Paint Is Flaking On Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787 Wings

Air New Zealand has become the latest airline to reveal issues with paint peeling off of composite surfaces. It seems that the airline’s Boeing 787s are affected, with plans reportedly in place to repaint them starting from May. Boeing is aware of the issue caused by UV rays from the sun and is working on a fix for it.

Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue
Air New Zealand is reporting paint peeling on its Boeing 787 wings. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Among other things, 2021 became the year that we learned about paint on composite surfaces in flight. Qatar Airways is even looking to take Airbus to court over such an issue. Boeing is also reportedly dealing with paint peeling on some composite areas, though this is understood by Simple Flying to be an entirely separate issue from that seen on the Airbus A350.

Paint peeling off Boeing 787s

Paint is beginning to flake on the wings of some Air New Zealand Boeing 787 aircraft. The issue appears to have been first reported by the New Zealand publication Business Desk. According to Stuff, an Air New Zealand spokesperson commented,

“Boeing is working to provide both an immediate as well as longer term solution.”

Simple Flying understands that peeling paint is a known issue in the fleet that is prompted by UV light from the sun affecting a coating in the Dreamliner’s paint. Boeing is working on a new UV blocking coating that will solve the issue on a long-term basis. In the meantime, a short-term ‘touch-up’ fix to the issue has been made available.

Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue
Boeing is aware of the issue and is working on a long-term fix. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Commenting on the issue, a Boeing spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“We are aware of this issue and have been working closely with our customers to address it. It is a cosmetic issue only, as the peeling does not affect the structural integrity of the wing, and does not affect the safety of flight.”

Business Desk further reports that the affected planes will fly out to Boeing in the United States to be repainted. This will take place from May onwards, however, there is no need to ground the jets in the meantime as the issue is purely cosmetic, and doesn’t impact the aircraft’s airworthiness.

The Air New Zealand Boeing 787 fleet

According to data from, Air New Zealand currently has 14 Boeing 787-9s in its fleet, all of which are listed as active. The airline has a further two 787-9s and six 787-10s on order.

Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue
Air New Zealand’s oldest Boeing 787-9 was the first of the type to fly. Photo: Getty Images

The oldest Boeing 787-9 (ZK-NZC) that the airline operates served as a Boeing testbed before it was delivered to the New Zealand flag carrier. The aircraft was the first 787-9 to fly as part of the type’s certification campaign and took to the skies for the first time on September 17th, 2013. It went on to be delivered to Air New Zealand in August 2015 and has since clocked 25,274 flight hours across 4,275 flights as of August 31st.

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ZK-NZD was also previously a Boeing 787-9 testbed, meaning that the Dreamliner in the Air New Zealand fleet the longest is ZK-NZE, delivered to the carrier on July 10th, 2014.

2021 – The year of composite paint peeling

The Air New Zealand paint issues are just the latest in a series of composite surface paint issues reported by various airlines on various types. The Airbus A350 has also been suffering flaking paint on some composite areas, though this is a completely separate issue from the one being experienced by Air New Zealand.

In November, it was revealed that several airlines had been experiencing issues with the Airbus A350’s paint, though most have written it off as a cosmetic issue, and not an airworthiness issue, which regulator EASA agrees with.

Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue
Air New Zealand’s 787s will fly out to the US to be repainted by Boeing next year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

One airline, in particular, doesn’t agree that the A350’s paint problem is purely a cosmetic issue. Qatar Airways has now grounded 21 of its A350 aircraft over the issue on the instruction of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority. Airbus claims that its attempts to rectify the situation have been unreasonably rejected, while Qatar Airways claims the manufacturer isn’t taking the issue seriously. The spat between the two is now set to head to the UK courts.

What do you make of this latest development? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!