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Why are most passenger planes painted white?

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With all that time spent above the clouds, aircraft need sun cream too.

Asked by: Terry Fairhall, By Email

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The main reason is that it protects the aircraft from the effects of solar radiation. Aircraft struggle to stay cool while loading and unloading passengers at airports in hot countries, and brilliant white paint helps bounce back some of the sunlight. It also helps protect aircraft parts made out of composite materials from damage through ultraviolet radiation, which is substantially higher at altitude.


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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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