Silkway Azerbaijan Cargo 747-8F VQ-BVC Phoenix 11079 March 2015

Love this view of the 748F, classic
Love this view of the 748F, classic

VQ-BVC may well be an aircraft of Silkway Azerbaijan Cargo (its official name is Silkway West Airlines) but she is registered in Bermuda and leased from GECAS, though with General Electric selling its vast credit and finance arm the name will soon change. Delivered in August 2014 she’s one of 2 currently operating for the airline who also have a 744F. Based in Baku, the countries capital city on the shores of Lake Caspian, it’s an oil rich country dominated by a powerful family who run the country like a personal fiefdom (imagine Game of Thrones, but for real in a modern setting). Ideally situated on the old silk road of ancient trading times between China and Europe it has an ideal strategic spot to operate cargo services around the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia.

Even from  distance that blue paint line looks wrong
Even from distance that blue paint line looks wrong

The aircraft has an attractive livery, of a light blue-grey over mid-blue – representing the snows of the Caucasus mountains against the blue of the Caspian Sea.

 1) Fuselage

The colours appear to be well represented, I cannot see any issues, however the darker blue paint where it joins the upper light grey-blue is pretty atrocious for the most part, getting progressively more ragged as it gets to the nose. This is Phoenix of 2012 not what we’ve come to expect in recent months. It’s retrograde quality and Phoenix need to get a grip, it isn’t good enough.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH! plain and simple
NOT GOOD ENOUGH! plain and simple

Often you can only see these things on close up, but this is visible to the naked eye and worst of all it fails even at a reasonable distance of 2ft. On closer inspection it also seems that the print quality of the SILKWAY logo and the smaller AZERBAIJAN CARGO is far from being wonderful. The thing with this is that while the paint is not good, the printed detail is very good for the most part and very neat except for the mis-printed window frame. The wobbly blue is just very poor.

The aerials, three up top and one waste water heater aerial beneath (correctly painted red), are all fine.

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 2) Wings, Underbody & Landing Gear

The wings are well detailed, no excess paint and very neat.  The landing gear is generally excellent, full metal with rolling gear though none of the bogies tilt fully, the two centre rear bogies do for some reason move slightly by design. There is little beneath the aircraft except a sea of blue which is fair enough and the stand hole is well sited and fits the usual thin arm Gemini stand with ease.

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3) Engines

The colour is excellent and in general the engines are very good, the silver on the intakes passes the eyeball test but it really isn’t as good have Phoenix have previously demonstrated they can manage. Again the same problem as with G-VGAS but not as severe, the silver was applied either too thinly or more likely while the glossy blue was still a little bit tacky. When you add a similar paint it dissolves the dried paint back to a partial liquid and prevents it bonding. This is a quality control issue – rushing to meet order deadlines and time pressure. If its to be done right,it has to take a bit longer.

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4) Tail and stabilisers

The fitment of the stabilisers is great from above and below with no apparent glue leaks, indeed the tail stabilisers and detail are excellent, the paint is even and the SW logo problem free.

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5) Nose detail

The printed detail, including the flight deck is excellent, but the dark blue paint line is awful, truly poor and way to visible to be passable. Phoenix need to get a grip of their quality control issues before they get out of hand.

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6) Out of 10

The poor lettering is a -1 for both sides are the same, the blue line paint and its extent are a -2 and the engine silver paint while not catastrophic isn’t good enough, so -0.5. This gets a 65% and VERY DISAPPOINTING. Definitely one of those models that you don’t want to be looking at too closely. If I had found one more fault with it it would have gone back for a refund. It’s right on the line – if it had been 6/10 or less it would have been on its way back . As it is it’s just about passable, just. From a distance it looks amazingly good, a good addition to the other three 748F’s that inhabit RLSI’s cargo centre, but I’d think twice before buying one of these again where the livery requires such a clear separation of colours to be done with prescision. This is really a Phoenix fail.

My apologies, when this was first published it hadn’t been proof read – I fell asleep on the job after a long flight caught up with me (I’d had to go to New York and back to bring someone over, pretty much turning round on the next flight back, not something I’d recommend doing unless you have no options left).

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