Why does the Airbus A350 have dark eyeliner?

Try a Google-image search for Airbus A350. No wait, let me do it for you. No matter what airline/paint scheme, it’s got a dark “mask” around the windshield panels. Why is that? Is this a technical requirement? A contractual requirement by Airbus to make the A350 stand out from the crowd?

Going from this photo, it looks like there is a single sheet of glass covering all of the smaller windows and the black area. So the black part seems to be a separate structural element from the fuselage, not a part of the exterior that is specifically painted black.

Might it reduce glare from the edge of the window?

anything I can find is that it’s just an appearance decision from Airbus.


see post #31. Mostly to keep it looking like the original design concept.

edit: Airbus calls it “shades” livery.



Planes often fly above, between or even inside clouds, which reflect sunlight. You’ve got sun shining from above, reflecting from below, and possibly the sides.

Source: Captain Joe’s youtube channel.

I don’t buy it. They’d all be like that if that was so important. I think it’s just for aesthetics.

Agree with Richard. The one part of the airplane that’s not going to be visible from inside the cockpit is the immediate surround of the cockpit windshield/windows.

By coincidence, today in Boston I saw my first A350 up close. A Lufthansa jet was parked facing the roadway as we drove off to the hotel. Other than the funky windshield colors it looked surprisingly ordinary. Not even as distinctive as a 787. Which isn’t all that distinctive from the rest of the generic tube-and-wing twins.

Something is missing from our industry when you can’t tell whether you’re looking at an E190 up close or a 777 far away. Used to be each type was real distinct. Same with cars in the 1960s vs now.

I don’t have an answer but here are three pictures taken during A350 assembly that may provide aome clues.

Front view

Cockpit only


  • Winglets or not
  • Number of windows/rows
  • Height of windows vs. fuselage
  • Number of exits

If you can’t tell an Embraer from a 777 from a distance, you’re not really trying.

They’re still the same basic shape though. Exits, windows, and even winglets aren’t always obvious from a distance.

LSLGuy knows the answer to the question he poses. There is an optimum shape for a passenger jet flying at economic speeds, that fits in with current airport infrastructure, and is economic to produce. Some of the concept drawings of new airliners can be fairly interesting, but the practicalities of design and construction generally results in something that looks almost identical to the previous generation.

You get a lot more variation in military types because they’re often designed for very different roles.

Great, now even airliners are going for the ‘murdered out’ look. Next thing you know, they’ll be adding hydraulics, spinners (sure, they’ll CALL them fans, but …), carbon fiber bodies, and wheels bigger than the pilot.

They are selling raccoon faced planes to the raccoon airline market which in turn services the general raccoon public.

If you ever have some time to kill in Boston, give a shout. Always happy to meet a fellow Doper.

I have a friend who flies A330s for Cathay. They have recently introduced the A350 and the types are similar enough that he will be (or already is, haven’t seen him for a while) dual endorsed and flying both types.

By “distance” I meant 5 miles. Not 1/4 mile. Agree that from across the airport they’re pretty obvious who is who. Though less so when you can only see part of them from an odd angle.

Late add …

From a couple miles altitude and a couple miles lateral offset even with an unobstructed side view a 767-300 and a 737-300/400 look almost identical. Likewise the 777-200 & 767-300. The biggest clue is how quickly the airplane goes through it’s own length. But unless you’re real confident what speed they’re going, even that isn’t real definitive. Wingletted 767s look a lot like wingletted 737s.

Contrast that with the days when substantially every airliner in the US was either a 707, 727, stubby 737, 747, or DC-8, DC-9, or DC-10. It’d be easy to confuse a 707 with a (non-stretched) DC-8 at a distance. Otherwise, each was real distinctly, obviously, grossly different.

Just one more change since the Olden Dayes.

Because it then looks like a raccoon. Raccoons are cute. People buy cute things.

I am pretty sure “cuteness of product” is an evaluation criteria in the Request For Proposal (RFP).

Just yesterday, I was wondering why ‘all’ heavies’ windshield frames are unpainted.

Windscreens on heavies (and most other aircraft that are approved for operation in icing conditions, to include helicopters) are electrically heated for anti-icing; they’re also designed such that the heating improves the bird-strike resistance of the windscreens. The outer surface get pretty hot when the heat is cranked up in no-kidding icing conditions, so to prevent the paint from blistering/charring/burning off, they’re left unpainted.

I was going to say Airbuses have those goofy blunted-noses, where Boeing has sharp noses (look at a 737NG compared to an A-320)… but comparing the 787 and the A-350 specifically, wow, even the nose looks almost identical. Huh. The Boeing’s still sharper, but not by much.