On the left is ZA003 in the old livery and to the left is ZA003 in the new. But why? Both photos from Boeing.

On the right is ZA003 in the old livery and to the left is ZA003 in the new. But why? Both photos from Boeing.

This is the same Boeing 787 Dreamliner (ZA003 / ï»¿ï»¿N787BX), but in two different paint schemes. Previously, there was only one aircraft with the “Dreamliner livery’ — ZA001. All the rest were painted either in a “light”  or ANA livery. Then a few days ago, Boeing unveiled ZA003 in and updated “Dreamliner livery,” but why? I am not exactly sure and Boeing is not currently saying.

ZA003 taking off at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

ZA003, in its new livery, landing at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

It is possible that Boeing will use ZA003 to promote the 787 around the world. I thought maybe they were using ZA003 at the Seoul Air Show, but ZA001 arrived instead. According to Boeing’s Flickr page: “ZA003, the third 787 Dreamliner built by Boeing, just got a new paint job. We’ve got big plans for this airplane. It’s too early to provide details, but stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks.” That does not really give any clues.

ZA003 at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

ZA003 at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

So what do you think? Why did Boeing spend the money to paint over a perfectly good paint scheme? I am sure they must have a plan.

Thanks to Jeremy for sharing his photos.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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Mark C. (OKC)

In your first photo caption, two lefts don’t make it right? As for the why on the paint job…… I’ll leave that to better minds then I.

I added one more left and it magically turned into a right.

Mark C. (OKC)

ummm….. is the right photo the new livery? If so, then the photos below that are of the old livery….. It’s Monday morning and my brain is still trying to catch up. Need more caffine.

Wow. I just added two more lefts and I think it is finally correct. I am the one that needs the coffee 🙂


Mark C. (OKC)

TADA!….lol. As for the coffee, you’re in the right city for that.

Maybe Randy (Tinseth) just painted his house and had a few hundred gallons left over….

Just a guess… It looks to me, now that testing and certification are done, the “Dreamliner livery” of ZA001 is now the “air show and sales livery”. ZA001 was the only one with a livery presentable for going on display representing the 787 fleet. ZA003 may need to take that role solo for a while if there will be any downtime for ZA001 to remove the flight-test ballast tanks and make a more show-worthy interior.

I got to see the inside of ZA001 at Oshkosh, when they first opened it to the public. The Boeing employees were proudly showing their plane. But they were also endlessly explaining why the plane had a test flight interior rather than the airline seating that much of the public seemed to expect. That explanation worked while the aircraft type was not yet certified at the time. But it is certified now.

I am betting you are probably right. I am kind of hoping for something a bit more exciting, but realistically this makes sense.


I would figure pilots and friends at Oshkosh would be much more excited by the Flight Test interior than the rows upon rows of seats in a regular configuration. The Flight Test interior is pretty darn cool.

Yeah, that was definitely the case at Oshkosh. I think a lot of people were even more excited to see “Experimental” above ZA001’s doors, just like on homebuilt planes. And test pilot Mike Carriker got huge applause when he said the entire flight crew are all EAA members. But there were a lot of the general public there that day – EAA had been advertising across the region and it seemed like half of Chicago came to see it.


Two random Ideas/Conspiracy theories
1) They had to do some modification to the aircraft that would be noticeable to the paint job (and all the people that watch everything Boeing does)
2) They need to figure out what it would take to repaint the composite system (so that the can repaint some existing aircraft think Air India)

Oh, I like both of those. Although, if they were true, I would suspect that Boeing would not tell us the truth about it and come up with some great cover story!



If memory serves me correctly then ZA003 is the one with the partial passenger cabin in it. If so, and Boeing wants to user it in marketing campaigns, then it seems logical to standardize it to the livery.

I suspect the only reason they went with a light livery was for speed of repainting any modifications necessary during flight test. Now that’s not necessary.

Like BACFlyer said, it’s likely for forthcoming sales/demo campaigns, say in Australia in November for Qantas. The passenger cabin in 003 is important for such occasiona.

TerminalWander’s 2nd point makes sense,too. It was their 1st attempt to repaint a 787. By doing so, they gained experience.

Its purely a marketing decision. The first paint job is your typical generic paint scheme. Gets the airplane out of the assembly process and into the air. Takes a lot less time for a generic paint scheme. To attract more buyers, not that they’ve sold quite a few, they can take a little more time with a paint scheme that reflects more of the world’s airlines that use aircraft similar to the 78. Of course except for American which doesn’t paint their aircraft. Saves fuel…less weight.

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