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23 August 2007


Painting over logos and airline names is actually common practice when an accident occurs at an airport. The only thing that's surprising to me is that nobody seems to remember the previous occurrences and another tiny uproar occurs every time somebody notices the, uh, little bit of touchup. Again. And again a few years later, when the next high-profile airport accident occurs.

My first recollection of such a paint-over is the World Airways/Logan Airport accident in 1982. The aircraft was sitting partially submerged in water at first, then the logos were covered up with large tarps, then they were painted over, then the whole shebang was moved away from the airport to a Boston harbor island, well away from the airport.

In cases in the US where this has occurred (pretty much every accident at an airport is my guess), I'll bet you would find that each whitewash -- let's call it what it is -- was done with the approval of both the NTSB and the FAA, one of whose raisons d'etre is to promote airline use, after all. The paint crew would not go unnoticed by the investigators clambering over the wreckage.

Now, the story link below from just a few months ago depicts an airline with truly Gulliver-sized cojones. Note the Garuda Airline employees posing for souvenir snapshots in front of their wrecked airliner where 21 people died. Incidentally, the logos on that aircraft were also painted over, but, according to the Garuda spokesman, for "cultural reasons." Yeah, that's it. You wouldn't want to offend the locals by ignoring their tradition of disassociating corporate entities from disasters.


Wow. I had no idea this was so common. Thank you Mike!

It's both common and long-standing. See this Snopes forum thread, with links to photos from the Air Florida crash in 1982.

In that case, when the tail was pulled out of the Potomac, it of course still had the logo visible; later photos of the debris stored in a hangar, however, show a big blob of black paint covering the logo.


I would like to see evidence that this happens after US airline incidents. Putting a tarp over it doesn't seem as bad. People have no need to see my charred remains or final resting place just for their own gratification. But repainting is something all together different. Of all the goggling I've done I can only find cases of international incidents where this has happened. Do you have any others?


I believe this practice is due to the fact that after severe damage, the 'plane is no longer an asset of the airline but of their insurer. Not your plane, not your paint job.

Justin: See the links off of the Snopes forum thread, including a photo of the very much repainted Air Florida 90 tail.

Sadly, this isn't the first time China Airlines has had to paint over its logo post-crash. On November 4, 1993, China Airlines Flight 605, a three-month-old B747-400, overran the runway at Hong Kong's old Kai Tak airport. The plane was stuck in the water for days. By November 13, they'd removed not only the name and logo but the entire tail too. (The tail was blasted off with dynamite so as not to pose a hazard to departing aircraft.)

Luckily, all 396 people aboard escaped with their lives.

See photo of the plane stuck in the water http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0193315/M/

And a post-extraction:

What an insane video. The cover-up is laughable though.

No doubt they used all the extra lead paint they picked up from the Barbie factory.

@Bruno: Despite the name, you got the wrong country. Doesn't change the institutionalized retardedness of the situation though.

common practice and nothing special at all. CAL have restructured and become a very nice airline flying a young fleet these days.. having flown with them several times i can say they are a very good airline, on par with Thai Airways and the likes...

A tarnished history yes but nothing compared to Korean Airlines.... have a look at their crash-record at www.airdisaster.net

Yes, Bruno... China Airlines is from Taiwan, not mainland China.

as a relative in the travel business says about China Airlines: "How are they? Well, their cheap fares reflect all that money they save on maintenance."

Thank you for flying Mandarin Airlines, and we'd like ask those on the right side of the aircraft to close their windowshades for takeoff.

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