Special Markings
International Committee of the Red Cross

of the International Committee of the Red Cross

This section describes and illustrates the special markings used by aircraft of the International Committee of the Red Cross, since its formation:

                       Main Marking                                             Fin Flash

Aircraft of the ICRC during the Biafra Airlift were marked with the distinctive Red Cross insignia on a white background. This marking was displayed above and below each wing, on the rear fuselage and on the fin. The fuselage marking was omitted on the C-97G. In addition, the aircraft were painted white overall. The titles INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS where carried on the upper fuselage sides.

                  Main Marking                                                       Fin Flash

As specified by the Geneva Conventions, aircraft of the ICRC are marked with the Red Cross insignia on a white background. This marking is displayed on the rear fuselage sides and often also on the fuselage belly, wing centre section or outer wing. In addition, the aircraft are normally painted white overall, although this is not compulsory under the conventions. The operator titles ICRC are displayed on the forward fuselage, often with the circular COMITE INTERNATIONAL GENEVE marking. Alternatively, the latter is displayed on the tail fin.


International Committee of the Red Cross

Operator Profile


Narrative Summary

NOTE: This feature applies to the International operations of the Red Cross, whilst local and national Red Cross Societies are detailed separately under the relevant country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, with a mandate to protect victims of international and internal armed conflicts. It was first established in 1863 as an investigatory commission of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare. Shortly after its creation it adopted the name “International Committee for Relief to the Wounded”. An international conference held in 1864 established the first Geneva Convention on the protection of wounded soldiers and the neutrality of field medical personnel. In 1876 the central organisation was renamed the “International Committee of the Red Cross”.

Due to its outstanding humanitarian work in World War I the ICRC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1917, and again in 1944 for its work in World War Two. When the Biafran conflict in Nigeria broke out in 1967 the ICRC initially declined to intervene for legal reasons. However, rapidly growing public pressure saw the launch of the first major civilian humanitarian airlift in history. The ICRC hired a fleet of aircraft and managed to deliver 21,000 tons of food to Biafra before the conflict ended in 1970. As one of the lessons learned from the Biafra Conflict, the Logistics Division of the ICRC established an Air Operations Unit which is tasked with th air transportation of humanitarian aid to herever it is required.

Key Dates

9 February 1863 ‘Committee of Five’ established by Henry Dunant.
22 August 1864 First Geneva Convention adopted
1876 The committee adopts the name “International Committee of the Red Cross” (ICRC)
1917 The ICRC receives the Nobel Peace Prize for its outstanding humanitarian work in WW1
1944 The ICRC receives it’s second Nobel Peace Prize for its humanitarian work in WW2
1969 ICRC begins airlift of humanitarian aid Biafra
1970? ICRC Air Operations Unit established

Current Status

The Air Operations Unit of the ICRC is currently active in more than nine locations around the world. The ICRC does not own or operate any aircraft, only wet leasing aircraft from commercial operators.

Future Plans

No plans known.


National Insignia

Special Markings

Aircraft Serial Numbers

All ICRC aircraft carry only civil registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft listed are those on long-term leases in ICRC markings. Short-term leases without special markings are not included.
All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

To be added.


Main Headquarters

ICRC, Logistics Division, Air Operations Unit, Geneva, Switzerland.

Organisational Structure

The Air Operations Unit works by establishing Operational Bases in the host country or a neighbouring country and then ferrying in bulk cargo as required. Smaller aircraft and helicopters are used to distribute supplies to those in need.

Current Unit Assignments

To be added.

Historical Unit Assignments

To be added.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

To be added.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

To be added.

More Information


None known


To be added


wikipedia: International Committee of the Red Cross

wikipedia: Biafran Airlift


Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

Current Aircraft Inventory
International Committee of the Red Cross

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash-8 ? ? ? Transport
Aerospatiale AS350B Ecureuil ? ? ? Transport
Antonov An-12TK ‘Cub’ ? ? ? Transport
Beech 1900D ? ? ? Transport
LET L-410 ? ? ? Transport
Pilatus PC-12 ? ? ? Transport

All-Time Aircraft Used List
International Committee of the Red Cross

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aerospatiale SA330 Puma ? ? ? leased
Aerospatiale AS350B Ecureuil ? ? ? Heli Aviation
Antonov An-12TK ‘Cub’ ? ? ? Silk Way Airlines
Aviation Traders Carvair ? ? ? leased
Beech 200 Super King Air ? ? ? leased
Beech 1900C ? ? ? Rossair
Beech 1900D ? ? ? leased
Boeing KC-97G Stratocruiser 1 1967 1970 Balair
Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander ? ? ? leased
Cessna 404 ? ? ? leased
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter ? ? ? Zimex Aviation
De Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo ? ? ? leased
De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash-8 ? ? ? CMC Aviation
Douglas DC-3 Dakota ? ? ? leased
Douglas DC-6 ? ? ? Balair
Douglas DC-7 ? ? ? Balair
Eurocopter EC155B 1 2013 2013 Heli Aviation
GAF N24A Nomad ? ? ? leased
Kamov Ka-32 ? ? ? leased
LET L-410 ? ? ? leased
Lockheed C-130 Hercules ? ? ? leased
MBB Bo 105 ? ? ? Heli Aviation
Mil Mi-8 ‘Hip’ ? ? ? leased
Mil Mi-26 ‘Halo’ ? ? ? leased
Pilatus PC-12 ? ? ? leased