British Airways 787-8 G-ZBJC Gemini Jets GJBAW1505 September 2015

Vanity made me by this specific model, I wanted my initials, JC, in the registration. Shallow eh? I also wanted a latest version and the real registration, as the only BA 787-8 I’ve had until now has been the one Gemini produced years ago as a series of fantasy models when they were first announced – a BA 788 registered as G-BDRM.

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G-ZBJC is the third delivered to BA (of eight ordered and in current service), now two years ago on September 1st 2013. She along with A, B & D had to undergo a weeks worth of remedial work in Victorville a year ago to fix issues with seals and flight deck windows. 787-9’s start delivery September 2015 and 787-10’s in a couple of years.

Technically she’s been a bit of a challenge, with engine failures delaying flights and acts of God – three major lightening strikes causing delays amongst them. She operated both the Austin and Calgary 788 inaugurals. BA 787-8’s don’t have First Class, being configured in 35 Business, 25 Premium Economy and 154 Economy. 787-9’s will carry 8 First Class seats when they are introduced.

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BA have taken a lot of criticism for the economy class seats on the 788, which have proved very unpopular. They opted as did many competitors, for the 3-3-3 layout rather than the recommended 2-4-2. This annoys couples travelling together who often have a third person they don’t know to sit next to on a long haul flight, as well as being somewhat more cramped than is ideal. BA have now heard the complaints and are reducing the width of the aisles – yes the aisles – to make the arms of the seats wider. The 3-3-3 stays. This has meant introducing new slim-line catering trolleys!

So to the model – how does the BA 787-8 do with the latest methods in Gemini’s re-discovered world of quality?

1)Fuselage

Despite being commissioned after the Virgin 787-9 G-VAHH, there is no attempt to add the second aerial at the rear end. The two on top and the one below are well fitted however.  The standard fit small comms dome is just printed on, there’s no mould. Being BA they added the TFTS Crest from late 2012, to all their aircraft as they go through resprays. To Fly, To Serve. Whatever you say BA, if it makes you feel good. The only thing is on the model the crest, while present, is a very weakly printed affair and looks almost invisible most of the time. It just isn’t as strong as it should be.

The general print, while passing the eyeball test, is actually not quite as crisp or clean, with frequent very light blurring – the big BA logo on the fuselage is actually a little rough if you really look, though the red-blue ribbon is quite well done.

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The door details, windows and so on are all more than adequate, just not really as good as I’d have expected – certainly not to the standards applied to the Etihad freighter for example. While the dark blue underbody is well painted the white does show a few blue blur marks, though it has to be said they are very small.

My main gripe – and this applies to all of the blue and some of the white on the model, is the dust in the paint. There’s just too much of it all round. Some of it is more like rubble than dust. There are also small scratch marks on the white paint in places too.

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Yes I am being picky. This outlines the intensely irritating lack of precision and consistency so typical of Chinese production. If you can turn out something amazing like the Etihad Cargo, what the hell can’t you do this to the same standards? I’m not saying this is bad, far from it, but it isn’t as good, so why not? Why is everything not exactly the same in terms of production standards? This is just a mould with a paint job, how hard can it be? Yu’ve been doing it what? Twenty years? It’s what you ask us to pay a premium price for.

2) Wings and landing gear

The wings are very good, a problem free area in themselves and well made and finished. The issue – partly hidden by the very dark blue underbody paint is once again the way the back of the cradle just doesn’t match the fuselage mould, and on this model there is a good half millimetre gap you can see through from one side to the other.

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The landing gear has no major issues apart form some slightly lumpy tyres and a large flat spot on the nose gear rubber. The nose gear doors are well painted and printed.

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3) Engines

The pylons have a bit of a rough mould but nothing to be bothered by. Some of the silver paint has drifted on the pylons to places it probably shouldn’t be, but again thats being fairly picky. The engines are actually very good, with neat silver, good fans, no leaking paint and RR logos right where they should be. They’re also fitted properly. The downside is dust in the paint again.

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4) Nose detail

I have no problem with it, the cockpit windows look fine, and the dome detail is excellent. Even the wiper arms look neat. The only botch is the OneWorld roundel by the door.

Only the rather botched one world roundel by the door is a very minor issue.
Only the rather botched one world roundel by the door is a very minor issue.

5) Tail detail.

In general a problem free area and well executed or the most part. However there is a small red paint run on the lowest red ripple towards the leading edge. The issue is the dust at the base of the vertical stabiliser, or whatever detritus has ended up under the paint, possibly glue or mould flashing. Fortunately it’s small and while just visible, it’s not the end of the world. Again, why is this model so much harder to produce than the immensely complicated Etihad livery, which was perfect?

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6) Colour

No issues. BA’s scheme is very easy to reproduce, utilising flat colours.

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7) Score and conclusions

The TFTS coat of arms -2 for being too weak. – 2 for blurry marks and less than ideal definition of the BA logo, -5 across the board for dust in paint, -5 for the cradle rear end. 86%.

Front to back: 788 G-ZBJC, 773 G-STBA, 763 G-BNWD. A320 G-EUYV at RLSI Terminal 1West.
Front to back: 788 G-ZBJC, 773 G-STBA, 763 G-BNWD. A320 G-EUYV at RLSI Terminal 1West.

That’s a very good score, and in fairness it’s a very good model. Yet the lack of consistency in production standards is the real concern, and the next review will demonstrate this even further. How we can go from near perfection on the Etihad cargo 744F, which is one of the best models anyone has made this year, then almost get there on this but loose the plot on simple silly things, well I don’t understand that. It’s quality control that’s lacking as always. Consistency applied to the same standards to every model all of the time. Etihad Cargo standards are what I want for my money and nothing less will do as a target.

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Again, it’s a very good model, way better than some, and a lot better than we’ve been used to on some Gemini 788’s – you have to remember that out of 6 purchased in the last 18 months 4 of them were sent back for defects that were just a joke. Phoenix still make a better 788/9 than Gemini do. This is an improvement, far to good to be considered a fail, but not to the standards they can really achieve. Great effort, but can do better.

I’m off to Amsterdam for research on my fourth book, (but will also be doing an airport tour at Schipol), – check back Thursday for the review on the Delta 757-300w N583NW released this month by Gemini. In a weeks time it’s time for the Phoenix Finnair A350.

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