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Why settle for something off the shelf? Dassault Falcon and other manufacturers will happily customise your aircraft’s livery, with other independent operations also provide this service. A bespoke paint scheme can be a pricey endeavour, and if prospective buyers do not share your taste, it can hurt the aircraft’s resale value. But the customisation can make your aircraft distinctive and enhance its ramp presence – the impression it makes on onlookers as it sits on the apron in front of the FBO, waiting for you to board or deplane.
1. Custom Dassault Falcon 2000LXS
The Dutch entrepreneur Peter Kütemann says that his aircraft receives compliments wherever it lands, and not just because it is a Dassault Falcon 2000LXS, a large-cabin business jet that can fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Kütemann, whose business, Dietsmann, operates and maintains oil, gas, and power plants for companies throughout the world, has his jet decorated with an unusual paint scheme that his wife designed. “I don’t like bland-coloured airplanes," he explains. “I wanted to give mine a personal touch."
The design features dozens of circles of various sizes, each a shade of green or grey, which suggest Champagne bubbles. “The airplane is lighter than air, and bubbles are filled with air and float upward," says Kütemann. “The aircraft also is equipped with the latest avionics, and I wanted to give it a 21st-century feel in line with its technology."
Dassault Falcon’s in-house team executed the design. They used a 3-D simulator to project the bubbles onto a white model of the jet to see exactly what the scheme would look like before it was painted on the airframe. “It looks fantastic," says Kütemann. “We’ve never regretted it."
2. Sexyjet Gulfstream V by Duncan Aviation
Conduct an online search for images of the Sexyjet, a Gulfstream V that is available for charter, and you might think there is a fleet of them, in metallic pink, blue, and green. This is because the jet’s paint scheme – executed by Duncan Aviation – has a chameleonic quality, changing colour depending on how the light hits it. The design is the brainchild of the Sexyjet’s owner, Mark Bonfigli. He got the idea from the automotive industry, where companies have created paint schemes for cars that, like his jet’s, seemingly change hues in different lights. Bonfigli has ties to that industry: Before establishing the Sexy Beach Tennis brand of beach-tennis equipment and attire, he founded and operated Dealer.com, a Vermont-based company that provided digital-marketing services to automakers and auto dealers.
“It was one of the most complex paint schemes we have ever completed," says George Bajo, a technical sales rep with Duncan. “A design on paper goes nowhere without an extremely talented team of paint technicians who can bring it to life. In this case, through more than 3,000 hours of hard, physical labor, our team created a stunning paint scheme that will make a statement everywhere it goes."
Duncan used two primary colours for the project: black with a satin clear coat for the base and jade (the Sexy brand’s signature colour) with a gloss clear coat. Bonfigli says that the aircraft and its paint scheme are intended to draw attention to the brand. The jet’s unique appearance is also producing charter bookings for the aircraft. “It landed at London’s Heathrow a few weeks ago," he says, “and within hours of spotter pictures going up online, we had inquiries."
3. Bombardier Global 5000 by Happy Design Studio
One of Happy Design Studio’s most lauded aircraft paint schemes comes from a bread plate. The owner of the jet, a Bombardier Global 5000, loved the colours and pattern of squares on a plate he owned, and he wanted the studio’s owner, Didier Wolff, to translate the design’s essence to the exterior of his aircraft.
Wolff says that clients often struggle to articulate what they want for a livery. Part of a designer’s skill, he says, is to tease it out of the client. “I usually get a phone call from the owner," he says. “When we speak together I read him, and we start to feel good about the spirit of the collaboration. The result comes alive on the aircraft."
4. Cessna Citation X by Scheme Designers
This Cessna Citation X features a subtle livery design that Scheme Designers created to enhance the appearance of that jet model specifically. “The Citation X is a beautiful plane even without paint," says Scheme Designers CEO Craig Barnett. “We took the central red stripe down the fuselage through the windows to detract from the fact that they are small. The design also reflects the airflow across the plane in flight. We minimised the wing root fairings to make it look even faster than it is. The tail has a strong relationship to the fuselage, so the design had to reflect that, too"
A licensed pilot, Barnett founded Scheme Designers almost two decades ago after creating a paint scheme for his own plane. The operator of the shop that painted his plane was so impressed with the design that he asked Barnett to help his clients create schemes for their aircraft. Barnett and his company have subsequently created more than 12,000 designs. He says that his love of flying pervades everything his company does. “We are generally talking to people who are passionate about aircraft," he says. “We love what we do and are as excited by helping someone paint their Cessna 150 as we are by someone’s BBJ [Boeing Business Jet]."