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Old 28 August 2007, 07:35 PM
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Vanishing Airliner crash? Hide the logo!

Comment:
With the China Airlines post-crash paint job making headlines and fueling
arguments across the Net, I was reminded of stories that my uncle, an
executive with Delta Air Lines, told me regarding how the industry handled
media/communications in the event of an emergency or disaster. He said
that an airline company would do just about anything to keep their logo
and other visual identifiers out of the picture. This included
covering/painting over the logo and company name on wreckage, and
instructing spokespersons tasked with crisis communications never to give
on-site interviews where any identifying logo could be seen.

Is this or was this once common practice in the airline industry?

I found a few mentions and supporting images of the practice on on various
Web sites, as noted follows:


16 June 2006: British TNT 737-301
Crash landing at Birmingham International
Photographed the morning after the accident, "being towed to 06
turning-pan, company logo and titles already painted over."
Verify image and information at: www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1026785/


28 December 1987: Eastern Air Lines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31
Thunderstorm landing accident at Pensacola Regional
Photographed after accident: http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0313639/M/
Photographed after being "tarped" to mask the company logo and title:
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0077849/M/


18 March 2006: Air Algerie Boeing 737-6D6
Gear collapse upon landing at Seville, Spain
Image: http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1032098/M/
Remark with image reads: "Titles and registrations have been removed as
usual."
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  #2  
Old 28 August 2007, 07:40 PM
diddy diddy is offline
 
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Aren't airline investigations a matter of public record? I would think it wouldn't be to difficult to identify a crashed airliner with all of the publicity around a crash. Any tower that it was communicating at would know.
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Old 28 August 2007, 07:40 PM
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Well the fact that the airline involved is mentioned in all the aircrash investigation reports I've seen, leads me to believe this is a fairly ineffective piece of PR.

Also shortly after the crash, is it more likely that the spokespeople would say "BA Flight 137 crashed on takeoff from Heathrow" so that only the families of those on board that flight would fret, or "A plane belonging to someone or other crashed on takeoff from Heathrow sometime today" so that the families of the tens of thousands of passengers that could apply to will fret?
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  #4  
Old 28 August 2007, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
Aren't airline investigations a matter of public record? I would think it wouldn't be to difficult to identify a crashed airliner with all of the publicity around a crash. Any tower that it was communicating at would know.
The point is to keep the association between the airline and the crash out of the public eye by not having the airline's logo plastered all over news photos and video taken at the scene, not to keep the involvement of the airline an absolute secret from investigators (and everyone else).

- snopes
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  #5  
Old 28 August 2007, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Well the fact that the airline involved is mentioned in all the aircrash investigation reports I've seen, leads me to believe this is a fairly ineffective piece of PR.
Not so. The point is to keep the visual association between an airline's most recognizeable symbol (its logo) and a crashed plane out of the public eye. Merely mentioning the name of the airline in a report doesn't create nearly the same level of memorable impression with the public.

- snopes
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  #6  
Old 28 August 2007, 08:03 PM
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Airplane Yup

The paint job alluded to in the OP:

China Airlines Repaints Its Toasted 737, Translates "Chutzpah" into Chinese
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  #7  
Old 28 August 2007, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment:
With the China Airlines post-crash paint job...
Slight nitpick: The China Airlines plane didn't "crash." It landed normally and then burst into flames after it parked.

As to the question in the OP, my understanding is that it's pretty much standard procedure for all airlines to paint over the logo on a plane after an accident. I think they may even do it on airworthy but unused planes put into storage, as a bunch of unused planes parked in the desert probably isn't good for an airline's image. Keep in mind I don't work in the industry, I'm just a guy who likes airplanes.
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  #8  
Old 28 August 2007, 08:17 PM
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Old-board-a-chow.
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  #9  
Old 28 August 2007, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Slight nitpick: The China Airlines plane didn't "crash." It landed normally and then burst into flames after it parked.
Yup, pretty much like that.

[off topic]

The FAA has already released an emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) to check for loose bits in the slat track mechanism (.pdf). Apparently there have been two incidents where a nut comes off the downlock on the slat track, and falls back into the horn-shaped housing in the front of the fuel tank that the slat track retracts into. Then, on the next slat retraction, the end of the track drives the nut (or one of the parts that the nut secured) through the wall of the housing, causing a fuel leak into the housing and overboard.

Last edited by BoKu; 28 August 2007 at 10:11 PM.
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  #10  
Old 28 August 2007, 10:10 PM
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Whalephant Another thought

If they're going to paint over the logo, why don't they be proactive about it, and go one step further: paint on another airline's logo?

Say, the ill-fated Oceanic Airlines? "Because getting halfway there is all the fun!"
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  #11  
Old 28 August 2007, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
If they're going to paint over the logo, why don't they be proactive about it, and go one step further: paint on another airline's logo?

Say, the ill-fated Oceanic Airlines? "Because getting halfway there is all the fun!"
Intrestingly enough, a few clicks away from you post and your get an example of a retired airliner with the logos painted over. Although for some reason they seem to have skipped painting the rudder and you can still see the letters "TA."
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  #12  
Old 29 August 2007, 07:27 AM
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Tarquin Farquart Tarquin Farquart is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
Say, the ill-fated Oceanic Airlines? "Because getting halfway there is all the fun!"
Hasn't Oceanic Airlines been used in other programmes as well?
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  #13  
Old 29 August 2007, 09:57 AM
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Airplane

Before
During
After

Same plane in all three pictures.
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  #14  
Old 29 August 2007, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Hasn't Oceanic Airlines been used in other programmes as well?

Wiki says that Oceanic Airlines was used in the movie Executive Decision with Kurt Russel and Steven Seagal. And used in the TV series Lost.

Incidently, there was another fictional airline, Columbia Airlines, used in the movie Airport '75 starring Charlton Heston. This was actually an American Airlines Boeing 747-123 redressed for the movie. It was later bough by UPS, but as of 2005 is in retirement. Here is a picture of that plane:

http://www.jetphotos.net/viewphoto.php?id=142301

Also, during production of Airport '75, Heston took lessons on a 747 and in several scenes in the movie he can actually be seen flying.
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  #15  
Old 29 August 2007, 08:05 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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I can certainly understand why an airline would paint over a logo. In context, the owner of the airline is generally identified. Out of context, e.g., somebody showing pictures of crashed aircraft, the absence of the logo would avoid unfavorable publicity.

I wonder, when a car crashes it is soon owned by the insurance company. Does the same thing happen with an aircraft? Is a crashed plane owned by the insurance company within hours or days of a crash? If so, then it makes sense that the logo is removed since the airline no longer owns the craft.

Or does the aircraft revert to the leasing company, in which case the same thing applies, is is no longer the airlines aircraft.
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  #16  
Old 29 August 2007, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
I wonder, when a car crashes it is soon owned by the insurance company. Does the same thing happen with an aircraft? Is a crashed plane owned by the insurance company within hours or days of a crash? If so, then it makes sense that the logo is removed since the airline no longer owns the craft.
I just asked this question on an aviation related board, and was told that the insurance company does assume ownership of the plane, but it's unclear at what point this occurs.
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  #17  
Old 29 August 2007, 10:45 PM
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Airplane

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
...Is a crashed plane owned by the insurance company within hours or days of a crash? If so, then it makes sense that the logo is removed since the airline no longer owns the craft...
Generally, no, the aircraft remains the property of the owner, operator, or leasing company at least until the damage and repair costs have been assessed and adjustors determine whether or not it can be economically repaired.

With aircraft, one complication is that virtually every accident in which injuries or fatalities are incurred is investigated in some depth by the NTSB. So the NTSB will often impound the wreckage and hold it for the purposes of their investigation. And sometimes their investigation is less than gentle - often they will do ground runs on engines that will cause further damage that might have been avoided if the engine were instead torn down and repaired.

And of course, the NTSB looks askance at mishandling of wreckage that interferes with their investigation. The rules in 49CFR830.10 (.pdf) say you're not to disturb wreckage except where necessary. It seems there must be some leeway when it comes to painting over airline logos; I'd guess that the practice is somewhat tolerated in exchange for securing the airlines good will and cooperation in the investigation.

Once the NTSB is done, it releases the wreckage either to the insurance company or to the owner or their representative, depending on whether or not it has been deemed totaled.

Here's three of the sites I go to to shop for broken aircraft salvage:

AIG Salvage List

http://www.ladaviationinc.com/salvage/avaliable_salvage.htm

USAIG Salvage

Sometimes I just visit the sites to see pictures of broken airplanes.

Bob "BoKu" K.
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  #18  
Old 29 August 2007, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
Once the NTSB is done, it releases the wreckage either to the insurance company or to the owner or their representative, depending on whether or not it has been deemed totaled.
I seem to remember in one case -- I think it was Swissair 111, where the investigators held on to the wreckage even after the investigation was complete, I believe to use as a tool to train new investigators. I think Swissair may have gone out of business by that point, but I would think their insurance company would still have a wanted the wreckage. Would the government agency in charge of the investigation, in this case the Canadian TSB, compensate the insurance company in some way for the wreckage?
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Old 29 August 2007, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
I seem to remember in one case -- I think it was Swissair 111, where the investigators held on to the wreckage even after the investigation was complete, I believe to use as a tool to train new investigators. I think Swissair may have gone out of business by that point, but I would think their insurance company would still have a wanted the wreckage. Would the government agency in charge of the investigation, in this case the Canadian TSB, compensate the insurance company in some way for the wreckage?
I really don't know about that. But I do know that repairing airplanes gets expensive fast, and that it doesn't take much to total one.

With something like Swissair 111, where the wreckage is badly fragmented and immersed in salt water for an extended period, the wreckage has virtually no salvage value beyond its raw material value. And even then it's pretty expensive to recycle since the aluminum is corrupted with inclusions of steel, magnesium, titanium, various plastics, and other impurities. So I'd imagine that nobody was particularly clamoring for its return.
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  #20  
Old 30 August 2007, 12:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Is this or was this once common practice in the airline industry?
It does seem to be 'standard practice', I've seen photos of Aloha Air Flight 243, which lost its cabin in flight where the logo on the tail has been painted over, similarly there are photos of a de-identified tail of Florida Air 90.

Several other similar photos appear in the 'Air Disaster' series of books by McArthur Job.

However I have seen one or two images that would suggest otherwise such as one of a Saudi Tristar was destroyed after a mid-air fire.
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