduced durability and lifespan. Most small aircraft are painted using enamel to help keep the cost down for the individual owner.

Sometimes a combination of these two types of paints is also used, for example, the enamel is used for the basecoat, company name, and logo, and then it is covered by a layer of transparent epoxy. This makes the paint rugged and durable but at a lower cost.

How Much Paint Does it Take to Paint an Airplane?

Typically, an average-sized commercial airliner requires around two gallons of paint per square foot, while a GA aircraft may only need half that amount. A Boeing 737 is usually painted with about 60 gallons of paint, while an Airbus A380 may need 200-300 gallons for full coverage.

How Often Do Airplanes Get Re-painted?

Airlines typically repaint their planes every 5 to 7 years depending on the weather condition in which the plane is flying routinely. Airframes are subjected to heavy wear and tear over time, which leads to peeling or chipping paint that requires a fresh coat of paint.  Aircraft are also painted in the new livery when the aircraft is sold or leased to another airline. 

How Much Does it Cost to Paint an Airplane?

Large commercial airplanes can cost upwards of $150,000 to $1 million depending on the complexity of the design. A Boeing 777 may cost somewhere between $150,000 to $300,000, while the price for painting an Airbus 320 is around $50,000. A Cessna 172 may cost only $5000 to paint.

Further Reading:

How Do Helicopters Work? A Pilot Explains!

Helicopters are a marvel of engineering and aerodynamics. Their unique design allows them to operate in the most demanding of environments, whether winching a stranded hiker off a cliff face, placing towers for a ski lift up the side of a mountain, or landing in the grounds of a high-end restaurant. Helicopters are a very unique machine and as a helicopter pilot, I’m always asked how they work.

Helicopters work by rotating 2 or more airfoils around a main shaft to create lift. An engine drives the main transmission which turns the main rotor and the tail rotor systems. Pilots control the helicopter using a Collective control, Cyclic control, & Anti-Torque pedals.

Many people say helicopters are just 1000 parts trying to separate from each other in a spectacular fashion while others talk about how precise and highly engineered they are. I have both opinions and to this day they truly amaze me as to how well they work.

If you wish to find out how they really work, I’ll give you the full tour from the pilot’s perspective…

How Do Helicopters Create Lift?

Helicopters create lift by rotating airfoils through the air. As air flows over each airfoil it deflects air downward as each blade pitches upwards. The more the pitch, the more air it deflects downward, the more lift it creates. When lift is greater than the weight of the helicopter it lifts off.

The way in which a helicopter is unique is that it has a rotating set of wings mounted on top of the fuselage, unlike an airplane where its wings are fixed and it relies on engine thrust to move it through the air to generate lift from its wings. By rotating its wings a helicopter does not need to move through the air for it to generate lift. This is why it can hover.

To control how lift is created each main rotor blade (wing) can change its angle – known as its Pitch Angle. The more pitch angle the rotor blade reaches, the more air it deflects downward. For a helicopter to climb the rotor system creates uniform lift across all its main rotor blades and pushes the helicopter aloft.

To turn, the helicopter rotor blades create more lift on one side of the helicopter compared to the other causing the helicopter to bank in that direction.

Let’s take a look at each main system and how it allows a helicopter to work:

What are the Main Systems that Allow a Helicopter to Work?

The main systems on a helicopter are:

  1. Main Rotor System
  2. Engine & Transmission
  3. Tail Rotor System
  4. Flight Controls

Main Rotor System:

The main rotor system on a helicopter comprises the main rotor blades, the hub, the swashplate, and the control rods.

The hub is attached to the top of the mast. The mast is essentially a drive shaft coming vertically out of the main transmission. Each main rotor blade is attached to the hub. Depending on the type of main rotor system design there can be 1-3 hinges between the hub and each rotor blade.

The hinges allow each main rotor blade to twist and move independently of the hub. The main job of the hub is to rotate each rotor blade through the air.

Helicopters can contain anywhere from 2-8 main rotor blades depending on the size and design of the helicopter.

If you would like to know more about why helicopters have different numbers of main rotorblades please see this article:

This is Why Helicopters Have Different Numbers of Rotor Blades?

To control how each main rotor blade moves or operates the helicopter uses a ‘Swashplate’. The swashplate is comprised of three parts:

  1. Stationary Half
  2. Rotating Half
  3. Spherical Bearing

As the pilot manipulates the flight controls they move control rods that connect to the lower stationary half of the swashplate.

These control movements tilt the swashplate assembly around its spherical bearing. Each half sits on the bearing with the mast passing through the middle.

The rotating half is connected to the stationary half via another bearing and mirrors the tilt placed into the stationary half.

The stationary half only tilts, while the rotating half tilts and rotates around as the mast turns. Pitch Control Linkages join each main rotor blade to the rotating half of the swashplate. This is how the helicopter transfers control inputs from the pilot’s controls into the rotating main rotor blades to adjust their pitch angle.

Engine & Transmission:

Helicopters are fitted with either a piston-powered or gas-turbine-powered engine. Small helicopters used for training and private ownership up to around 4-5 seats will use a piston engine, but once more seats are required, helicopters will have one, two, or even three gas-turbine turboshaft engines fitted. Gas turbine engines produce far more power for their size compared to a piston engine of similar size.

A turboshaft gas turbine engine is just like a jet engine fitted to an airplane but instead of using the escaping gas to push the airplane through the air, it drives a ‘Power Turbine’ inside the engine. This turbine is connected to an output shaft that is then used to drive the main transmission.

The main transmission drives both the main rotor system and tail rotor systems together. One cannot turn without the other turning. The engine’s job is to turn the rotor systems at a constant RPM to allow the airfoils (Main and Tail Rotor Blades) to create lift and thrust as they rotate through the air.

As more weight is lifted or the main rotor system creates more drag, more engine power is required. The engine/s will increase/reduce power via either an electronic fuel control system or a mechanical linkage that operates the throttle just like on your car. The engine’s power demand comes from the pilot’s flight controls.

Tail Rotor System:

Astar Tail Rotor

When the main rotor system turns it imparts torque into the fuselage. Because of Newton’s Third Law of Motion ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’, as soon as the helicopter lifts off the ground the torque will want to spin the fuselage in the opposite rotation to the main rotor system if nothing is there to prevent it.

If you have ever been drilling a hole and the drill bit bites and the drill then wants to rip out of your hand, that is torque.

To prevent the helicopter from spinning due to torque, the helicopter is fitted with a tail rotor or ‘Anti-Torque’ system. This is a small set of airfoils that instead of creating an upward lift force, they create a horizontal thrust.

That thrust is directed in the opposite direction to which the fuselage wants to rotate. When the thrust balances torque the helicopter will remain facing in one direction.

Helicopter Tail Rotor Thrust

The pilot then fine-tunes this thrust by adjusting the pitch angle of the tail rotor blades to maintain rotational control of the nose of the helicopter.

If you wish to learn more about the different types of tail rotor or Anti-Torque systems a helicopter can be fitted with please check out this article:

Helicopter Tail Rotors – The Different Types Explained

Flight Controls:

To maneuver the helicopter the pilot uses three flight controls:


This is in the left hand of the pilot. When they raise the collective the connecting linkages cause the swashplate to rise up the mast and increase the pitch angle of ALL the main rotorblades ‘Collectively’ thus creating uniform lift on each main rotor blade causing the helicopter to climb. The more the collective is raised the greater the pitch angle is increased on each main rotor blade, and the more lift they create.

As the pilot lowers the collective it lowers the swashplate and reduces the pitch angle on ALL of the main rotor blades which reduces the amount of lift they create. Once lift created is less than the weight of the helicopter, the helicopter will begin to descend.

When you were a kid, did you ever place your hand out of the window of a moving car? With your palm flat and parallel to the ground your hand didn’t move, but as you began to tilt or ‘pitch’ your palm upward your hand would want to rise and be forced backward. The rising is the lift created by your palm deflecting air downward and the backward force is the aerodynamic drag your palm creates on the airflow.

This is what is happening to each main rotor blade as it rotates around the helicopter and the pilot raises the collective.

If the engine did not increase power this drag would slow the RPM of the main rotor system causing the helicopter to not produce lift and no longer fly.

To prevent this reduction in rpm from drag, the collective on modern helicopters also controls two devices called a ‘Correlator’ and a ‘Governor’. The correlator is a mechanical linkage that mechanically controls the engine throttle and a governor is an electronic device that tries to fine-tune the throttle to maintain the main rotor RPM at a set rpm.

These devices automatically command the throttle on the engine/s to increase power to overcome the drag the main rotor blades create as they increase in pitch angle as the collective is raised.

On older helicopters, the throttle used to be manually controlled by the pilot. The throttle was mounted on the end of the collective lever like the handgrip on a motorcycle. As the pilot raised the collective they would have to rotate their hand and open the throttle.

They would need to balance the raising and twisting to maintain the main rotor rpm in the green band. As they lowered the collective they would then need to gradually close the throttle to prevent the main rotor rpm from overspeeding.

The correlator or governor now makes this function a non-event for the pilot, unless the governor fails at which point the pilot will have to manually adjust the throttle.

Digital Engine Control Switches on a Leonardo AW139 Helicopter

Once the engine/s are started the throttle is placed into the ‘Flight’ position by the pilot and remains there for the duration of the flight. The correlator and governor then adjust the engine to maintain the main rotor rpm (usually around 400rpm in most helicopters).

To hover a helicopter the pilot will raise the collective to get it airborne, then at around 5 feet above the ground, they will slightly lower the collective to a point where the lift being produced exactly matches the weight of the helicopter. At this point, the helicopter will neither climb nor descend and will therefore hover.

To prevent the helicopter from moving from that spot the pilot uses another control – The Cyclic.


This is in the right hand of the pilot. This is the directional control of the helicopter. When the pilot pushes the cyclic or ‘Cyclic Pitch Control Lever’ in any direction, control rods transfer that input to the swashplate. When the main rotor system is turning it looks like a disk. To keep this explanation simple, the swashplate tilts the main rotor disk in the direction the pilot wishes to go.

There are far more complex things going on here but I’m trying to keep it simple for this article. If you would like a far more in-depth explanation of how a helicopters flight control system works please see this article:

How Do Helicopter Controls Work? Pilot Tells All!

Basically, if the pilot wishes to accelerate into forward flight from the hover they will apply a slight forward pressure on the cyclic. The linkages connecting to the swashplate will tilt the stationary half of the swashplate higher at the rear, and lower at the front. The rotating half of the swashplate mirrors this tilt and causes the rotor disk to drop at the front and rise at the rear.

This disk tilt is done by creating a high pitch on each main rotor blade as it rotates around to the rear of the helicopter. This allows it to generate more lift causing it to rise. As the blade continues to rotate towards the front of the helicopter its pitch angle reduces creating less lift and causing it to fall. As each blade does this it looks like the disk tilts up at the rear and drops in the front.

The same action happens in any direction the pilot moves the cyclic.

Anti-Torque Pedals

Each of the pilot’s feet rests against a pedal. As the pilot pushes on their right or left foot this causes a mechanical linkage to adjust the pitch angle of each tail rotor blade collectively. The pedals are joined so when you push on one, the other comes forward.

By adjusting how much thrust the tail rotor system creates it allows the pilot to rotate the nose of the helicopter to the left by pushing the left pedal, or right by pushing the right pedal.

When the pedals are centered or neutral the helicopter maintains its position pointing forward.

To master the hover each pilot must learn to move all of these controls in unison and by the correct amounts to one another.

To find out why it is hard to do this I highly recommend you read this article:

Learning To Fly Helicopters – Is it really that hard?

Top 5 Small Private Jet Airplanes You Can Own & Fly Yourself

For every aviation enthusiast, the thought of winning the lottery and being able to own our own private jet is right up there towards the top of the dream list. We know that the reality of owning a $60m Gulfstream G550 are literally a pipe dream but there is the class of ‘Light Jets’ that could be within reach.

The Light Jet class of airplanes is designed to be flown by a single pilot and accommodate up to 8 passengers. They have a low purchase cost of under $6m and a low operating cost to entice private owners to buy and fly themselves and family for business and pleasure usage.

If you are in the market for a light jet or are adding fuel to that dream here are the Top 5 best light jets:

Cirrus Vision Jet SF50

Sirrus Vision Jet SF50 – Source: Anna Zvereva

Cost: $1,960,000

Crew: 1

Passengers: 6

This unique-looking, single-engine jet was first launched into production in May 2016 by the Duluth, Minnesota-based company. Falling into the ‘Very Light Jet’ class of aircraft this is truly an aircraft aimed at the owner-pilot market with a no-hassle ownership.

This aircraft was the winner of the 2017 Robert J. Collier Trophy for the ‘Greatest Achievement in Aeronautics or Astronautics in America’ in that year, among with a host of additional accolades to solidify this jet as one of the best in its class.

To date over 350 aircraft have been delivered.

Powerplant1 × Williams FJ33-5A Turbofan
AvionicsGarmin G3000-based Cirrus Perspective Touch+
Length30 ft 11 in 
Height10 ft 11 in
Wingspan38 ft 8 in 
Cabin Height4 ft 1 In
Cabin Width5 ft 1 In
Cabin Length10 ft 11 In
Empty Weight3,550 lb 
Gross Weight6,000 lb
Max Payload1,328 lb 
Max Speed311 knots
Cruise Speed305 knots
Service Ceiling28,000 feet

This aircraft is crammed full of unique features that really make it a great choice based on safety alone:

  • Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS): In case of a serious emergency, this whole-plane parachute recovery system is activated to bring the aircraft to the ground safely
  • Garmin Safe Return Autoland System: In case of an emergency, this system is manually activated by the pilot, the system then, determines the nearest airport, flies to it, and lands automatically without any pilot intervention 
  • Garmin G3000 System Avionics Package: Includes two 14-inch displays up front and three touch controller displays mounted sideways to allow a simple single-pilot operation with everything within arm’s reach
  • Gogo InFlight Wi-Fi: This system gives the pilot and passengers the availability to connect to the internet while in the air

Honda HA-420 Jet Elite

Honda HA-420 HondaJet

Cost: $5,250,000

Crew: 1-2

Passengers: 5-6

The HondaJet is claimed to be the most technically advanced very light jet on the market with many innovative features developed and certified by Honda and its partnerships. By far its most unique feature is its Over-The-Wing engine mounting system.

This installation allows the cabin to be more spacious as it eliminates the need for bulk engine structural supports. In addition, Honda designed and developed its own engine for the HondaJet in partnership with GE. The engines received Type Certification in 2013 with the jet’s production commencing in 2015.

Source: Matti Blume
Source: Matti Blume

HondaJet is designed to be both pleasurable to fly and useful for business.  It offers high reliability, low operating cost, and the most comfortable spacious cabin in its class. It is ideal for charter and fleet operators and can also be geared to be an air ambulance and other special missions.

HondaJet has received several awards and till now over 200 aircraft have been delivered.

Powerplant2 x GE Honda Model: HF120
AvionicsGarmin G3000
Length42 ft 7 in
Height10 ft 11 in
Wingspan39 ft 8 in
Cabin Height4 ft 10 In
Cabin Width5 ft 0 in
Cabin Length7 ft 10 In
Empty Weight7203 lb
Gross Weight11,100 lb
Max Payload3627 lb
Max Speed422 kts
Cruise Speed360 knots
Service Ceiling43,000 feet

Unique features of this aircraft:

  • Pylon-Mounted Over-The-Wing Engines: Provides a bigger and quieter cabin
  • Composite Cabin: Designed from a carbon-fiber-epoxy composite the light cabin allows for increased range and fuel efficiency 
  • Garmin G3000 System Avionics Package: Three 14.1-inch color screens provide navigation and flight instrumentation data and two 5.7-inch touchscreens for operating radio and navigation systems
  • Push-Button Start: Single press engine starting allows for digital engine control and monitoring to prevent hot starts induced by an inexperienced pilot
  • Unique Media System: Its passenger media system does not use speakers; instead, the cabin has multiple transducers that vibrate in unison to provide all-enveloping surround sound 
  • Fully-enclosed Toilet: Having a toilet with a seat belt for such a small cabin is a very welcomed addition for passengers

Learn More
Try These Articles:
* Cost To Buy a Private Jet: 15 Most Popular Models
* Cost To Buy a Helicopter: 15 Most Popular Models

Embraer Phenom 100 EV Evolution

Embraer Phenom 100 – Source: James

Cost: $4,495,000

Crew: 1-2

Passengers: 4-7

The Phenom 100 is one of the most popular aircraft for a light business/personal jet. The cabin interior is designed by BMW Designworks USA and its Garmin 3000-based avionics system ensures that it outperforms all its rivals in its class. 

Its cabin can be configured to comfortably seat 4 passengers or 7 passengers with side-facing seats that also included a toilet. It can be flown in either a single or dual pilot configuration and its airframe comprises of over 20% composite materials.

The latest variant, the EV Evolution has increased weight savings and increased thrust from its engines to enable faster climbs, reduced takeoff roll, and hot & high-performance increases. The first prototype flew in July 2007 with the first delivery in December 2008.

To date over 400 aircraft have been delivered to 37 different countries around the world.

Powerplant2 x  Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F-E
AvionicsGarmin G3000-based Embraer Prodigy Touch
Length42 ft 1 in
Height14 ft 3 in
Wingspan40 ft 4 in
Cabin Height4 ft 9 In
Cabin Width5 ft 1 In
Cabin Length11 ft 0 in
Empty Weight3235 lbs
Gross Weight10,472 lbs
Max Payload3384 lbs
Max Speed390 kts
Cruise Speed371 knots
Service Ceiling41,000 feet

Unique features of this aircraft:

  • Class Leading Performance: It has the longest range, fastest cruise speed, and largest baggage capacity in its class
  • Unique Door: Its larger door allows for easier boarding and deplaning of crew and passengers which also makes the cabin feel larger
  • Enclosed Toilet: Unlike other jets that include a cabin seat that turns into a toilet, this rear-mounted bathroom is fully enclosed with a sink and windows

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Cessna Citation M2

Cessna Citation M2 – Source: James

Cost: $5,050,000

Crew: 1-2

Passengers: 7

The Cessna Citation M2 is the latest light business jet from Cessna. The Citation brand has been the trendsetter in small personal and business jets since it first flew in October 1989. The M2 model was launched in September 2011 and first flew on March 9, 2012.

The Cessna Citation M2 is based on the discontinued CJ1 variant and has a newly designed cabin and more powerful William FJ44 engines. The M2 has a faster climb speed than its closest competitor the Embraer Phenom 100E. 

To date over 250 Citation M2 jets have been delivered. 

Powerplant2 x Williams International FJ44-1AP-21
AvionicsGarmin G3000
Length42 ft 7 in
Height13 ft 11 in
Wingspan47 ft 3 in
Cabin Height4 ft 9 In
Cabin Width4 ft 10 In
Cabin Length11 ft 0 in
Empty Weight8,400 lbs
Gross Weight10,700 lbs
Max Payload1,400 lbs
Max Speed400 kts
Cruise Speed392 knots
Service Ceiling41,000 feet

Unique features of this aircraft:

  • Garmin G3000: Integrated avionics with touch screens, digital color radar, and dual AHRS
  • Winglets: Vertical wing tips that improve lift and reduce drag by reducing wingtip vortices
  • Wing Anti-Icing: Instead of De-Icing boots on the wings leading edges, engine bleed air is ducted to the edges to increase wing performance by maintaining laminar airflow over it
  • Flight Pedigree: The Citation fleet of airplanes have accumulated more than 5,000,000 flight hours globally

Stratos 714 X

Cost: $3,000,000

Crew: 1

Passengers: 3-5

The Stratos 714X is a light jet aircraft that was specifically developed in the US for those owner-pilots who want a high-performance personal jet to meet their business and leisure needs. 

The Stratos 714X features a low-wing monoplane design, composite carbon and honeycomb fuselage, side-stick flight controls, FADEC engine control, and 6 different cabin configuration including an onboard toilet if required.

It can fly at over 400 knots with a range of 1,500 nautical miles with the prototype first flying in 2016 and is underway to receive FAA Type Certification. In addition to the 714, the company is developing a larger 6 seat 716 to appeal to a larger market.

Powerplant1x Williams International FJ44-3AP
AvionicsGarmin G3000
Length35 ft 8 in
Height9 ft 8 in
Wingspan40 ft 5 in
Cabin Height4 ft 8 In
Cabin Width4 ft 7 In
Cabin Length9 ft 5 In
Empty Weight5,035 lb
Gross Weight6,260 lb
Max Payload1,200 lbs
Max Speed400 kts
Cruise Speed320 knots
Service Ceiling41,000 feet

Unique features of this aircraft:

  • Garmin G3000: Integrated avionics with dual touch screens & center mounted GPS and aircraft/engine monitoring data
  • Side Sticks: Side-mounted flight controls to allow for easier access to the cockpit
  • Single Engine: Internally mounted centerline engine similar to many jet fighter airplanes
  • Full Composite Fuselage: Composite fuselage allows for a higher thrust-to-weight ratio and improved cabin pressurization

Learn More
Try These Articles:
* How Hard is it to Become a Pilot? Instructor Tells All!
* Cost To Become A Pilot: All the Licenses Compared!