BA100: 70. The Chatham Dockyard Livery

100 Years Of British Airways: The Chatham Dockyard livery, first introduced on a single aircraft in 1997 and now used across BA’s fleet.

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British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft Wingtip
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft Wingtip (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to our 100 part series on the history of BA and its predecessor airlines.

The Chatham Dockyard livery was first introduced in June 1997 as part of a now infamous rebranding of BA known as “Project Utopia”.

It takes its name from the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent. The tail fin bears a red, white and blue interpretation of the Union Flag, the official name of the national flag for the United Kingdom.

Based on the original flag used by Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the Chatham Dockyard livery was created for BA by the Admiral’s Original Flag Loft factory in Chatham which had made flags for more than 400 years. The factory has since closed.

Originally, only Concorde was to feature the Chatham Dockyard livery with all other aircraft being painted in up to 50 different tail fins featuring images developed by artists from around the world.

However, all aircraft were to bear a new BA logo and three dimensional speedmarque towards the nose of the aircraft.

Following an adverse public reaction to the World Images tail fins, BA initially decided to paint half of aircraft in the Chatham Dockyard livery, before deciding to withdraw the World Images tail fins altogether.

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB London Heathrow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
British Airways Concorde G-BOAB London Heathrow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
British Airways Concorde G-BOAB London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde G-BOAB London Heathrow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

20 years on, the Chatham Dockyard livery has remained to this day, albeit with slight modifications. All aircraft are painted in bright white rather than pearl white (Concorde always had to be painted bright white for technical reasons) and many aircraft now feature the BA “To Fly. To Serve.” crest.

BA’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft also feature the Chatham Dockyard flag on its wing-tips.

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