13 great aircraft liveries you can spot at Brussels Airport

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Airlines take great pride in their aircraft liveries. It is a vital part of their marketing strategy and improves the visibility of their brand at major airports all over the world.

That’s why most airlines apply one single aircraft livery on their entire fleet. While most of these liveries are stylish and classy, some of them are a bit ‘boring’, especially if the livery is mostly a white fuselage with white engine cowlings and a white tail, and the airline’s name and/or website address painted in a generic font on both sides of the fuselage.

Fortunately, quite some airlines have realized this as well and are doing great efforts to stand out of the ordinary. Even though their particular standard livery is definitely not ‘boring’ at all, they have developed great one-off designs to be featured on a single aircraft. Most of these designs are very colourful and will commemorate a unique feature of their home country, a famous person or even a movie character. Other designs are the airline’s own livery of decades ago, often referred to as a ‘heritage livery’ or ‘retro livery’.

Here are some of these unique aircraft liveries you can spot at Brussels Airport. Most of them even fly to the capital of Europe on a regular basis.

1. Brussels Airlines – Rackham

Airbus A320-214 | Brussels Airlines | Registration: OO-SNB | Msn: 1493 | Name: Rackham

This aircraft was the very first Brussels Airlines Airbus to receive a special ‘Belgian Icon’ livery. It wears a unique Tintin livery and was unveiled by Brussels Airlines and Moulinsart during a special event on Monday 16 March 2015. The aircraft was baptized ‘Rackham’ and is disguised as the famous shark submarine from the Tintin album ‘Red Rackham’s Treasure’.

The aircraft is deployed on all short- and medium-haul destinations of Brussels Airlines where the airline operates an Airbus A320 such as Geneva (GVA), Barcelona (BCN), Tel Aviv (TLV) and Madrid (MAD). This means that, on normal days, it is possible to see the aircraft take off or land at Brussels Airport at least once.

You can find more info and the schedule of this aircraft for the next few days here.

2. Icelandair – Hekla Aurora

Boeing 757-25C | Icelandair | Registration: TF-FIU | Msn: 26243 / Ln: 603 | Name: Hekla Aurora

Hekla Aurora is part of Icelandair’s transatlantic fleet and was presented to the world in February 2015. It wears a unique Aurora Borealis livery showcasing the stunning colours of the northern lights. This Boeing 757 is a vital part of Icelandair’s #MyStopover campaign, in which the airline offers its passengers the opportunity to stay in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare. The aircraft provides passengers an experience of the Aurora Borealis while on board, both with its interior mood lighting, and the new Aurora Borealis livery on the exterior.

The aircraft is operated throughout the entire Icelandair network, including Brussels Airport where it made its very first appearance on Sunday 10 May 2015.

You can find more info and the schedule of this aircraft for the next few days here.

3. Etihad Airways – Blue Moon Rising

Airbus A330-243 | Etihad Airways | Registration: A6-EYE | Msn: 688 | Name: Blue Moon Rising

On Thursday 7 July 2011 Etihad Airways took its sponsorship of Manchester City Football Club to new heights by unveiling its Airbus A330 ‘Blue Moon Rising’ to the world. The aircraft wears a stylish blue Manchester City livery which took a team of 40 painters 18 days to complete at the airline’s maintenance facilities in Abu Dhabi. The airline has been a sponsor of Manchester City since 2009.

The aircraft flies to many of Etihad Airway’s European destinations, including Dublin, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt and Brussels. Typically it flies to Brussels Airport at least once a month.

4. TUI Fly Belgium – Family Hotels

Boeing 737-8K5 | TUI Fly Belgium | Registration: OO-JAF | Msn: 35133 / Ln: 2313 | Name: n/a

At the end of February 2016, TUI Fly Belgium (still operating under the name ‘Jetairfly’ back then) revealed a new striking livery on one of its Boeing 737s. The airline painted the fuselage of Boeing 737-8K5 OO-JAF in a remarkable black livery to promote TUI’s Family Life Hotels. This Boeing 737 is part of an international series of six aircraft that carry the label of the following hotel products: RIU Hotels & Resorts, Robinson, Magic Life, TUI Blue and Family Life.

The aircraft is deployed across the entire network of TUI Fly Belgium, including flights to/from Liege (LGG) and Ostend (OST). As a result, it cannot be guaranteed that you will see this aircraft at Brussels Airport on a daily basis.

5. Aer Lingus – Green Spirit

Airbus A320-214 | Aer Lingus | Registration: EI-DEO | Msn: 2486 | Name: St Sebastian

This Airbus A320 was revealed by Aer Lingus on Sunday 10 May 2015. It wears a unique ‘Green Spirit’ livery to promote the partnership between the Irish airline and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) as Aer Lingus became the official airline of the Irish Rugby Team.

The partnership with the IRFU is part of the airline’s strategy to promote the brand and its commitment in supporting the best of the Irish.

The aircraft operates on Aer Lingus’ entire short-haul network to the UK and continental Europe, so occasionally you can spot it at Brussels Airport.

6. Brussels Airlines – Magritte

Airbus A320-214 | Brussels Airlines | Registration: OO-SNC | Msn: 1797 | Name: Magritte

This aircraft was the second Brussels Airlines Airbus to receive a special ‘Belgian Icon’ livery. It wears a unique Magritte livery and was unveiled by Brussels Airlines and Foundation Magritte during a special event on Monday 21 March 2016. The aircraft is a unique flying piece of art, dedicated to the famous Belgian artist René Magritte.

On the outside, the design incorporates two of Magritte’s paintings, La Clairvoyance (1936) and Le Retour (1940). The cabin interior has undergone a surrealist makeover as well and features a flock of cloud-filled birds, taken from Le Retour (1940) and als the work La Belle-Société (1965-66), which features the famous man in the bowler hat.

Like Rackham, this aircraft is also deployed on all short- and medium-haul destinations of Brussels Airlines where the airline operates an Airbus A320. This means that, on normal days, it is possible to see the aircraft take off or land at Brussels Airport at least once.

You can find more info and the schedule of this aircraft for the next few days here.

7. Air Malta – Retro

Airbus A320-214 | Air Malta | Registration: 9H-AEI | Msn: 2189 | Name: n/a

This is one of the few aircraft wearing a ‘retro livery’ that can be spotted at Brussels Airport. The aircraft was unveiled by Air Malta on Wednesday 16 April 2014 as the airline kicked off its 40th anniversary celebrations with the arrival of this aircraft freshly repainted with the airline’s original 1970s livery.

The aircraft was repainted in Ostrava (Czech Republic). It was previously being used in Mexico on a long-term lease to Interjet.

Air Malta’s first flight was held on April 1, 1974 when a Boeing 720B flew from Luqa to London Heathrow.

Airbus A320-214 9H-AEI operates on the entire short-haul network of Air Malta, including Frankfurt (FRA), London Heathrow (LHR), Vienna (VIE) and Brussels (BRU). Usually 9H-AEI can be spotted at Brussels Airport at least a few times per month.

8. Icelandair – Vatnajökull

Boeing 757-256 | Icelandair | Registration: TF-FIR | Msn: 26242 / Ln: 593 | Name: Vatnajökull

Vatnajökull is Icelandair’s second special livery plane and it was presented to the world on Saturday 13 May 2017. The hand-painted livery, commissioned as part of Icelandair’s 80th anniversary, represents the beauty and grandeur of the Vatnajokull glacier, located in southeast Iceland.

The aircraft was spray painted by the same team of artists who who created Icelandair’s other special Boeing 757, ‘Hekla Aurora’. It took some 2.500 man hours or 24 days to apply this stunning special livery onto TF-FIR.

Together with Hekla Aurora, this aircraft promotes Icelandair’s #MyStopover campaign, in which the airline offers its passengers the opportunity to stay in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare.

Vatnajökull is operated throughout the entire Icelandair network, including Brussels Airport.

You can find more info and the schedule of this aircraft for the next few days here.

9. Eurowings – Europa Park

Airbus A320-214 | Eurowings | Registration: D-ABDQ | Msn: 3121 | Name: n/a

This Airbus A320 wears a striking blue livery emblazoned with the two beloved Europa Park characters Ed and Edda. The special livery promotes the partnership between Eurowings and Europa Park and was unveiled in April 2017 as Europa Park opened its new major attraction ‘Voletarium’, the largest Flying Theater on the continent. The A320 was pained in Norwich and around 350 liters of paint were used to apply the new blue livery.

The A320 is based in Stuttgart and operates through the entire short-haul network of Eurowings, including Brussels.

10. Brussels Airlines – Trident

Airbus A320-214 | Brussels Airlines | Registration: OO-SNA | Msn: 1441 | Name: Trident

This aircraft was the third Brussels Airlines Airbus to receive a special ‘Belgian Icon’ livery. It wears a unique Belgian Red Devils livery and was unveiled to the staff of Brussels Airlines on Tuesday 4 April 2016. The airline had planned to organise a big media event, but after the 22 March 2016 attacks at Brussels Airport, the event was cancelled and a more intimate event was organised. Nevertheless, the airline presented Trident to fans of the Belgian Red Devils on Sunday 5 June 2016.

After Rackham and Magritte, Trident was the third Brussels Airlines Airbus A320 to be painted in a unique livery to promote one of the national prides of Belgium. The Belgian Red Devils are one of the biggest ambassadors of Belgium and Brussels Airlines is the official airline of the football team. The Belgian Red Devils themselves teamed up with designers to create this unique livery.

Like Rackham and Magritte, this aircraft is also deployed on all short- and medium-haul destinations of Brussels Airlines where the airline operates an Airbus A320. This means that, on normal days, it is possible to see the aircraft take off or land at Brussels Airport at least once.

You can find more info and the schedule of this aircraft for the next few days here.

11. Swiss International Air Lines – Fichtre

Bombardier CSeries CS300 | Swiss International Air Lines | Registration: HB-JCA | Msn: 55010 | Name: Fichtre

This Bombardier CSeries CS300 regional jet is the only Swiss CS300 wearing a special livery. As the airline has strengthened its positioning and commitment to the French-speaking part of Switzerland by renewing its Geneva fleet with the Bombardier CS300, it demonstrated this commitment by painting its first Bombardier CS300 in a special livery designed by Romand artist Mathias Forbach, also known as Fichtre.

As mentioned, this regional jet is based in Geneva. Swiss has no direct flight between Geneva and Brussels at moment of writing, so under normal circumstances this Bombardier CS300 will not operate to Brussels Airport. Fortunately however, sometimes Swiss relocates HB-JCA to its base at Zurich, so occasionally it could be deployed on the route between Zurich and Brussels. HB-JCA will wear its new colours for 12 months so it is expected to be repainted in 2018.

12. Brussels Airlines – Amare

Airbus A320-214 | Brussels Airlines | Registration: OO-SNF | Msn: 2810 | Name: Amare

This aircraft was the fourth Brussels Airlines Airbus to receive a special ‘Belgian Icon’ livery. It wears a special Tomorrowland livery to pay tribute the world’s biggest dance music festival and was unveiled during a special event on Thursday 23 February 2017.

It took nine months to finish the creation of Amare.  After an intensive period of sketches, 3D drawings and model building, the design was ready for painting. Eight artists, including a father and son with many years of experience and the Brussels Airlines and Tomorrowland team, worked non-stop for two weeks to airbrush this impressive print onto the Airbus A320. First a gigantic print of the design was created, before being copied onto the airplane, a 37.56 metres long and 11 metres high Airbus, with registration number OO-SNF.  After this process, the colours were mixed and the aircraft was painted by hand.

On Friday 10 March 2017, Brussels Airlines organised a unique aircraft visit of Amare.

Like Rackham, Magritte and Trident, this aircraft is also deployed on all short- and medium-haul destinations of Brussels Airlines where the airline operates an Airbus A320. This means that, on normal days, it is possible to see the aircraft take off or land at Brussels Airport at least once.

You can find more info and the schedule of this aircraft for the next few days here.

13. All Nippon Airways – R2-D2 ANA JET

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner | All Nippon Airways | Registration: JA873A | Msn: 34530 / Ln: 345 | Name: R2-D2 ANA JET

This Dreamliner has been deployed only very few times on All Nippon Airways’ daily flight between NRT and BRU and it is not expected to be flying to Brussels Airport ever again. However, the design of this special livery is so unique (and Star Wars is my favourite sci-fi franchise…) that I just had to add it to this list.

In 2015 Japanese airline All Nippon Airways launched a five-year Star Wars project, to promote the world-renowned science-fiction franchise across its global network. The project includes the painting of four aircraft, each wearing its unique Star Wars livery:

  • R2-D2 ANA JET: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner JA873A
  • BB-8 ANA JET: Boeing 777-381ER JA789A
  • STAR WARS ANA JET: Boeing 767-381(ER) JA604A
  • C-3PO ANA JET: Boeing 777-281(ER) JA743A

When the R2-D2 ANA JET was revealed in late 2015, All Nippon Airways stated that it would deploy the aircraft three times on its newly opened daily flight between Tokyo Narita and Brussels Airport. This was quite surprising as this route is operated with a Boeing 787-8 instead of a Boeing 787-9.

On Wednesday 4 November 2015, aviation enthusiasts living near Brussels Airport could spot the R2-D2 ANA JET for the very first time as it landing on RWY 25L as flight NH231 NRT-BRU. Two days later the jet already showed up again at Brussels Airport. Less than one month later, it made its third appearance at Brussels Airport, this time in favourable weather conditions. Since then, the R2-D2 ANA JET has almost never been deployed on the route between Tokyo and Brussels, except on Sunday 6 November 2016 for instance.

As already stated, chances of seeing this aircraft ever again at Brussels Airport are very slim, but there’s always a small possibility of an aircraft type upgrade on the NRT-BRU route. However, if you live in Europe and would like to see the R2-D2 ANA JET, you can still go to Paris (CDG), Munich (MUC) or Dusseldorf (DUS) as All Nippon Airways still operates the aircraft on these three European destinations.

23 November 2017

2 COMMENTS

  1. From the top of my head, I would add “Blacknose” as well, Austrian’s only “real” special livery (not just stickers): a retro-painted A320, flying in short- and medium-haul routes. It visits Brussels frequently.

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