American Airlines artist rendering of the company's new look for its planes.
DALLAS (USA Today) -- American Airlines is rolling out a new look for its aircraft, marking the first fleetwide change to its aircraft exteriors since 1968.
The changes - which also includes a new company logo - bring a dramatically different look to American's planes, which for decades have been easy to identify by their simple, classic logos and polished metal exteriors.
American says it had to come up with a new "livery" for its plane exteriors as it begins to take delivery of recently ordered new-age jets that include composite materials - materials that cannot be polished as the airline's existing aluminum fuselages are.
"Since the polished metal look was no longer an option, the importance of the paint selection became critical to honoring American's silver bird legacy," American says in a release highlighting its new look. "Silver mica paint was chosen as a way to maintain the silver heritage which American's people and customers are passionate about, yet progress ahead with a clean new look."
The move also comes as big changes are afoot at American parent AMR, which is considering a merger with US Airways while it restructures under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"While we complete the evaluation of whether a merger can build on American's strengths, we remain steadfast in each step we take to renew our airline, a step we take with great respect for our name American," American CEO Tom Horton says in the release. "Today marks important progress in that journey as we unveil a new and updated look for the first time in more than 40 years."
American also will extend its new look to its regional affiliate American Eagle.
By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY