Singapore Airlines A330-343 9V-SSH Phoenix 11212 Jan 2016

With so many rumblings as to what might happen to Singapore Airlines models now the airline seem to be flexing their corporate licensing muscles again, after many years of ignoring the issue, I thought I’d grab one of these while they were around. After the JCW “hands up” HGW Delta A333 and it’s ‘higher than flight mode’ wing mould, and the similarly afflicted A332 Eurowings, it’s time to see if Phoenix have fixed some of their pretty dire A330 quality issues.

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This is a very new aircraft, one of 30 Singapore Airlines operate on regional long haul, to places like Perth, Melbourne, Chennai, Osaka and Hanoi. It doesn’t really fit the RLSI profile but, according to Airbus it can reach everywhere except most of the Americas, so it passes.

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9V-SSH was delivered in late August 2015.

1)Fuselage

The basic mould is perfectly good, I’ve never had a problem with it. The aerials aren’t brilliant, the front one tilts to the port side, the rear centre one to starboard and the rearmost appears small because it’s in upside down to make it look shorter. The one underneath is fine. As I’ve said many time before I’d rather just not have them if they cannot be bothered to do them properly.

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The print quality is very good and the definition passes the eyeball test but it doesn’t pass closer scrutiny.

You can ask why that matters and it’s simple. First it’s a matter of principle, we pay for quality and accuracy, and secondly older models from ten years ago were just as good if not better. Things should not be devolving, this is an aircraft model not the insanity that passes for American politics. We should be seeing things get better, not deteriorating to the point you can’t see any real improvements in a decade or more.

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The classic but complex Singapore Airlines livery has been well printed for the most part but there is definitely a problem with the thin orange line below the windows – it’s just too red. Close inspection reveals a lack of clarity in places, but it’s far better that we’ve seen on some of Phoenix’s recent models.

2) Wings and landing gear

The wings are in principle and general execution perfectly fine, if rather over glossy, especially the lighter grey. They hide detail as a direct result. The real issue, as always, they just don’t fit properly. The port wing is about half a millimeter out and the starboard half as much.

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Now admittedly it isn’t grossly unacceptable, far from it. They are much better than we have seen, but the fact they still haven’t got it right 100% is a bit pathetic.

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The landing gear is Phoenix-style over silvered toy paint, but it’s relatively fine and not excessive. Wheels and tyres are good; all roll and are fixed well into their sockets, especially important with the nose gear that Phoenix have had so many issues with in the past.

3)Engines

They’re actually OK even reasonably close up but don’t look to hard at the fans. These Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60’s have a fan in the exhaust which is always an odd thing to see but is in fact surprisingly efficient, if a little over-silvered paint wise.

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4)Nose detail

The nose cone isn’t brilliant, their seems to be some minor paint damage from the packaging, something we see more and more of now that the cheapskate accountants have taken away the protective nose plastic models always used to come with, (and have you noticed how small boxes are getting lately?)

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This is one of those, “it’s cheaper to take it away and replace the few models where they complain, than to put them in and keep everyone happy” moments. Damn your reputation then, what’s that worth to you? Obviously not much.

Other than that, its all quite passable, just not perfect, which is the best it seems we can now expect.

5) Tail detail

Haf a tube of glue appears to be holding one of the tail stabilisers in – too much is too visible.  The orange on the tail is too red of course, but it’s a relatively minor color issue in the bigger story. It’s all been done extremely neatly.

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6)Colours

The over-red orange-gold colored line and tail paint is my only gripe. It isn’t tragic, just not quite where it should be. However it is extremely well executed.

7)Score & Conclusions

Yet I do like the model, it’s a classic timeless livery and to those for whom the excruciating detail is not so much a concern, well you’ll probably love it.

I’m giving a -4 for the aerials, -4 for the wing fit, -5 for the excess tail glue and -6 for a color fail. 81%

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It could be better, it is better than some of the A330’s produced in 2015. It’s not perfection, it’s not a tragedy. It is that old haggard phrase, ‘commercially acceptable’. Not so bad you’d complain or throw it out, not so good that you’d rave about it. Manufacturing loves that sweet-spot. It extracts the most money from the customer, keeps returns to the lowest level they budgeted for, and makes the most profit. Best of all they delude themselves into thinking they’re making the best because complaints are low. If you say anything often enough, as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin prove, people believe you, you even start to believe it when you know it’s not really true.

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