Qantas’s Indigenous-painted 787 takes flight

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND at Boeing's Everett facility. (Katie Bailey)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND at Boeing’s Everett facility. (Katie Bailey)

Qantas’s fourth Boeing 787-9 has emerged from the paintshop and completed its first test flights as the clock counts down to the arrival of the aircraft with an Indigenous-inspired livery at a special welcome ceremony at Alice Springs in early March.

The aircraft, VH-ZND, broke cover at Boeing’s Everett facility on Thursday morning (US time) before completing a 90-minute flight to Moses Lake, according to flight tracking website Flightaware.

After about 15 minutes on the ground, the 787-9 departed Moses Lake for a 40-minute return journey to Everett.

The new livery is based on a work by the late Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming has been adapted for the aircraft by Indigenous-owned design studio Balarinji.

The aircraft, which will be named Emily Kame Kngwarreye, will be ferried from Everett nonstop to Alice Springs for a special welcome event on March 2.

Twitter user @mattcawby also posted a photo of the aircraft on Twitter

As did @airportwebcams

The PWERLE Aboriginal Art Gallery posted a video of the aircraft on Instagram.

What a history making moment | A @qantas / @boeing aircraft in honour of our Great Aunty Emily Kame Kngwarreye ✨ Repost via. @balarinji Balarinji welcomes their fifth aircraft design in the Qantas-Balarinji flying art series, Emily Kame Kngwarreye 787 Dreamliner. Balarinji created the fuselage design based on the internationally renowned artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s 1991 painting ‘Yam Dreaming’. A Qantas-Balarinji art aircraft typically takes two years from concept to launch. Over that time, Balarinji works with Qantas Engineering, Boeing and Boeing’s design agency, Teague, to take a 2-D vision into 3-D renders and eventually onto the airport fuselage in the Boeing paint facility in Seattle, USA. Balarinji deconstructs an original painting and reforms it as a design that works around a fuselage, in a way that responds to the viewer from all angles – from the ground, from an air bridge, in the sky. Scale, colour, distribution of motifs and compatibility with Qantas branding and safety requirements are carefully considered. Congratulations to everyone involved, what an achievement and proud moment! Our family are all incredibly speechless and in love with this project 🙏🏽 #PwerleGallery #Pwerle #EmilyKameKngwarreye #EmilyKngwarreye #Aboriginal #AboriginalArt #Qantas #Plane #Indigenous #Utopia #Family #Australia #FlyingArtSeries

A post shared by PWERLE ABORIGINAL ART GALLERY (@pwerlegallery) on


  1. John Reid says

    Is there a pronunciation guide? I am not being facetious – I think that respect for the artist should be shown also by pronouncing her name correctly (or at least as close as white-fellas get).

  2. john doutch says

    A beautiful design, well constructed and a tribute to a wonderful lady, not only is her family justifiably proud, but so should all Australians, Ain’t it great, mate.

  3. David says

    Residents of Alice are the lucky winners here. They will be able to view ZND before most of the rest of Australia.

  4. John says

    Lovely artwork and name. Congrats to everyone involved. As an aside though, according to the report it takes two years planning to get to the finished product. This would mean using my very basic retired brain maths that Qantas never actually needed 8 new names for the Dreamliners’ first batch as “Dreamtime”was never going to “fly”……a superb substitute nevertheless.

  5. Barry says

    Agree with doing indigenous planes – look at the Qantas 747’s. but this looks like crazy paving gone wrong.

  6. Craigy says

    A great design and it will make heads turn in Australia, USA and UK.

    @ John Perhaps the plan was to call the aircraft Dreamtime but then a decision was taken to name the aircraft after the artist. A fitting accolade. Similar to naming the A380s after famous Australians.

  7. Tim says

    QANTAS, kicking huge Australian goals with this design. Your new A330 airbus is already a smart design inside and this Dreamliner looks a world beater on the outside. Well done.

  8. KFB says

    Qantas nailed this. I am really excited to see it flying in our skies. Brisbane-Perth-London could be an option for the Brisbane based 787’s. @Craigy, I agree. This livery captures my attention the most out of any airline livery.

  9. Mike says

    @Jonathan….by “ugly” I’m assuming you mean;
    Unique, Graceful, Lively, Yam-dreaming!
    I like it too!!
    In any way we can acknowledge the aboriginal heritage of Australia the better.
    Qantas has been doing this with successive unique aircraft designs for over a decade now.
    I’m looking forward to seeing Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s inspired artwork on the brand new B787-9 when it arrives DownUnder!

  10. Nicholas says

    I think from a graphic design perspective it doesn’t really work. The design is too busy, and based on the picture doesn’t stand out at a distance.
    The other QF Indigenous designs have been so strong and striking that they’ve worked much better, irrespective of how far you were from the plane, which was one of their attractions.

  11. Barry Holmes (ex F.E.O.) says

    Does not match the “Magnificent”color scheme painted on Boeing 747-338 —VH-EBU which was “Nalanji Dreaming”.– Best colors ever on a QANTAS aircraft !!– It regularly was scheduled on the Japanese services to Tokyo and Nagoya and was an absolute “hit” with passengers. I,m sure many other QF Staff would agree with my comments.