Air New Zealand’s one and only black Dreamliner is now back in service. The airline’s very first Dreamliner, the distinctively black jet joined the fleet in the summer of 2014. In fact, it was the very first 787-9 in the world to operate commercial service. Unfortunately, the aircraft has been grounded for a year, mainly due to a collision with a catering truck.
The special livery of this aircraft has a meaning behind it. According to former Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon, the black livery seen on select Air New Zealand planes signifies that the aircraft was the first in a delivery.
Out of service since April 2019
According to an airline spokesperson via New Zealand publication Stuff, the aircraft, registered as ZK-NZE collided with a catering truck last April, taking it out of service. It’s absence from operations meant that the airline could remove its functioning engines and install them on another one of its 787-9s. The carrier has been suffering from issues relating to its Dreamliners’ Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. As a result, many of its 787s have been grounded.
“We have now received replacement engines from Rolls-Royce and the aircraft is expected to return to service later this month.” -Air New Zealand spokesperson
Back in action
After almost a year, ZK-NZE is operational once again. In fact, the aircraft took off from Auckland on a flight to Sydney 13:00 local time yesterday – March 13th. The day prior, it was up in the air without any passengers, conducting a test flight that lasted just over an hour.
Below are two tweets from Air New Zealand pilot Phillip Kirk, commenting on the aircraft’s return:
Smiling aircraft engineers. The ownership these professionals show is outstanding. They were even more pleased than us to see this iconic 787-9 back in the air. They’ve seen it through some tough times. Love your work team! pic.twitter.com/5ju8gi5FxQ
— Philip Kirk (@philipkirk6) March 12, 2020
Will it continue to fly?
The biggest question for Air New Zealand is whether or not it is needed at this time. Global events and the drastic decrease in air travel have lead to the suspension of flights around the world. As a result, many high-capacity aircraft have been grounded – most noticeably all of Lufthansa’s A380s and a number of A380s from Qantas as well.
Air New Zealand has a fleet of 14 787-9s, which of course first came to the carrier in 2014. In two years the airline’s Dreamliner fleet will grow to include the longer 787-10 variant. In September 2019, Air New Zealand has finalized an order for eight -10s, which will join the fleet from 2022. The 787-10 can seat up to 330 passengers in a standard two-class configuration. This is roughly 40 more passengers than the 787-9.
It’s great to see the airline’s unique, signature all-black Dreamliner back in action and functioning as intended. While the timing isn’t the best for the aircraft’s return, it will provide more capacity and flexibility for Air New Zealand once operations return to normal.
Have you ever flown on this unique aircraft? Share your experiences and memories with us by leaving a comment!