I’ve stopped buying Phoenix A330’s lately because I am sick to death of the wings not fitting properly. This is mostly an issue with the port side wing and the causes are ridiculously simple to fix at the factory. It’s not so easy for us mere mortals as there are some preconditions to think about before embarking on such a drastic step.
The donor for this experiment was the horrendously bad Asiana A333 from earlier this year. The model was replaced and I was told I could keep this faulty one.
Firstly the main issue for you as an owner, is do you try and pull the wing out if it’s glued in?
The 8 A330’s I’ve had this year (and it has to be said 1 A346 suffered the same issue and couldn’t be fixed), all had the same problem. (That’s apart from the bent starboard wing, easily fixed by pressing gently mid-wing for a short period).
Four of them were bullied into submission, 4 of them couldn’t be modified.
The first thing to look at is the wing root ON BOTH WINGS. Is the paint so integrated with the wing and the fuselage that removing the wing will crack or damage it irreparably? If it is like that then you should probably stop right now. Repairing the visible paint once cracked is not worth the effort.
However, in most of these cases, the port side wing was actually not even glued in and came out with ease. The others required minimal force. The starboard wing however was fixed in a little better, but not in a way that would damage the fuselage or wing paint if removed. A little bit of lateral force, slowly and gently applied, pushing backwards and forwards – apply the force at the root not the wing tip, making sure not to break the engine off, eventually loosened it up enough to pull it out.
The first thing that I looked at was check exactly how they fit together, which is a simple interlock, the insert from the port wing goes behind the insert from the starboard side. Once it’s in it’s highly effective. Try removing the starboard wing without taking the port side one out first – almost impossible on this model.
It doesn’t take long to find out what the problem is and it’s all down to quality control which will surprise nobody.
The starboard side wing root isn’t square enough -the edges have become imprecise and the tolerances are remarkably fine to make it work. The port side suffers from the same issue, but there is also a tiny piece of flashing on the right side of the square which makes contact with the opposite wing, forcing it away by around a millimetre. Its a remarkably small amount but with the interlock edges now being so imprecise, – again by tiny amounts, the effect, coupled to the dodgy interior imperfections in the fuselage mould, are exponential and the result is a bad fit.
The answer is to file down the interlocks and fuselage hole by a small amount and put them back without glue, into the model. If they all fit, take them out again, glue only the bare metal interlocks , put the starboard side back first, then the port, and they should all go back together perfectly.
There is one important caveat here – WHY DIDN’T YOU SEND IT BACK IF IT WAS FAULTY? I admit if I could get a replacement – and I did in three out of the eight, all three ones I couldn’t fix, which were exchanged. Some were granted sizeable credits by the retailer. Kudos to any retailer who deals with their customers well like this. I know some, especially in the US are far less amenable and some of the major European retailers are far from generous unless faced with clear evidence there is irreparable damage. We can’t let them, or Phoenix get away with this forever.