A sweet irony; I ‘m actually sat on a Virgin Atlantic 787-9 as I write this. The photos were done a few days ago.
Some people express dislike for the Air Canada livery. I’m not one of them. As a non-Canadian, I think it sums up the country rather well and we all have to be grateful for one thing in particular – it isn’t white!
The last large aircraft model I had in AC colours was the Witty 1:400 version, which is a superb example of the 788, back in early 2014. It has those amazing see-through engines and a quality of detail and finish that is verging on perfection. The other model is that tobacco stain coloured A320 from Velocity, which is truly horrible as mis-coloured models go. Before that there was a sold off A320 in another misplaced blue from JCW I think. That now lives in Iowa.
It isn’t an easy colour to get right, but it isn’t impossible.
Air Canada’s 787-9’s, C-FNOE being the first, delivered on 27 July 2015, will be the backbone of it’s long haul services, 29 are planned by the end of 2019. There are only 8 788’s planned in total.
The 787-9 is equipped with 30 business class, 21 premium economy and 247 economy class. In layout they are probably the closest to the 787-9’s operated by Virgin Atlantic, though the interior style is very different. In fact AC 787 interior are pretty amazing places.
So how have Gemini fared on this model with their old mould?
It was hinted to me the lettering on the fuselage was too high or misplaced, but I have to be honest after pawing through a load of photographs, I don’t see that at all. There is another issue, but it isn’t size or position.
Generally speaking the door detail and colour choices are superior to and more accurate than those Gemini chose for the KLM or BA 789’s that this arrived with. In fact of the three, this is hands down the best of them by a wide margin. You have to ask again, quality control, consistency; where are they?
This aircraft is not festooned with domes and aerials like some, just three up top, which as usual Gemini provide two of, with one at the bottom rear.
In terms of detail and general accuracy, it’s a very good fuselage. It’s other areas, and you can guess which, it falls down badly.
2)Wings and landing gear
The usual story, the ghastly cradle that doesn’t even fit because it’s too wide, especially, and oddly, at the rear bottom left. The unicoloured body means that it doesn’t stand out as glaringly as it does on the two-tone BA and KLM. However you can hardly miss it. If it was the real thing you’d refuse to get on it.
The fit on this cradle at the front is also poor, and you can see easily visible gaps, and it’s far too easy to see through from one side to the other, straight through the fuselage, to be honest it’s pants from a quality perspective. Most people would put up with it I suppose, you usually do. I’m wondering if I should have bought the Phoenix version, and might do so if I can find one.
The annoying thing is that from above, where most of us will see it, the wings are really good, with detail Phoenix don’t bother with for some reason, in terms of the NO STEP markers.
Landing gear is average. The port side gear doesn’t sit quite flat, the reason is the crooked cradle. Not only that but not one of the wheels, neat as they are, rotates and the doors have the same poor paint issue as the BA version.
Now generally these are pretty good. Rim and fan quality is excellent, the slight – and this is being picky, downside is what looks like brush marks, in the nacelle paint are a bit obvious in bright light, but that’s a pretty easy to ignore.
4) Nose detail
For the most part no problems. The flight deck paint is definitely better than on the BA/KLM versions, though in close up there is a tiny bit of bleed into the blue, it’s not an issue.
5)Tail and stabilisers
There are strings of glue in the paint at the tail, the under-stabiliser gaps are horrible, but from above you’d not tell. Turn it over and it’s not so pretty. The tail fin and graphics are really neat and generally fault free.
Too dark on the blue by possibly 1.5 shades, too dark on the red lettering. I actually think the lettering is the right colour but the blue being too dark has affected the shade of red printed onto it. It’s a complex mica reflective paint that is hard to pin down as a solid. Is it so bad as to be unacceptable? No, not at all. It might not be perfect but it’s certainly a whole lot better than that velocity A32o and it isn’t that far out from the Witty 788. On this, it’ll pass.
7)Score and conclusions
The ugly cradle is really nasty. It works from above but no way does it work below. It scrapes the bottom of commercial acceptability. Indeed I would say this is the bottom of the acceptability barrel- anything worse than this and it wouldn’t even make that lamentable grade. The really horrible thing is, that if they replaced the cradle mould with another that fitted as neatly as the Etihad 744F, this would have rocked it’s score upwards.
-15 for the cradle, it’s the poorest fit of the three 789’s this month by far. -4 for the stabiliser under fit and -4 for the paint fail on the landing gear doors, -2 for the gear wheels being stuck. 75%. With a perfect cradle, that could have been 90%. Another model that cannot qualify for the MOTY 2015.
It is though, about consistency and quality control again. Gemini consistently cock up these 787-9’s by refusing to deal with this ugly cradle. It’s not good enough on a model that is so crucial to modern aviation. The varying levels of paint and print quality over three models from the same release, is frankly extraordinary. The KLM was a livery fail and technically poor, the BA an untidy model only made better by the fact the Phoenix version was so much worse! And this, other than its cradle, was pretty good.
I have to say that unless there are improvements, there will not be any more 789 models from Gemini for me. The American Airlines 788 was nothing like these – it was so good in comparison. So what happened? So far out of five models we have an 80% fail rate. One 737-800 to go.