Trans-Australia Airlines Museum

TAA - Aircraft Livery

The Beginning

DC3 AES Original

The original DC3 livery as it was on the first flight.

The Late 1940s

1949 Convair Livery

More design has gone into the lettering to create a flowing style in the red, white, and blue colours.

The Early 1950s

Staid identity on a Electra

Early 50s Livery

Aircraft liveries always conformed to the established design reflecting the staid corporate identity, incorporating speed lines with lettering of the defined company as shown above.

TAA 1950 logo

The Dayglow Change - late 1950s

TAA was the first airline in Australia to introduce a variation to the standard livery of its aircraft, when it painted the tails of aircraft in the late 1950s with a bright orange 'DAYGLOW'.

Vickers Dayglo

Vickers Viscount VH-TVP

The Dayglow colour was used because it was thought to make a plane easily visible against the Australian background.

The Dayglow orange being much easier to spot than polished aluminum, which tends to mirror the color of its surroundings, thus making it less obvious.

Lockheed Electra in Dayglo

Lockheed Electra

One point about the use of Dayglow that is not widely known, is that in the late 50s, the United States FAA proposed that all civilian aircraft were to have 25% of their surface painted Day-glow orange.

TAA were therefore ahead of the possible requirement which did not eventuate here or in the US.

Fokker Dayglow

Fokker Friendship VH-TFK

Introduced as a safety factor, it only lasted 3 years, before the airline reverted to the standard company livery, as the 'Dayglow' paint work was subject to fading, weathering and peeling.

Changes in the 1960s

New T Jet Livery

With the 1960s came the T-Jets and a change in livery, white tops, Blue T on the tail and a blue stripe and the letters of TAA in red.

The Look of the 70s

The Blue T Tail

The 1970s saw the introduction of the White T on a Blue Tail, the blue stripe and the letters TAA in golden brown..

World breaking Change - 1979

In 1979 TAA decided that it would depict and promote the most popular destinations in Australia by the use of images painted on the aircraft.

Ayres Rock painted tail

Obviously the 'Red Centre of Australia" and Uluru (Ayers Rock) were world recognizable places, and so was the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

Coral Island tail

Tasmania and its convict colonial history and the Queensland Gold Coast and Surfer's Paradise were other nominations.

So when the next major overhaul was programmed, four aircraft were destined to become a part of aviation history.

In fact only 2 aircraft ever got painted in this manner, The Coral Islander, and the Central Australian.

The Goldcoasters proposed tail design is shown below

Gold Coaster Tail

and here is how the whole 727 was to look in its new Goldcoast livery.

The Goldcoaster

The Coral Islander

A Douglas DC9-30, VH-TJL entered the hangar first. Needless to say the hangar doors were securely closed until the work was completed on the first aircraft, and then it was displayed for the world to see - the first aircraft in the world to be used as a promotion for a holiday destination.

Coral Islander DC9

The DC9-30 was confined to the Queensland area, and it became the major promotional 'tool' for both TAA and the Queensland resorts.

The Central Australian

The second aircraft was the Boeing 727-276 "Central Australian" which operated across Australia promoting the "Red Centre".

Ayres Rock tail

An economical downturn in the early 1980s would see the destination livery program being abandoned.

The original two 'destination' painted aircraft would continue to retain these special liveries until they required a major overhaul.

The New 1980s Livery

TAA 1980s logo

The new 1980s Logo and Livery


The aircraft which were scheduled for promotional livery would now be painted in the standard NEW livery.

Boeing 727 200

Boeing 727-200

TAA would again change the livery of VH-TAA when it leased this aircraft to Air Nuigini in 1984, painting the 'Bird of Paradise' image on the sides of the aircraft .

Air Nuigini A300B4

AIRBUS VH-TAA 'James Cook' with a new coat of paint, leased to Air Nuigini.

1986 Australian Airlines

Australian Logo

The last livery change would occur when TAA became AUSTRALIAN AIRLINES in August 1986, and the airline that had served the nation as 'TAA the Friendly Way' converted to the new Australian Airlines with a new corporate image.

737 in New Livery

There was another noticeable change with the introduction of a new slogan,

"the way we do the things we do"

New Theme

a new advertising campaign, and image of an airline heading towards the year 2000.

The scene was now set for the Government to implement the next phase of its plan, amalgamating the two government owned airlines (QANTAS and AUSTRALIAN), and offering these as a going concern to the world market, with some restrictions. During these changing times as Australian was merged into QANTAS, the temporary logo (shown below) was introduced to maintain the link between Australian Airlines (previously TAA).

Qantas Australian

Another quirk of the merger was the introduction of the slogan "The Australian Airline" which began to appear on QANTAS aircraft. To some old-timers this was seen as the return of TAA on the aircraft. (taking the first letter of the slogan)