Qantas Dreamliner Damaged as Destructive Tornado Sweeps Through Brisbane Airport

A Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner worth nearly US $300 million was badly damaged at Brisbane International Airport earlier this week after a tornado swept through the area and lifted the 115-tonne plane off the ground after workers scrambled to a safe area to watch out the destructive storm.

The tornado hit Brisbane on Friday morning and although short-lived, the airport sustained significant damage with the roofs of some smaller buildings ripped off and damage sustained to aircraft hangars.

With little warning that the tornado was about to hit, aircraft already parked up at passenger gates had to be abandoned by airport workers while the tornado passed through. One of those planes was a three-year-old Qantas Boeing Dreamliner in a special ‘Yam Dreaming’ livery.

The aircraft is called Emily Kame Kngwarreye after the artist whose work the design is based on. The artwork was adapted from a 1991 painting by Kngwarreye called Yam Dreaming – a staple food source in the artist’s home region of Utopia, located around 230km northeast of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory.

It took a team of 60 graphic designers, engineers and painters at Boeing’s paint shop in Seattle to install the livery which features nearly 5,000 individual dots.

The aircraft with registration VH-ZND had landed at Brisbane airport on October 20 after a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles and was preparing for its next trip when the storm struck. The plane hasn’t been moved since and could require extensive repairs to get it airworthy again.

In a short video taken by a passenger in the terminal, the plane is seen being lifted off its front gear and being shifted into the side of ground equipment attached to the aircraft.

There were no passengers onboard the aircraft at the time and no injuries were reported.

Passengers on other aircraft, however, were stuck onboard planes for hours according to 9 News as safety inspectors worked to make the airport safe.