Virgin Atlantic’s first A350-1000 has been unveiled in Toulouse in full Virgin livery. It’s been in the paint shop for almost a month, but we think it’s definitely been worth the wait.
There’s nothing we like better here at Simple Flying that the gleam of a new coat of paint on an aircraft. This week’s been a real treat for livery reveals, with the stunning Air France A350 catching our eye just yesterday.
Today, there’s another big reveal to get our avgeek pulses racing, as Virgin unveil G-VPOP in its final livery, standing in the paint shop at Toulouse. If there was ever a reason to fall in love with the A350-1000, it’s standing right here in glorious white and red.
Eight days of work
The stunning Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 has taken a team of 20 Airbus specialists eight days to complete, according to Virgin. That follows on from months of behind the scenes work in the Airbus Livery Design Office, where 3D modelling ensures everything lines up just perfectly, and that it all meets the intricate safety requirements too.
Virgin Atlantic being Virgin Atlantic, they specified some of the most technically challenging paint finishes around. This includes an unusual paint type called Andaro, applied in red to the wing tips, engine covers and vertical stabilizer, and in aubergine for the lettering. Virgin say that this is unique to them in the airline world, and adds a stunning gleam to the livery, particularly when it catches the sun.
But even their exacting requirements were no match for the expertise at Airbus. The paint team had been practicing with Andaro for months to get it just right for the real plane, using a technique of stacking tinted lacquers onto a salmon colored metallic base. Too many layers and the hue is made darker, so to get precisely the right color on multiple panels when applied by many different sprayers is really quite an achievement.
You can read more about the paint process in detail in the Virgin blog.
A sticky challenge
If you’ve ever applied a decal to your car or bike, you’ll know just how fiddly even small stickers can be to apply. Well, imagine trying to apply a 3.66m tall V to the side of an Airbus A350 without trapping bubbles or creasing the letter; the stress levels must be immense.
As well as applying the 34.3m long Virgin Atlantic logo to the side of the aircraft, there are hundreds of mandatory little warning signs and stencils that must be applied all over the plane. The finishing touch is the 66cm Rolls Royce sticker applied to the huge Trent XWB engines, the largest in the sky.
Following a thorough inspection by Virgin Atlantic engineers, the job has been signed off and the aircraft is ready to leave the paint shop I think you’ll agree it looks jaw droppingly beautiful. But wait, isn’t there something missing?
Eagle eyed readers will have noticed that there’s no ‘flying icon’ on the nose of G-VPOP. Indeed, this first A350 is slated to feature ‘Zadie’, one of five new icons developed by Virgin to better represent Britain’s diversity. Virgin have said that this will be applied once the aircraft reaches London.
This is the one you’ve been waiting for. Our @Airbus A350 livery is here, and we think you’ll agree it’s looking beyond fabulous. There’s just one special addition to make when the plane arrives home in London – our new flying icon. ✈️https://t.co/vF5MnsKhKM pic.twitter.com/P99nK9dyuH
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) June 21, 2019
While Virgin haven’t yet revealed the precise date of delivery, they have said it will be ‘summer’ this year. Well, Virgin, we’re nearing the end of June so… soon maybe?