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
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.