How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Plane? [Latest Price Guide]

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Airplane paint is commonly known as liveries which means branding on wings. Generally, every plane comes out with white paint. For individual identity, airline branding, and increasing the exterior look, every airline company uniquely paints its aircraft.

Also, after a limited period aircraft need to be repainted. In this article, we will try to find out how much it will cost to paint a commercial airplane and more details related to this topic. Let’s dive into the main topic.

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Commercial Airplane
How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Plane?

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Plane or Small Airplane?

An average size regular passenger plane’s painting can cost you between $200,000 and $400,000 and for a smaller plane, you may need to cost around $50,000 to $75,000 in 2023. A smaller plane like Cessna, Mooney, Bonanza, or Piper’s painting cost can go between $15,000 and $30,000 or more.

It is an approximate cost. However, it is believed that the renovation of the RAF Voyager jet used by the British prime minister cost over a million dollars, as reported by CNN.

Normally a painting company can take one week to one month to paint an aircraft. For example, it took IAC a total of 21 days to complete the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 with a Disney-Pixar “Toy Story” livery.

Commercial Airplane Painting Cost Summary

Commercial airplane painting can cost you a little more, or a little less depending on some factors like plane type, paint quality, design and details, number of colors used, the charge of the painting agency, and the amount of labor needed for the job.

Type of Commercial AirplanePrice Range
Small Airplane Painting Cost$15,000-$30,000
Medium Airplane Painting Cost$50,000-$75,000
Large Commercial Airplane Painting$200,000-$400,000

7 Cost Factors Influence a Commercial Airplane Painting Cost 2023 ([Full Analysis]

Several cost factors can directly or indirectly influence a commercial airplane painting cost. These factors can save you some money or can cause you to spend more. The total painting cost is greatly influenced by it.

Let’s see these seven important cost factors for painting a commercial airplane:

1. Airplane Type

Aircraft painting cost mostly depends on the type of plane. The cost varies from aircraft to aircraft because of their different size, design, materials, and models.

For instance, a bigger commercial aircraft like Boeing 777, Boeing 737, or Boeing 747 airplane painting cost is double the painting cost of a small aircraft like an Airbus A320 or a private jet.

It is because the bigger the plane is, the more time and amount of paint it will need to give the aircraft a perfect brand look. For instance, the makeover of the UK’s prime minister’s RAF Voyager cost more than a million dollars.

2. Paint Quality

It is an important factor for cost and aircraft safety. Aircraft companies ordered the best quality paint for the airplane. Every layer of paint puts extra weight on the aircraft. That’s why it needs to choose the paint which is suitable to apply as a thin layer.

Two commonly used paints for aircraft are epoxy and enamel. Epoxy-type paint costs more compared to enamel. Epoxy is a polyurethane-type paint, and it is very much suitable for airplane surfaces.

Point to be Noted: The benefit of using epoxy paint is it does not oxidize, fade or break down easily.

3. Custom Paint Color

Every aircraft brand uses its specific brand long, logo, and pattern. The more colors are used for the paint, the more it will increase the cost. For instance, aircraft company Etihad Airways use licorice and gold foil color in their logo or blue in the body.

Other airlines like Qatar Airways use Spanish purple and slate gray color in the body and Singapore Airways use dark cornflower blue and yellow-orange color in the body.

Military aircraft and flights of the air force use a single-color base coat. It costs less than private aircraft. Paint color thickness needs to keep under 0.15 to .35 millimeters or 0.006 inches to 0.014 inches. Otherwise, it will need more paint. It will increase the cost and weight of the aircraft.

4. Unique Design

As with other painting jobs, the more artistic paint and design you choose, the more it costs. An artistic livery by AIC for a Boeing 737 aircraft will cost you more than the average painting job.

Airplane companies like Etihad Airways and British Airways and American airlines have complicated designs that cost more compared to other companies. Because it requires more time of labor and the use of a paintbrush.

5. Details for Brand Identity

For reducing the cost, you can select decals (large special adhesives) as an alternative to liveries.  It is easy to apply and takes fewer hours compared to liveries.

Also, some companies use stickers including company specifications on the tail of the aircraft. It is also a cheaper way to save money.

6. Amount of Paint Used

Not every aircraft needs the same amount of paint. Depending on the size of the airplane, an aircraft can need 50 gallons to 120 gallons of paint. The cost also varies differently for painting different size aircraft. Every layer of paint adds extra weight to the airplane.

Paint on a plane adds 600 to 1,200 pounds to the weight of the aircraft. This added weight increases the amount of fuel a plane consumes and is equivalent to transporting up to eight more passengers.

The removal of this unneeded weight reduces the cost of operating the flights. More weight means more fuel consumption by the engine and more fuel costs.

To reduce this number, different modern techniques like low-pressure and high-volume spraying tools are used.

Aircraft TypeArea Covered AreaPaint NeededExamples
Short-haul aircraft9,700 square feet or 900 square meters50 US gallons or 189 litersBoeing 737, Airbus A320
Medium-Haul aircraft  21,500 square feet or 2,000 square meters80 US gallons or 302 litersAirbus A330, Boeing B777
Super Larger Aircraft43,000 square feet or 4,000 square meters150 US gallons or 567 litersAirbus A380, A350

7. Charge of Painting Company

Aircraft manufacturers and external aircraft painting agencies charge differently for light aircraft, large aircraft, and wide-body aircraft. It is not an easy job. It takes much care and safety preparation for painting an aircraft.

A team of experienced painting experts works together from prep to finish the work. They can charge based on working hours, or they can charge based on sq or sq meters. The maximum cost they will charge you is labor cost.

A Complete Guide on Aircraft Painting in 2023 (Step-by-step Tutorial)

Airplane painting is a lengthy and difficult process. It takes some step-by-step process to complete the job. Here are the commonly used steps for painting an aircraft.

Step #1: Preparation

For painting an aircraft you need to prep the aircraft. First of all, experts need to investigate the full aircraft before applying the primer. Is there any damage on the surface or not? If you are repainting it, old paint needs to be removed.

Step #2: Priming

A layer of eco-friendly primer is applied over the paintable surface. It helps the paint to make a strong bond with the metal surface. The primer must be smooth properly to have a glossy finish.

Step #3: Backgrounding

After applying primer and smoothing it, a layer of background paint or base coat is applied over the surface. It might be white or gray depending on the expected color scheme.

Step #4: Final Coating

When the background paint is dried up, the final color pattern is applied over the surface and all the details, brand name, and logo are painted over the surface. For this, enamel paint is used and for an extra shiny look, epoxy paint is used.  

Step #5: Clear Coating

For having a glossy finish and protection against damage, a layer of clear coat is applied over the surface. It seals everything in its place.

Top 5 Features to Looking for in an Aircraft Paint Booth in 2023

Aircraft can not be painted over space. The covered area used to paint an aircraft is known as a paint booth. It is better than an aircraft paint hangar or paint barn.

For better outcomes, an aircraft paint booth must have these features.

  • A conformal design is required. It saves more operational costs compared to paint hangars.
  • It should use the proper amount of HD light for better visibility. It makes it easy to spray paint certain parts of an aircraft.
  • A good aircraft paint booth has a better airflow or air movement control system.
  • It should have a properly designed automatic balancing system.
  • Not only that, but it must have lighting and contamination control for having a high-quality paint finish.

8 Important Benefits of Painting An Airplane in 2023

As we can see, painting an aircraft is not similar to painting a car or truck. It takes more cost, more attention, and more time. So, it is the benefit of costing a huge amount of money just to paint. Let’s find out the eight advantages of painting an airplane.

  • It is important for safety purposes. It gives aircraft protection against salting, oxidation, and rust.
  • Painting on an airplane gives protection against jet fuel sillage.
  • It keeps the surface dirt and damage-free.
  • It gives protection against corrosion of the fuselage.
  • Painting protects the surface from airflow erosion, all sorts of fluids, and the effects of UV rays.
  • In addition, it adds brand value and creates a specific brand identity.
  • Liveries add fancy and unique looks to the aircraft.
  • When one plane is from an airline owned by another, the existing paint needs to change immediately. It is significant for branding.

World 10 Celebrities Who Own Private Jets for Their Personal Use

There are several celebrities who owned their own jets. Here is the list of the most famous celebrities who owned private jets.

  • Bill Gates.
  • John Travolta.
  • Morgan Freeman.
  • Jim Carrey.
  • The Beckhams.
  • Neymar.
  • Jay-z and Beyonce.
  • Angelina Jolie.
  • Tiger Woods.
  • Taylor Swift.

Most frequently Asked Questions Related to Paint a Commercial Airplane: (FAQs)

How long does aircraft paint last?

Generally, airplane paint lasts for five to ten years. Normally airline companies strip off aircraft paint after every five years as a part of maintenance and apply a new coat of paint over the surface.

Can I legally paint my own airplane?

In the USA, there isn’t a set rule for painting planes. But from country to country these rules vary. In Us, the catch is that only mechanics who are FAA-certified can inspect painted aircraft. Paint your own plane. To do it all on your own, first, think about safety. Because this job is a little dangerous. Make sure you know how to do this and are good at this job.

How much does it cost to paint a Boeing 737?

A normal Boeing 737 is painted with 50 gallons (189 liters) of aircraft paint, according to the manufacturer. Each plane can cost anywhere between $92,000 to $250,500, depending on the number of colors used and the amount of preparation and painting required.

How much does it cost to paint a 747?

A 747 needs approximately 90 gallons of paint and weighs in the neighborhood of 550 pounds. Repainting a Boeing 747 will cost between $220,000 and $304,000 USD in material and labor costs.

How much does it cost to paint a 777?

In a 2013 Wall Street Journal story, Tom Horton from American Airlines estimates that re-painting a Boeing 777 will cost between $100,000 and $200,000 dollars. It is one of the largest ones. Costs are expected to rise by 2023, according to current projections. To paint a Boeing 777, you’ll need somewhere between $300,000 and $400,500.

Can you paint an airplane any color?

Until or unless you are not copying others’ designs or trademarks or logos, you can apply any color and design to your aircraft. FAA regulations don’t give any specific color code, design of paint, or restriction to any color. You can apply any color suggested by the aircraft designer.

How much does it cost to paint a Piper Cherokee?

To paint a Piper Cherokee 140 you may need to cost between $15,000 to $30,000. It can cost you a little more or a little less depending on paint quality and many cost factors. Custom paint jobs will cost you even more.

How much does it cost to paint a helicopter?

A custom paint job on a helicopter can cost you Between $60,000 and $150,000 or more depending on the painting process, prep work, and other cost factors.

Can you vinyl-wrap an airplane?

Yes, an airplane can be vinyl wrapped. It takes less time and labor to wrap an aircraft. It also reduces the cost for an aircraft owner. It helps to reduce the extra weight of paint and add scopes for applying custom graphics and striping.

Final Thought on Plane or Aircraft Painting in 2023

In this article, we tried to find out the answer to how much it cost to paint a commercial airplane in 2023. We find out the factors that directly or indirectly affect the total painting cost.

As it is not an easy process to paint an aircraft it costs a big amount of money. But the cost is worth it for aircraft safety purposes. That’s it from our side. Hope you enjoy it.

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