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Livery of the Week: Qantas’ Emily Kame Kngwarreye Dreamliner

This striking livery is an ode to Australia's indigenous roots.

Qantas’ latest livery in its Flying Art Series (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Editor’s Note: AirlineGeeks is excited to launch our ‘Livery of the Week’ series. Every Friday, a team member will share an airline livery, which can be from the past, present, or even a special scheme. Some airline liveries are works of art. The complexity associated with painting around critical flight components and the added weight requires outside-the-box thinking from designers. The average airliner can cost upwards of $200,000 to repaint, creating a separate aircraft repainting industry as a result.

Qantas is certainly no stranger to artfully designed aircraft liveries. Since 1994, the Australian airline has developed a series of liveries that seek to recognize indigenous works. So far, Qantas has painted five aircraft in striking liveries, all of which are designed by leading Indigenous Australian-owned design agency Balarinji, according to the airline.

Aptly named the Flying Art Series, Qantas has painted a variety of both widebody and narrowbody aircraft in these special designs. The latest one is on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which bears the name Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The livery was inspired by the 1991 ‘Yam Dreaming’ piece, painted by Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Registered as VH-ZND, the six-year-old 787-9 can regularly be seen across Qantas’ long-haul network.

A Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner called Yam Dreaming, the only Qantas special livery 787. (Photo: Qantas)

Honoring a Late Artist

Born in 1910, Emily Kame Kngwarreye was a prominent Aboriginal Australian artist known for her pivotal role in contemporary indigenous art. She belonged to the Utopia community in the Northern Territory. Kngwarreye commenced her artistic career later in life and gained recognition for her abstract works, often depicting landscapes, cultural narratives, and indigenous flora.

According to the National Museum of Australia, it is estimated that she created over 3,000 paintings in her eight-year-long artistic career, which started in 1988. Her signature style featured vibrant colors and intricate dot-painting techniques. Notably, her art was showcased at the Venice Biennale in 1992, marking a pivotal moment for indigenous Australian art on the world stage.

Kngwarreye’s legacy endures in the global art community, with her pieces displayed in major art institutions. Now, her artistic style graces the skies thanks to Qantas. Kngwarreye passed away in 1996 at age 86.

Qantas’ latest addition to its Flying Art Series (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

The Livery

While VH-ZND largely maintains Qantas’ standard livery, the fuselage and bottom portion of the tail feature the special design. The livery itself is inspired by the yam plant, which was ‘an important symbol in Emily’s Dreamtime story, and an important food source in her home region of Utopia, 230 kilometres north east of Alice Springs,’ according to Qantas.

Similar to other liveries in the airline’s Flying Art Series, this design was also brought to fruition by Balarinji. On its website, Qantas says that the tail was incorporated into the design for the second time in the series’ nearly 30-year history.

The airline’s trademark red tail was adapted to match the earthy red tones and white dotting technique of the original piece, according to Qantas.

Looking for a new airplane model? Head over to our friends at the Midwest Model Store for a wide selection of airlines and liveries. 

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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