Tracey Emin Inspires BA Dove Plane For Olympics

British Airways reveal first painted Dove Plane to celebrate London 2012

British Airways has unveiled the first of nine painted planes in celebration of the London 2012 Olympics. The A319 has been painted to look like a dove, and was designed by Brighton-based designer Pascal Anson. Its first flight will be today on BA’s 1420 flight from Heathrow to Copenhagen.

Pascal was chosen as the designer in a competition run by BA, and judged by eminent figures such as Turner prize-nominated artist Tracey Emin. And Emin has mentored the Kingston University design tutor through the project.

Emin says of the design: ‘It would have been easy to put a motif or a new pattern on the side of an aircraft, but Pascal’s design takes it to a whole other level’: ‘He uses the entire livery of the aircraft to redefine the way you look at it. The dove is a stunning piece of work and will bring real excitement to anyone who flies on one of the repainted planes.’

The idea of a dove design comes from a question as old as aeronautics itself; ‘I’ve often looked up at aircraft landing and wondered if it’s a bird or a plane, and the idea developed from there’, Pascal explained. But he also chose the dove because it is symbol of peace and social unity befitting the Olympics.

It was the most complicated project ever undertaken by BA’s operations manager for external appearance, David Barnes, and his team. This is because of the artistic intricacy of the design (try making a plane look like a feathered bird), and the fact that it encompassed the whole plane, not just the tailfin, as is traditional.

It took a team of 10 people and 950 hours to paint the plane, which is 33.8 metres long, and has a 34 metre wingspan. 500 litres of paint were needed for the job, which was applied by technicians on hydraulic jetties.

Pascal wanted to use a metallic colour but the technicians faced the problem that metallic paints are forbidden on aircraft because they interfere with radar signal. And so a new mica resin has been created to for bright gold finish, christened as ‘dove gold’.

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