Brussels Airlines will repaint its iconic Tintin Airbus A320 Rackham after the plane reached its repainting deadline this year. The aircraft’s outer paint job will remain identical, while the interior will be decorated with brand-new Tintin illustrations this time around.
Rackham will get a fresh repaint
Back in 2015, Brussels Airlines introduced the first of several aircraft painted with unique liveries. The plane, an Airbus A320 (registration: OO-SNB), was painted with a special Tintin livery and given the name ‘Rackham.’ Now, six years after Rackham was first painted, Brussels Airlines will replenish its outer coat and also add additional Tintin illustrations throughout the interior.
The airline will undertake the restoration project in partnership with Moulinsart studio. The company owns the rights to the works of Tintin creator Hergé, the pen name of writer Georges Remi. Moulinsart took part in the original painting project and will team up with Brussels Airlines’ maintenance division once again. The repainting and interior redesign project is expected to be complete in June 2021.
The aircraft itself is 20 years old and began life under German leisure airline LTU. Before Brussels Airlines acquired the plane (in 2011 on lease from AerCap), it was decorated with two different special liveries in the 2000s. In 2002, the plane was painted in the colors of German football club Hertha BSC, while in 2005 it was repainted in the colors of another football club, this time for the Spanish team RCD Mallorca.
One of the world’s most photographed planes
Rackham’s striking paint job has attracted hordes of aviation enthusiasts and Instagrammers ever since it first took to the skies. Within six months of receiving its new livery, the plane was mentioned by almost six million accounts on Twitter, while its official page on the Brussels Airlines website attracted over 100,000 views.
The plane’s paint scheme is derived from the 12th volume of The Adventures of Tintin, ‘Red Rackham’s Treasure.’ In the story, Tintin and his canine companion Snowy search for hidden pirate treasure in a shark-themed submarine. This inspired the final design on Rackham, which depicts Tintin and Snowy submerged in the ocean and a shark head at the aircraft’s nose.
Tintin is one of Belgium’s most famous cultural exports. The comic strip was first published in 1929 and has since become one of the top-ten best-selling comics of all time. Interestingly, passengers onboard Rackham can read the volume that inspired its paint job, Red Rackham’s Treasure, in Dutch, French or English.
Brussels Airlines’ other unique aircraft
After Rackham went down as a hit, Brussels Airlines started working on other unique liveries for its fleet. In 2016, the carrier introduced two more planes with special colors – Magritte and Trident. The first aircraft commemorates Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte, while Trident was created to support the Belgian national football team and has flown the team to its away games.
Brussels Airlines followed up with three more unique liveries – Amare, Aerosmurf and Bruegel. Although Rackham will have its livery replenished, Magritte will be repainted in regular Star Alliance colors. Additionally, Trident will receive a partial repaint and an updated interior. The plane is currently set to leave the Brussels Airlines fleet in November 2022.
With Rackham’s restored livery and new interior set to be completed next month, Brussels Airlines has promised that the plane will be a part of the fleet for at least the next five years. As for its other special planes, Brussels Airlines plans to keep them in the fleet for the next few years and will continue its ‘Belgian Icon’ series in the future.
Have you ever flown on any of Brussels Airlines’ special aircraft? Let us know all the details in the comments.