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Air Canada Unveils Special TCA Livery

Air Canada’s retro Trans-Canada Air Lines A220. (Photo: Air Canada)

Air Canada on Thursday revealed a new special retro livery on one of its new Airbus A220 aircraft. The plane, registered as C-GNBN, features the livery of Trans-Canada Air Lines, the immediate predecessor to what is now known as Air Canada.

Air Canada posted pictures of the aircraft, which is still in the paint shop, on its social media channels on Thursday morning. The aircraft has not flown yet.

This isn’t the first aircraft to feature a Trans-Canada livery. Previously, a company Airbus A319 registered C-FZUH bore the same paint for over twenty years. That A319 was retired last month, and this new A220 ensures that the Trans-Canada livery lives on.

This A220 carries significant sentimental value for many Canadians. Though the Trans-Canada brand was retired in 1965 in favor of Air Canada, many older Canadians may still remember flying Trans-Canada on classic aircraft such as the Lockheed Super Constellation and Douglas DC-3. This A220, ironically the most modern aircraft Air Canada flies, pays homage to a legendary airline that many Canadians came to love throughout Trans-Canada’s nearly-thirty-year existence.

This new aircraft has drawn parallels with British Airways, which, before the coronavirus pandemic, painted several Boeing 747s in retro liveries to honor its own predecessors. The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA) merged in 1972 to form British Airways, and in 1974 the carriers consolidated their branding to eliminate their iconic liveries from the skies. Interestingly, Air Canada’s retro A220 was unveiled two years to the day after British Airways took the first of four of its retro 747s.

Air Canada’s decision may go beyond pure sentimentality. Often, airlines paint aircraft in retro liveries to maintain the trademarks on the logos and branding of predecessors that have merged into modern carriers. American Airlines operates aircraft painted in liveries belonging to the likes of U.S. Airways, America West and others for exactly this reason.

This isn’t the first special A220 Air Canada has unveiled this week. Soon before releasing their Trans-Canada aircraft, the Canadian national airline dedicated another A220, C-GROV, to outgoing CEO Calin Rovinescu. Rovinescu’s name, signature and time served are printed right below C-GROV’s cockpit window.

Air Canada currently has 16 A220s in service. It has plans to take 17 more of the type.

John McDermott


  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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