Etihad 787-9 A6-BLA Gemini Jets GJETD1424 December 2014 Release

Etihad 787-9 A6-BLA Gemini Jets GJETD1424 December 2014 Release

A6-BLA arrives at RLSI for the first time
A6-BLA arrives at RLSI for the first time

The aircraft is a model of  787-9 A6-BLA of Etihad Airways which has just gone into service in the past few weeks. It and the A380 in the new livery  mark a new chapter in the airlines expansion and global position as it fights for supremacy with Emirates and Qatar. The airlines policy of acquiring minority stakes in multiple airlines globally gives it huge leverage in the market place, creating its own ad-hoc alliance.

I’ve said before on these pages that the 787 is somehow able to carry any livery and make it look amazing. This is no exception.

Gemini have recently appeared to make an effort in bringing their printing and painting process up to scratch. The United 787-9 which in production sequence was around the same design number as this one was released in August and frankly left a lot to be desired to say the least. The Etihad livery change almost certainly delayed this and the A380 but they retained the same production codes, not being released until December. The difference in manufacturing standards is starkly obvious, even more so because the Virgin Atlantic 787-9 is not as well made or precise as this model and they are neighbours in original Gemini sequencing, but not it seems in actual production which appears to have been carried out way before the Etihad’s.

If this is not the case then Gemini have one of the worst quality control issues imaginable. How one can be so different to the other in quality terms is extraordinary.

In natural daylight, the colours look superb
In natural daylight, the colours look superb

1) Main Fuselage

Two roof aerials and the moulded comms dome are excellent. The paint scheme is first class, really this is one of the bet Gemini models I have ever seen in terms of print and paint quality. In fact it and the Etihad A380 seem to signal and major shift in Gemini standards – lets face it not before time. Lets hope they can carry this through to every single model and not just the elite few they hope to market to the airlines themselves.

The multi faceted colours in the tail/fuselage and underbody are exemplary. The print is precise and neat, detail crisp and clean with no bleed. I can hardly believe how accurate it is for a Gemini!

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2) Engines

These are the massive GEnex-1B engines and the nacelles are well made, assembled and painted. In fact they’re a high point as so often in the past these have been a major Gemini failing. Engine detail is excellent, though not the see-through HBE fans of Witty, they are still very good. The exhaust cone detail is of special note and the anti-noise serrations spot on.  A considerable improvement on the engine paint on the Virgin Atlantic 787-9 which was not ideal by any means. Overall I’m delighted with them. The biggest plus is the silver intake paint is not randomly wobbly and the fine particles work wonders for improving detail. This is the second Gemini model in a row where it has perfect scores for the engines!

3) Landing Gear

Painted metal with detailed struts and hydraulics, fully rolling wheels seem to be the intention but the bogies sadly don’t tilt.  While the tyres are well moulded, and the wheels which almost look metal are excellent, unfortunately the starboard side wheels on the main gear just don’t move or rotate in any way, the port side ones are perfectly fine. Thats the second time this has happened. The gear doors are also better finished and the gear sits neatly where it should without being skewed or bent, which has happened in the past.

Natural delight highlights their accuracy
Natural daylight highlights their accuracy

4) Tail fin and stabilisers

Faultless. Beautiful even. Everything is as it should be, it’s superbly made and finished, the colours and shapes are perfect.

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On approach to RLSI


5) Wings and underbody.

Gemini’s preference for the old fashioned cradle mould is a bit outdated, but the good thing is that it quite well fitted, but sadly the rear of the cradle stands slightly out of the body on the rear port side. It’s just a tired and poor way of doing things. It is better than most of them though, you can’t see through this one to the other side! It has to make you wonder why the one on the Virgin Atlantic 787-9 was so rough and poorly fitted.

There is plenty of wing detail above and below and no excessive paint. The one truly daft thing about the whole model is it was one hell of a struggle to get the thing to go on any Gemini stand. I may have a thing for non-stand flying photos and I try in my own lame way to brush them out, but this required a worrying number of potentially paint flaking twists to get it to go. Gemini stands are not cheap, (I’ve never purchased one not inside another models box, for example the Virgin Atlantic shop ones get them), but you think they might be sure to see if it works.


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6) Colours 

This is one thing Gemini always seem to research well and apply well – here it is exceptional, a really great job all round. Gemini deserve praise for their efforts here.

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7) Overall score – we start at 10.

With just a half point down for the jammed wheels on the main gear and another 0.5 off for the stupid cradle (do these things ever fit properly?), a well deserved  9.0/10.  I chose Gemini for this model because they are Colour Masters and they have proved it here. It’s an outstanding model. If all Gemini’s were built to this standard all of the time, there would be little to complain about.  Yet improvements can and should be made. Get rid of the cradle Gemini, please!