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Decoration of an Air New Zealand airplane in Germany

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The partnership between 3M and Air New Zealand is being continued with the recent decoration of a Boeing 747-400 to mark the premiere of “The Return of the King”, the third and last sequel of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The graphics covering a total area of 800 sqm consists of 360 individual pieces that adorn the fuselage of the boeing. Due to the gigantic size of the graphics, printing and applying them to the plane had to be planned with military precision. This was particularly so because the entire graphic had to be applied within a 54-hour stopover for a routine check.

A team of 28 people was responsible for putting the idea into practice. As a first step, they subdivided the graphics into easy-to-handle individual pieces. These were then printed on 3M films. The final step was to apply all of these pieces in a three-shift operation to make up the completed graphic. A total of 585 man-hours were needed to finish the job.

The quality required of the graphics is enormous. They must withstand speeds of up to 1,000 kilometers per hour, pressure differences and temperature changes from –60°C at 10,000 meters flying height to 60°C on the ground. Interestingly, the total weight of the entire graphic is 106 kg, despite the fact that the film itself is less than one mm thick.