Clear skies and Australia’s rugged outback have greeted the arrival of Qantas’s fourth Boeing 787-9, which features a special indigenous livery inspired by the work of artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
The aircraft, VH-ZND, departed Boeing’s final assembly line at Everett a little after 2100 (local time) on Wednesday. Some 15 and a half hours and almost 7,000nm later, it touched down at Alice Springs Airport a little after 0600 on Friday, where it received an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross.
On hand to greet the arrival of Qantas’s fourth 787-9 were members of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s family, as well as Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and the local community.
“It is a privilege to welcome home this special aircraft together with Emily’s family, close to her home Country. We’re thrilled to showcase her striking artwork on our newest Dreamliner,” Joyce said in a statement.
“As the aircraft enters our international fleet, we believe this Dreamliner, through colour and image, will tell a story of our unique Australian landscape and, by sharing our Indigenous culture with the world, the important story of reconciliation.”
The aircraft, which is named Emily Kame Kngwarreye, is expected to operate a number of domestic flights on the Qantas network before being deployed on Melbourne-Los Angeles and Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow flights.
Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman Emily Kame Kngwarreye was born some 230km north east of Alice Springs at Ahalkere in the Utopia Homelands.
Her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming has been adapted for the aircraft by leading Indigenous-owned design studio Balarinji. The design depicts the culturally significant yam plant, an important symbol in Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Dreaming stories and a staple food source in her home region of Utopia.
The airline said the livery features more than 5,000 dots and involved more than 60 graphic designers, engineers and painters, with the work taking 10 days to complete at Boeing’s Everett facility just outside Seattle in Washington State.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s 1991 work “Yam Dreaming” is on display at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney, where it is part of the permanent collection.
The PWERLE Aboriginal Art Gallery posted a video of the aircraft on Instagram.