BA denies any risk from its arty tailfins

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The Independent Online
BRITISH Airways dismissed as "rubbish" any suggestion its new multicoloured tailfins (above) were a hazard to safety, writes Randeep Ramesh

It was responding to two instances of alleged "livery confusion" when taxiing pilots failed to recognise BA planes. The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating both reports.

The controversial designs, replacing the Union flag, were introduced last year to reflect a more "international" look.

Experts say the move represents good commercial sense, as by 2000, 80 per cent of passengers will originate from outside the UK.

A letter to Flight, the industry magazine, also highlighted the growing trend in "global" designs.

"To suggest that an aircraft's tail colour scheme could be a flight safety risk is incredible ... Many carriers, including Air Braathens, Qantas and South African Airways have aircraft painted in `aircraft art'."

BA insists safety has not been compromised.

The first incident related to an incident at Heathrow in January, when the crew of an unnamed foreign airliner failed to recognise a BA Airbus bound for Copenhagen as a group of planes moved towards the runway.

The report also noted that the "new livery can be misidentified by other taxiing aircraft and also air traffic control."

In February a similar incident citing "livery confusion" occurred after a jumbo-jet crew failed to recognise a BAe 146 in one of the new designs.