Painting A Giant: How Emirates Applied Its Most Extravagant A380 Livery

Painting an Airbus A380 is never a small task. After all, the aircraft is the largest passenger aircraft in the skies. Recently, Emirates applied its first-ever complete aircraft special livery. Rather than sticking to the typical white livery, the airline went all out with a blue fuselage and an array of colored dots across the fuselage.

Painting an Airbus A380 is no small task. Photo: Emirates via YouTube

Emirates is no stranger to special aircraft liveries. Over the past five years alone, the airline has placed roughly 50 different designs on 100 aircraft. These have ranged from celebrating sports clubs, special occasions, and even causes such as awareness of the illegal wildlife trade.

First the paint

Every time a new aircraft livery is applied, it typically starts with removing the old livery. On an A380, the paint can weigh hundreds of kilograms despite being incredibly thin. As such, it is removed each time before a new coat is applied to save weight.

Weight is also likely behind the order in which Emirates decided to paint the Airbus A380. Many would assume that the airline would first paint the fuselage and then overlay each element on the base color. Instead, the airline actually started by painting the white words, then each of the colorful elements seen along the fuselage.

Once painted, these colorful elements were covered to stop any new paint from ruining them. Once these elements had been covered, Emirates then covered the remainder of the fuselage in the blue paint that seemingly makes up the base color of the plane.

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After the painting is completed, it is time to remove all of the ‘stencils’ applied to protect each layer of paint. By this point, the livery had been largely completed. However, the photo of the cabin crew member with placards was just a little too tricky to paint on the side of the aircraft. Instead, decals were applied. In simple terms, these are stickers placed on the side of the plane.

Ready to fly?

The last step of applying the Airbus A380 livery sees the airline removing protective covers placed over parts of the aircraft not intended to be painted, such as the outside of the doors and the windows.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Paint Scheme
After 16 days of work, the aircraft is already flying around the world. Photo: Emirates via Twitter

It took Emirates 16 days to apply the special expo livery to A6-EEU. In total, 4,379 staff hours were used, equating to 182.5 days of work. Once the livery had been applied, the aircraft quickly re-entered service, flying to Los Angeles, Jeddah, Paris, Munich, and Manchester in the past week.

The airline is set to apply the livery to two more of its A380s, a process which should take until the end of the month. Once these liveries have been applied, 43 aircraft will have Expo liveries, including 23 A380s. However, only three of these will have fully painted liveries.

Did you realize how much work went into painting an Airbus A380? Let us know what you thought and why in the comments!