EDIT: This model will feature in a December comparison test with the new Gemini 787-9 G-ZBKA when it’s released.
BA has been operating 8 788’s for a while and this is the first of 16 787-9’s with 8 options. The second, G-ZBKB went into service on 29th October with a sold out flight to Delhi, G-ZBKC was delivered on October 24th.
G-ZBKA was used for training and short-occupancy flights when first delivered, allowing staff to familiarise themselves with the larger aircraft both in the air and on the ground. The extra space has in effect, been used up by adding 8 high-profit First Class seats in the nose, something not available on 788’s, and changing the layout. 7 extra business class and 14 extra premium economy were installed, by reducing the economy seats from 154 to 127. This underlines BA’s business profile and plan – growing high margin travel at the expense of economy. The principle being, that if the LCC’s want economy passengers, let them have them, BA will cherry pick the high end travellers, and those who wouldn’t be seen dead on an LCC. It’s a strategy that is clearly working.
789 layout F8, C42, W39, Y127
788 layout C35, W25, Y154
I confess that I have never purchased a BA by Phoenix before, in fact I only buy BA when it’s a totally new aircraft type and until the A350 enters service there won’t now be another. This returns the BA total to 17 at RLSI, making it the largest individual airline present.
I chose Phoenix because in the past their 787-9 models – last years ANZ was superb – have been exemplary for the most part. It seems that 12 months has made a major difference. This model will not be anywhere near challenging for the title in 2015.
There are sharp differences between the Gemini and Phoenix mould, and both of them are wrong, especially at the nose and in general shape. However they are a reasonable facsimile and are what they are.
The issue with this one is the atrociously poor blue-white transition line, which is far worse on the port side. The print is variable across both sides, with elements of the main logo being patchy, spotted, blurred or missing. On one side the rear door lines have just blurred to vanishing, and the famous TFTS (To Fly, To Serve) crest is even more vague than on the Gemini.
The overall quality of the primary colour detail – namely the blue, is simply rubbish.
2)Wings and landing gear
The wings are plain and simple enough, and have the same problems we usually find. The main issue is as always, over painting and the under-wing is detail free because it’s just vanished, under a deluge of glossy paint.
The landing gear is perfectly OK, other than the nose gear. This is tilted so the wheel sits forward and the right wheel is a different, (namely only part-painted) silver to the left wheel. The nose gear door is incorrectly carrying a red line which should be white.
Utter rubbish. The moulds are fine, but the paint and print is exceptionally poor, I am at a loss as to how they are so bad. The silver is an old fashioned large particle type, they seem to have given up the finer quality paint of last year. This stuff is blobby and amateurish, the blades are barely even painted, for the most part being plastic which shows through so badly Donald Trump’s hair would be more convincing by comparison.
The RR logo on the nacelles is poorly executed and lacks definition.
4) Nose detail
While the printed flight deck is less than illustrious, with the frames not matching the glass, the nose is suffering from their odd roller-effect in the paint. The detail is almost invisible to the naked eye, especially on one side, less so on the other. Some of the detail is just a blurred paint mark. It’s all pretty below par and the Gemini looks like perfection in comparison. For some reason the OneWorld logo is missing on one side and not the other, not that it matters as it’s illegible.
5) Tail and stabilisers
Poor paint definition, a patch of dust stuck to the white paint, the stabilisers not quite inserted properly but now remedied, poor definition of the blue in the union flag, blurred Royal Mail red logo, missing door detail in the frame, part of the tail top registration missing, slightly cracked paint where the vertical joins the body, excess glue, oh and the larger of the two rear antennae is tilting to one side.
Only an idiot could get these wrong, and thankfully on this they are a pass. However there is something not right about the fuselage white. It seems to be very thin and shows a tendency towards a very light grey. It certainly is not the sort of clean white on the Gemini that British Airways would approve of.
7) Score and conclusion
-10 for the engines, -20 for the paint issues across the board, -10 for all the blurry, print issues, colour bleeds and graphic issues, -5 for the nose gear wrongly inserted and odd wheels. 65% is a major fail.
It’s very disappointing to say the least. It’s not a patch on the quality I would have expected from a Phoenix 789, it’s not as good as the Gemini 788 by a long way. The worst thing overall is the huge engine fans look plastic because they are missing so much paint. Follow that with the awful blue line around the entire fuselage that blurs and bleeds it’s way around into the white and you have a chaotic and painful ugly travesty of a model. It’s going back. And I don’t want another. I’ll wait until Gemini produce it, anything is better than this rubbish.
I’m getting more and more private complaints every day about Phoenix models. Not everyone is fortunate enough to not worry about the cost. Some people just don’t have the money to loose on a bad model and those that just don’t care what they spend rarely care about the quality of what they buy. It’s people who save or get a small amount to spend on their hobby of choice that are hurt the most, to get a rubbish model when you paid good money, well that’s not a very nice feeling at all. It’s morally bankrupt on the part of the manufacturer and does nothing for the hobby in general.
I’m giving Phoenix the next delivery. If the November models are rubbish, they’ll be the last I buy until they sort themselves out. It’s time to call an end to this charade.