Oman Air 787-8 A40-SA Phoenix 11208 Jan 2016

This is the only model I purchased from this specific Phoenix release. I’m tired of the poor quality and thought I’d try something different for the rest of the order. It arrived in yesterday with two JC Wings models and 4 more Herpa catering trucks for RLSI (total now 24). And, something I never usually do, a second La Compagnie 752 before they all vanish never to re-appear.

So, Oman Air. If you’ve never been to the Middle east, Oman is an oasis of relaxed tranquility, astonishing beauty, extraordinary cuisine, charming people and some stunning geography. It’s also one of the worlds biggest producers of LPG, having little oil compared to its northern neighbours. Oman has trodden a middle path, avoiding conflict, extremism and goes about it’s business quietly. You can thank the now elderly and ailing Sultan Qaboos for that, a relatively enlightened and much respected monarch. His first personal jet, a VC-10 is at Brooklands Museum in South West London, along with one of the BA Concords. Nowadays he goes about in a 748i. Well you would wouldn’t you?

I mention the above because it has a bearing. Any national state owned airline, however run, is the sum of it’s nations aspirations. It represents in it’s look and feel, espoused in it’s livery, what that nation feels represents it to the rest of the world.1400Reviews-OmanAir-788-A40-SA-Phnx-CpywrtJonChamps 9

The livery was designed in 2008 by TBWA and the paint scheme and specific colours by Airbus initially for the A330’s. The tail swirl is meant to represent Frankincense smoke. This much prized substance, so valued that it’s said to have been presented to a baby Jesus by one of the three kings, is still much in demand, especially in religious states and Oman is by far it’s largest producer. The gold, as in most of the Middle East represents wealth and success. The blues represent the extraordinary seas and sky colours the country is famed for, the silvers the mist and fog that maintain an extraordinary climate, especially along the southern coast.

Oman Air is not Emirates or anything like it, it’s ambitions are to simply deliver a quality, reasonably priced service. If anything it’s a relatively modest airline – rather like Oman in general. The 787-8 is a major addition to their fleet of midrange aircraft based on A330’s. It’s designed to allow longer range direct flights, a market that has been sucked up by neighbouring Dubai, to Oman’s detriment, with locals often driving over the border to fly on Emirates.

So how have Phoenix done on this model? It’s a 787-8 so one of the few models they rarely screw up completely, but it’s been known!1400Reviews-OmanAir-788-A40-SA-Phnx-CpywrtJonChamps 6.jpg

1)Fuselage

One thing that often happens is that manufacturers race to market with a new livery and cock the whole thing up. GJ’s Virgin Atlantic G-VNEW in late 2014 being a prime example and the GJ and Phoenix Vietnam A350 and 788 in mid-2015, even the GJ KLM 787-9 late in 2015 shows clear signs of being rushed to market. For such a new aircraft, Phoenix have done a reasonably good job with this one.1400Reviews-OmanAir-788-A40-SA-Phnx-CpywrtJonChamps 10.jpgThe fuselage is spot on from my observations, I’ve been starring at photos for detail and I’m hard pushed to find a single thing wrong with it. The quality and definition are absolutely first rate – even the doors have minor detail on them that is simply extraordinary in its refinement. The downside is a roughness in the paint edge on the upper blue-white transition above the wings. The three upper aerials are seated and fixed perfectly, as is the single mid-mounted one below. The downside is that the rearmost one appears to be upside down again. The domes up top are moulded in and painted extremely neatly.

The red markings on the roof are exceptionally fine, the livery is exceptionally well applied for the most part.

A minor downside, not the first time this has happened on a high-gloss finish Phoenix model, is that the gold arabic writing above the forward OMAN AIR has a habit of being swamped by the glossy white; in certain lights and angles it almost vanishes. Nowhere near as bad as the Royal Jordanian though.

2)Wings and landing gear

Phoenix still don’t print the NO STEP and black lines onto the wings upper surfaces, but on this model the paint isn’t quite as thick as I’ve seen before, allowing more detail to show through. Have they cut the paint back by a few microns? Who knows? I doubt it was deliberate. Other than that the wings are excellent.1400Reviews-OmanAir-788-A40-SA-Phnx-CpywrtJonChamps 2.jpgI’m delighted to report that the nose gear and bogies are all pretty good, if fixed in place. Doors are a good shape and not displaying any sign of zinc rot! All the wheels rotate, though the tyres are a bit lumpy.1400Reviews-OmanAir-788-A40-SA-Phnx-CpywrtJonChamps 5.jpg

3)Engines

You know it, it’s my pet hate. Bad engines is something far to visible when you’re carrying these massive high bypass power units, with their huge silver rims and massive fans. Now the fans are great from a naked eye perspective, as are the nacelles and the general detail. The rims are neatly painted. Then some twit shoved them in the penny-pinching ultra-tight super-thin plastic cradle for shipping. And that my friends is what stands out on this model – the paint has been rubbed in transit and ruined the rim finish.

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The rubbed silver rim looks particularly bad on close up, but is less dire to the naked eye, looking a little rough, but not tragically so.

Does it matter? It’s particularly noticeable on the No.1 engine, though to be fair it passes the eyeball test at two feet for ‘normal’ people, and not nit-picking obsessives like me. The trouble is these models are very expensive for what they are and any detail fail or product issue is bad news. I wouldn’t mind so much if that was where it stopped.

4) Nose detail

No complaints, excellent, I love the Phoenix flight deck window treatment, it’s so much better that the Gemini black.

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The engine rubbed paint is clearly visible in this image.

5) Tail detail

This is where we suffer from  more packaging created damage. Partly, the silver, which is a little bit large in the particles and seems to have been thinned too much, hasn’t quite worked on the ultra gloss mid-grey of the vertical stabiliser leading edge. As such it hasn’t bonded well, then it’s dried and rubbed off on the packaging.  There are other small marks – though they’re not overtly visible –  even on the blue.

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Penny pinching thin and overly tight packaging with minimal plastic sheet protection is responsible for engine and tail damage.

6) Colours

These are a sophisticated set of modern mica-metallics and as such they can vary greatly in observed colour. Have a look at a wide range of photos and the variation is staggering. Therefore, having seen plenty of evidence, I’m going to pass this one as perfectly acceptable. There is one weakness, and that’s the gold in the twist on the tail logo. It just isn’t gold enough and doesn’t match the gold stripes in the fuselage livery as it should.

7) Score and conclusions

-3 for the engine paint on No1, -4 for the tail paint issue and -2 for the colour fail in the gold of the tail, -5 for the paint edge on the blue on the fuselage, because you can see it. So thats 87%.1400Reviews-OmanAir-788-A40-SA-Phnx-CpywrtJonChamps 1.jpg

It’s an incredibly pretty aircraft, elegant and refined looking in this livery, proving yet again that the 787 is the most ‘liverygenic’ ™  aircraft on the planet.  For Phoenix, who made the model in November/December 2015 it marks an improvement in quality overall. But as the Ent’s say in Lord of The Rings, ‘don’t be hasty’. This is the 787 and it’s one model Phoenix can do really brilliantly. The next time they release an A330 I actually want, I’ll risk it and see. That’s where they screw up continuously and that’s where any real improvement will have to be seen to truly be believed.

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