AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines 787-8 VP-BBR Phoenix 11070 March 2015
VP-BBR “Fizuli” is the second of two 787-8 Dreamliners supplied to the state owned national airline of Azerbaijan, based at Hyudar Aliyev Airport (named after The President’s father, the former President) in Baku on the Caspian Sea. Legend has it that The Presidents wife (who seems to take credit for anything of any vague cultural significance) designed the livery but as her taste is about the same as Paris Hilton but worse, I doubt it somehow. The country, a modern day oil rich version of Game of Thrones, is spending heavily on modernising its airline and prestige aircraft like this are seen as keeping the image of the country modern and advanced when in political terms it’s a family run mafia state.
That being said, the livery is amazing, aiming to show the blue-white mountains of the Caucasus, the snow, streams and waters of the Caspian Sea.
The aircraft was delivered on 22nd-24th December 2014 and is registered on a VP-B code for Bermuda. Azerbaijan’s own code is 4K. The registration was previously used for a Boeing 757 that has been re-regsieterd to give this aircraft the code.
The aerials, three up top and one waste water heater aerial beneath, are all fine. The waste heater should have been red but it’s white. Unlike the 748F the way the triple blue-white-blue-white of the wavy centre line had been managed is massively better – in fact it’s excellent. This begs the inevitable question, why was it so poor on the Silkway 748F which was much simpler to do!? The downside is the front end where the white has been painted over the dark blue and lacking thickness, the blue shows through, but this is only really visible on close inspection. The fine details are excellent, even very small details like door tags and information are really remarkably clear for such small items. The print for the airline name is very well done, even down to the national flag. All in all with the printed comms and overall detail, excellent.
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. There is little beneath the aircraft except a sea of white which is fair enough and the stand hole is well sited and fits the usual thin arm Gemini stand with ease.
The colour is excellent and in general the engines are excellent, the fans are painted in such a way as to make them look surprisingly real. The silver on the intakes passes the eyeball test and is infinitely better than on the 748F. However there is still an issue, though much less noticeable, with the blue paint showing through silver because the silver doesn’t bond with the high gloss blue beneath. The minor detail – including the GE logo on the engines is in general very good.
4) Tail and stabilisers
The fitment of the stabilisers is great, the tail exemplary, the rear of the aircraft is fault free.
5) Nose detail
The printed detail, including the flight deck is excellent. The downside here as with so many Phoenix models is that they seem to cock-up the paint right on the nose. Clearly the dark blue gloss was applied first. It’s so glossy it makes it hard for colours printed on to it to bond, being dark it also makes it prone to show through white paint. Why this happens on the over nose of the aircraft I don’t know, maybe the way the print is applied to such a suddenly sharp change in angles and distance causes problems. Don’t read me wrong, this is a matter of close examination, not something glaringly obvious and really for most people it would be no issue, but I’m not most people and the purpose of this blog is to highlight issues good and bad regardless.
6) Out of 10
All in all this model is excellent. Well deserving of the 9/10 I’m giving it. This highlights some big issues though. How in Gods’s name do they screw up the 748F so badly? Same country, same airline (Silkway is part of the Azerbaijan Airlines holding company), almost the same paint scheme (the colours were deliberately inverted) – Phoenix have a lot to explain if only they were inclined to do so.
So gaspingly bad is the Silkway 748F in comparison to this which is awesomely good, Phoenix need to apply their quality consistently or face a retreat in sales. G-VBUG was good but she wasn’t brilliant. This batch of models could only be described as average. Phoenix need to be worried because if they don’t get this together Gemini who I will shortly demonstrate are improving in leaps and bounds, will take back the crown they so stupidly let slip away.
Regardless this is a model you need to have in your collection, its a superb livery and really stands out as with so many liveries they just look amazing on the 787-8, possibly the most “liverygenic” airliner ever designed.