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A look at some of the most interesting and creative jet exterior designs - banner

A look at some of the most interesting and creative jet exterior designs


Air travel doesn’t have to just be about getting from A to B. In fact, quirky designs on jet exteriors have been used to launch movies, celebrate national icons and promote tourism. Here are 10 of the most weird and wonderful aircraft exteriors in the world of aviation, from Toy Story jets to Iron Maiden’s iconic Ed Force One.

Air New Zealand’s All Blacks and movie-themed planes

As the official sponsor of the All Blacks rugby squad, Air New Zealand has a striking Boeing 777-300 Dreamliner airplane that’s covered in black paint and features a silver fern native to the country and a Maori Koru logo on the tail. New Zealand is also famous as the setting of fantasy movie trilogies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and visitors flock to the country to visit stunning shooting locations including Hobbiton Village. To celebrate the movies, Air New Zealand brands itself the Official Airline of Middle Earth and displays characters including the dragon Smaug on the side of its planes. Passengers can also enjoy in-flight safety videos featuring cast members from the movies.

Iron Maiden’s Ed Force One

Iron Maiden’s Ed Force One
Iron Maiden’s Ed Force One

English heavy metal band Iron Maiden are known for traveling in style. During their 2016-17 Book of Souls world tour, they flew in a B747 customized by Air Charter Service. The aircraft’s exterior featured their iconic mascot Eddie on the tail, the band name and a list of 50 shows on the tour. Nicknamed Ed Force One after the mascot, the aircraft drew crowds with its eye-catching livery and was just as lavish inside, with cabin seating reconfigured to accommodate the band and space for 22 tons of tour cargo. Ed Force One was created by the ACS Charter Concepts service, which customizes private jets.

China Eastern’s Toy Story aircraft

China Eastern worked with Pixar to create a unique Toy Story airplane design. Featuring exterior murals of two of the franchise’s beloved main characters, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the plane flies to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Disney Resort theme park features a Toy Story Land. Passengers receive a special Toy Story boarding pass and can pose with their favorite characters in the terminal, as well as watching the popular movies during the flight. Inside the aircraft, images of stars including Rex the dinosaur and Bullseye the horse are featured on food trays, menus, headphones and seats.

Roman Abramovich’s private jet, The Bandit

Billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich has a fleet of private aircraft, including a Boeing 757-33AER which is known for its distinctive paint job. The body of the aircraft has classic white, grey and brown markings, with slanting black stripes over the cockpit windows that resemble a mask, hence the name Bandit. The airplane cost $300 million and its engineering boasts an anti-ballistic defence system that rivals the U.S. Government’s, as well as a quality interior with boardroom, 30-seater dining room, living room and master bedroom with en-suite shower.

Icelandair’s Hekla Aurora

IcelandAir’s Hekla Aurora, with an image of the northern lights painted on its exterior
IcelandAir’s Hekla Aurora, with an image of the northern lights painted on its exterior

Icelandair’s Boeing 757 boasts a green livery that depicts the beautiful Northern Lights, which attract millions of tourists to Iceland each year, along with LED cabin mood lighting that mimics this incredible natural phenomenon. The airplane is named Hekla Aurora, which has a special meaning: Hekla is a traditional Icelandic girl’s name and one of the country’s volcanoes, while Aurora is taken from “Aurora Borealis”, the New Latin name for the Northern Lights. Icelandair developed the aircraft design to market its Stopover offer, which allows passengers to visit Iceland on their way between Europe and North America at no extra cost.

Brussels Airlines’ Rackham

Brussels Airlines commemorates one of the country’s national icons, cartoon hero Tintin, on its Airbus A320. The aircraft design is based around the 1944 Tintin story, Red Rackham’s Treasure, created by renowned Belgian cartoonist Hergé. The livery features Tintin and his dog Snowy in a shark submarine, while the interior features murals from the comic album. Passengers can even read the Adventures of Tintin stories in multiple languages while flying onboard.

Kulula’s Flying 101

South African low-cost carrier Kulula has experimented with a couple of quirky paint designs. In-house aircraft designers created the Flying 101 pattern, which features tongue-in-cheek labels on the livery including the wing, engine, nose cone and tail. There’s an arrow pointing out the ‘mile-high club initiation chamber’, as well as a graphic referring to the pilot as the ‘Big Cheese’. In 2010, a moustache was added to the Flying 101 to celebrate Movember, which raises awareness of men’s health issues. Kulula’s newest aircraft design mimics a fragile packing label, with a sign reading ‘This way up’ on one of their B737-800s.

ANA’s Star Wars plane collection

ANA’s 787-9 with a livery resembling R2D2 from Star Wars
ANA’s 787-9 with a livery resembling R2D2 from Star Wars

One of Japan’s most well-known airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), has released a collection of Star Wars planes. The company launched the first new livery – a Boeing 787-9 resembling the famous droid, R2-D2 – for the 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a five-year deal with Disney. New planes have followed featuring the popular characters BB8 and C3P0 emblazoned on their exteriors. The Star Wars theme continues inside the planes with character headrest covers, cups and napkins.

Turkish Airlines’ employee aircraft

To celebrate its workers, Turkish Airlines covered one of its Boeing 737 planes with 17,000 photographs of employees from around the world. Staff from 191 flight destinations took part in the project, including all levels of personnel from pilots to engineers, cabin crew and terminal operators. The project took four months to finish and margins were used to spell out the company motto, Globally Yours.

Qatar Airways’ FC Barcelona plane

Qatar Airways was the official sponsor of FC Barcelona from 2013 until 2017. To promote the partnership, the airline painted the Barcelona flag and club emblem on the livery of one of its B777s, which flew to destinations such as Bangkok, Barcelona, Mumbai and Singapore. The aircraft refurbishment also displayed the tagline: The Team that Unites the World.

Fancy traveling in your own personalized private jet? Contact ACS for a quote from our Charter Concepts service, which offers customers personalized aircraft exterior and interior designs.

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