Late Monday night, Air New Zealand's first Boeing 787-9 rolled out of the paint hangar in Everett, Washington, sporting a new "all-black" livery. Reflecting off the wet tarmac and factory lights, glistening from the falling Seattle rain, she is truly a sight to behold.
The video makes the work even more impressive, as we get to see how all of the work is done by hand, placing and masking each stenciled leaf and letter. The work took five days to complete, and was done by 12 painters using 350 litres of paint.
Commercial planes are rarely painted black, and there are a few reasons for that. First, black paint weighs more than white paint. It sounds weird, but the pigmentation solids in the black paint add just a little bit of weight to it, and multiplied by hundreds of gallons it becomes a factor as airlines look for any way to reduce the weight of the plane. Second, black paint absorbs more heat and radiation. According to the E.P.A. the closer we get to the sun, the more cosmic radiation we are receiving. And finally, black paint is a visibility issue. It's obviously more difficult to see at night — a concern as planes move about congested airport tarmacs.
At the unveiling, Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan said,
"It's great to see the Koru and the beautiful New Zealand fern emblazoned on this aircraft. This will soon be the first 787-9 aircraft anywhere in the world to operate commercially and I think it will instil a sense of pride in Kiwis and turn heads when it touches down at airports throughout Asia and the Pacific."
This black 787-9 is a special livery, the only one we'll see in this scheme. The others will be painted in the airline's regular livery, which is still pretty great-looking in my opinion.
Air New Zealand's regular 787 paint scheme
Air New Zealand is the 787-9 Dreamliner launch customer, meaning they will be the first airline to offer 787-9 service anywhere in the world. It's a stretched version of the 787-8, 132 of which were in service as of March 31st. The airline has 10 of the planes on order, and will use them to fly from Perth and Auckland to Shanghai and Tokyo later this fall.
All images provided by Boeing