The Fokker 70. Sit in row 15 in either F or A, and enjoy the giant fast bumble-bee sound of the Rolls Royce Tay 620-15 engines which are clearly visible through the windows. You can actually see into them.
The odd 2-3 single aisle layout is a slightly strange experience but KLM’s slim black leather seats and relatively modern interiors are not too bad. More leg room than you’d think likely on these 80 seaters.
Like many smaller aircraft the entrance is through its own deployable stairs.
KLM has a sizeable fleet and they are starting to show there age, indeed they are now scheduled to leave service between late 2016 and 2018 as more new E-Series jets come on board. Pity they weren’t CS100/300’s but there we go, KLM already has a huge fleet of E195’s.
The F70’s ply various short-haul routes around Europe from Amsterdam Schipol. In the winter months one or more each day comes into BHX as part of KLM’s 5 times a day service. Often they fly overhead, and I’ve been on a few. It’s hard to spot them on FR24 as when they drop below 3,000ft they stop being picked up – FlyBe aircraft do this and most Dash-8’s, so seeing one out of my office window at home is luck and guesswork!
The last time Gemini did one of these KLM F70’s in the now old livery, was 2008. In the middle of last year I reported on how a couple of them were on eBay at the same time but one went for £44 because nobody noticed it, and another got caught in a bidding frenzy and cost someone £110. You can get the new one from a retailer for around £24.
KLM Cityhopper is technically a separate airline from the main KLM brand, established in 1991 and currently runs around 47 aircraft, 17 of them F70’s averaging 20.1 years. The original fleet consisted of 26 aircraft.
This one PH-KZU, was delivered only in 2009, having originally been Air Litoral (PH-RRU) in the Netherlands from June 1995, then transferred to Air Litoral in France (F-GLIU), re-branded into Air France Régional in May 2004 and transferred to KLM post merger with Air France as PH-KZU in 2009. I believe she was the first of the F70’s to be painted into KLM’s new livery. As such she’ll be one of the last ones to depart service I suspect.
It’s an old mould and it shows, though I don’t think it’s been used that much. Fokker before their demise, didn’t have that many customers.
The general quality of the detail and print is high across the entire model, from an eyeball perspective it fails only in one place, more of that later. Personally I think the nose is a little too rounded, but we could argue that all day.
Good thing, no aerials. clearly too small and complex (and expensive), to get them into this tiny model. The two domes are moulded and painted but they are not as white as they should be; too much blue shows through and gives them a grey tint.
2)Wings and landing gear
despite it being a cradle system fit, it’s very neat and tight. The wings are though, way to thick but then there comes a point where you have to make a compromise on what’s actually viable at this scale so it’s perfectly easy to accept. Upper surface detail is outstanding, less so underneath which suffers from excess paint.
Landing gear. Tyres on wheels yes, a good thing but the rubber is thin and weak, especially on the tiny nose gear tyres. They’ll have to be watched very carefully in case they go AWOL.
From the side they are fine, from the front, to the naked eye they are OK, but on close up, err, well lets not go there shall we? Let’s say a little messy, but because of the physical size, the impact is negligible. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been better. The silver paint is actually quite refined and suits the scale very well.
As with every other aircraft in the KLM stable except the badly botched 787-9 – the very aircraft that first introduced it, Gemini have got the new nose drop-line just right. Until you reach the very tip of the nose where it doesn’t quite work so well. However, as with so much of this model, you really cannot tell at normal eyesight level. Only close-ups reveal it’s a little off.
The point is if you’re me and I can’t tell what does it mater? And I’m a nit-picking nightmare. There is however one thing that has failed and is visible. The nose gear door print with the fleet number ZU-024 has been blurred out of existence on one side.
5)Tail and stabilizers
Perfectly OK in every respect. My only tought is that the APU exhaust (starboard side only), should have been dark grey or black rather than silver, but again, no big issue.
No issues at all.
7)Score and conclusion
-1 for the rubbed off nose gear door detail, -3 for the less than robust tyres all round, -2 for the engine intakes. 94% is a damned good score.
It has to be accepted that two models in this year and Gemini are doing very well. Please, please keep it up. Let’s not have one of those Phoenix style sprint to the top runs and then collapse and die routines!