Etihad’s new livery: everything you need to know about it (and more)

By Norebbo •  7 min read

As far as I’m concerned, there is no better airline livery in existence than the new Etihad livery. It’s clean, classy, and far more interesting to look at then all of the other euro-white liveries that seem to be all the rage these days.

Every time that I look at Etihad’s new livery applied to any aircraft type, I always see something new that I hadn’t seen before. It’s a brilliant design that is busy without being overly complex. Colorful without being gaudy. And it fits so well with the spirit of the airline and the vibrant culture of the United Arab Emirates.

A brief summary of the stunning new Etihad livery

Launched in September 2014, the official name for this delivery is “Facets of Abu Dhabi”. It was inspired by the colors and tones of the United Arab Emirates, as well as the geometric architecture of Abu Dhabi. If only the Emirates livery could have been this bold…

Etihad 787-9 livery

Etihad’s new livery looks stunning on my Boeing 787-9 template. I mean, how many other aircraft color schemes can you name that have this much gold?

The colors themselves are the most interesting to me, since they literally tried to match the colors of the sand of the surrounding deserts of the region. For example, the darker brown is a reference to the sand color of the Liwa Desert, while the lighter colors pay homage to the brighter sand colors found in the north. It almost reminds me of some of the vintage Continental Airlines livery designs.

As a visual designer myself, I love hearing stuff like this. Do you really think that the designers of the new Lufthansa livery put as much time and effort into the color choices for that one? I bet you anything they didn’t.

Anyway, Landor Associates were the ones responsible for this the beautiful Etihad livery. Like they’ve done with so many great airline liveries of the past, they absolutely nailed this one. Personally, I think it’s their best creation yet.

How was Etihad’s new livery created?

The process of illustrating the new Etihad livery must’ve been a time-consuming (and head-scratching) process. Based on my own personal experience, complex designs tend to take longer to finalize since there are so many ways to tweak and modify it to get it looking just right.

etihad logo

Did you know that the Etihad logo features a drop shadow when applied to the aircraft? I didn’t. Just another neat little detail I learned as I was creating the graphics for this article!

Looking at this livery on the 787-9, it’s likely that the designers started in the vertical stabilizer and worked their way down into the fuselage. The triangular shapes are almost pixel-like, which leads me to believe that this design started out as a computer-generated series of abstract facets and triangles. It was only after they had something to work with that they manually went in and adjusted the shapes to flow correctly into the rest of the aircraft.

This is just my personal opinion of course. This design may very well have been illustrated by hand, puzzle piece by puzzle piece, with great thought given to each shape. Who knows? All I’m saying is that I see the origins of computer-generated patterns and shapes when I see this livery.

If you’re curious, here is a detailed video showing how I created the Etihad 787-9 illustrations for this article:

Pros and cons of this livery design

Shortly after the unveiling, James Hogan (the president and CEO of Etihad) stated that this new this redesign “continued their tradition of breaking norms and doing things differently.” I can agree with that statement 100%. This is a literally unlike any other airline livery in existence, and I applaud them for the amount of time, effort, and money they put into it.

However, it’s not perfect. Below are the pros and cons of the Etihad livery – both from an objective and subjective point of view.

Pros

Cons

Full color palette of the Etihad livery

As I mentioned above, the inspiration for this color palette came directly from the deserts in and around the United Arab Emirates. Although I’ve been unable to find an official color palette from Etihad themselves, I did a little research into their brand colors. Here is what I’ve determined to be the full list of colors used in this livery:

Etihad livery colors

The full color palette of the new Etihad livery

Note: I may be off in my assumptions a little bit. Trying to find photographs which depict these colors accurately was difficult (due to many of them being metallic), but I did what I could with what I was able to find. I also cross-referenced these photos with official marketing materials from Etihad (printed and digital) to come up with this list.

Norebbo

My name is Scott, and I started in the design industry over 20 years ago with a bachelors degree in Industrial Design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. I have an extensive background in both 2D and 3D illustration, and these days, I spend a majority of my time creating aircraft templates and airliner art. I’m basically an airplane dork.

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