American Airlines' New Logo: A Look At The 'Silverbird' Legacy [PHOTOS]

on January 17 2013 2:31 PM
  • American Airlines' Logo Change
    The "silverbird" polished-metal look of the classic American color scheme, which debuted in 1968, is seen here on this MD-80 taking off from New York's La Guardia airport. Alberto Riva
  • American Airlines' Logo Change
    The eagle logo on the tail is evident on this Boeing 737-800 landing at New York-La Guardia, with another American icon, the Empire State Building, in the background. Alberto Riva
  • American Airlines' Logo Change
    On sunny days, the silver sheen is stunning. The image pictures a Boeing 777 taking off frm New York's JFK airport. Alberto Riva
  • American Airlines' Logo Change
    Another 777 taking off from JFK shows a variation on the airline's now-classic livery: a pink ribbon added to publicize the cancer-fighting Susan G. Komen Foundation. Alberto Riva
  • American Airlines' Logo Change
    The eagle logo is also painted on the winglets, the fuel-saving wingtip extensions of some aircraft. This one is seen from inside a Boeing 737 on the backdrop of New York's JFK airport. Alberto Riva
  • American Airlines' Logo Change
    And this is how the new colors look, in a computer rendering released by American Airlines. Alberto Riva
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One of America’s iconic companies has a new logo and a new corporate color, and people are very upset about it. American Airlines (PINK:AAMRQ) unveiled Thursday its new image, a key part of the restructuring that the Dallas-based airline is conducting while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company has already painted a Boeing 737 and a brand-new 777-300 (American is the first airline in the U.S. to operate the Series 300, the biggest twin-engine plane in the world) in the new scheme and will repaint its more than 600 other airplanes as they undergo their scheduled stops for maintenance. It takes typically at least one year for large airline fleets to change paint schemes entirely.  

For some connoisseurs of the airline world, it will be a year of griping. The change -- the first to the company’s logo since 1968 -- means that American will lose one of its more recognizable features, the silver sheen of its airplanes.

The forums on, the aviation site with the most traffic in the world, are abuzz with chatter on the new livery -- and some people are really mad about the new look.

“It can’t be we waited all this time for this!!!” and “For the love of all that is holy, I hope that is not it” are two of the milder reactions among the naysayers who don’t like the new logo and mourn the passing of the silver colors.

Aircraft spotters, the people who spend time at airports looking at airplanes as a hobby, could always tell an American Airlines plane by the trademark silver shine of the fuselage. So could passengers. While most other carriers paint their planes a dull white or some other combination of colors, American has always been known for its polished metal.

But it’s exactly the polished metal that is behind the color change. American has bought dozens of Boeing 787s, which are made largely of composite materials. Composites have many advantages, including being less sensitive to corrosion than metals. The cabin can also be pressurized more heavily than on conventional airplanes, making it easier on passengers, who feel less like they are on a high mountain.

Composites, however, don’t look like metals: the silver sheen look would not work on the 787s, when American begins getting them, in a few years from Boeing (NYSE:BA).

In a press release, the airline said that “since the polished metal look was no longer an option, the importance of the paint selection became critical to honoring American's silver bird legacy." Therefore, "silver mica paint was chosen as a way to maintain the silver heritage which American's people and customers are passionate about, yet progress ahead with a clean new look."

All this brouhaha, however, may turn out to be a moot point. US Airways (NYSE:LCC) has been trying for months to merge with American, something that may happen as the larger American Airlines exits bankruptcy in the coming months. And the first thing that usually changes when two airlines merge? You guessed it: the logo.

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