Qatar Amiri Flight 748i A7-HHE Phoenix 11239 March 2016

It may be painted in Qatar’s standard airline livery but there is nothing ordinary about this 747-8i Boeing Business Jet.

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If you have more money than you can ever think up spending, nobody to tell you it looks a bit dodgy spending almost half a billion dollars on the largest off-the-shelf commercial airliner frame available, then filling it with enough expensive, endangered rain forest, gold, and marble to have fed most of Africa’s starving millions for a month, well this is what you buy.

There seems to be no irony in the fact you already have 13 other aircraft in the fleet ranging from A310 to A340-500. Not only that but in case one of these wasn’t sufficient, this is the second one.  Maybe by painting it in the airlines’ livery the average Qatari (or more likely the tens of thousands of low paid immigrants who keep everything running), might not notice it quite so much. Then with the worlds highest per capita income (Qatari citizens only), and nobody required to pay tax does it matter?

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There’s been a sort of race for the Arabian monarchies – which let’s be factual, are unrepresentative autocracies  ruled over by entrenched families whose wealth is beyond comprehension for most people. Here, it would be called “keeping up with the Jones'” – in other words, the rich neighbor has one, so I have to as well, because I can’t be seen to have anything less. The King of Saudi Arabia never goes anywhere without two of these, Qatar’s ruler now has two, the Sultan of Oman now has one, several wealthy individuals inside these states have them.

Amusingly only one Saudi prince ever considered an A380, ordered it, then sold the rights to another prince, who realized even he couldn’t afford to run it, and it was eventually cancelled. Maybe there are limits.

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The Qatar Amiri Flight is in effect an on-demand government run and owned state VIP airline, that flies the ruling élite whenever and wherever they want to go. While not listed in the QAF they also have a Qatar liveried C-17 that gets used for shipping the limo’s and whatever else is required, wherever it’s needed. This isn’t some nuclear armed super power. It’s a postage stamp sized desert kingdom not much bigger than Rhode Island.

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look between the rear two doors and the grey/white is far from crisp and even

Now you might say why did you buy it then, in model form? Firstly, the Qatar livery on a 748 is rather interesting. From an airport diorama point of view it just adds a touch of realism and it’s unique. It also always reminds me of the worlds inequalities, and of course it’s a talking point. It makes Donald Trump’s 757 look like a spoilt teenagers pimped ride.

Formally the aircraft is a Boeing 747-8KB(BBJ) And was delivered 28th February 2012. Originally she was in an all white livery but seems to have been re-sprayed at Victorville during December-January 2015-16.

1)Fuselage

The 748 in both Intercontinental and freight versions have always been excellent. This is no different as moulds go.

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This particular aircraft has a no less than 4 comms domes, for everything from high-speed broadband to direct satellite HD TV connections. Extraordinarily, Phoenix have managed to get all four into the roof and everyone one of them is flush and fits. That must be be a first in itself. Now under close scrutiny they look a bit rough, but they don’t look at all bad from the eyeball test.

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One of them (third from front to back) has a tiny bit of excess grey paint on it, and as the domes are white that is noticeable with the naked eye, but it’s sufficiently minor that it doesn’t detract.

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The paint line is not straight or consistent on either side

The three aerials up top, well they’re just excellent. Superbly painted, fitted and scaled. The rear one is exceptionally small but looks superbly done. The lower waste water-heater one is correctly painted red.

Being a BBJ it has a customized window lay-out on both decks which appears to be accurate.

The main issue with this model is the way the white-grey has been printed between doors 3 and 5 on both sides. It’s particularly noticeable between 4 and 5. The line just isn’t straight, it seems to be noticeably kinked, especially around the first window behind door 4. That’s the point it’s naked eye visible, where the rest of it is harder to see unless you look for it. Why producing a crisp clean line finish is so hard is beyond me, it seems mildly ridiculous and Phoenix really need to try harder. The same problem exists near the nose.

2)Wings and landing gear

The wings are perfectly shaped, just chronically over glossed. They need to be more of a silk finish rather than this shiny glossy paint. One could also argue that the two sets of forward aerofoils should be white rather than silver. Either way the paint is well finished.

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The downside is the port side wing is nowhere near as well fitted as the starboard side, appearing to have more of a gap, however slight, to the fuselage.

The landing gear is the best I’ve ever seen on a Phoenix, faultless and very realistic.

3) Engines

Lovely moulds, for the most part excellent. The fan colour is most acceptable. The rims though…No 1 is fine, No.2 is so-so. No 3 isn’t good at all, just look at the photos, No 4 is equally disappointing, with a noticeable lump at the 2  o’clock position. No 2 also has a white patch on the inside of the casing. For large units like this, problems do stand out more than is ideal. What is it with this silver paint? It’s quite bizarre.

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What is it with the silver paint on the rims? How do they always seem to manage to screw them up?

The engine pylons are nothing to special either, the paint looks like it was applied while the under coat was wet, resulting in bleed and a rough finish.

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Only No.1 engine is good, No2 has a huge lump of paint missing inside the nacelle

4)Nose detail

Generally OK but could be better. The radome lines are only present under magnification, you just cannot see them with the naked eye. There are more grey/white transition paint issues along the entire nose section and they are visible.

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Inconsistent/bleeding paint line. You can just make out the radome detail, but its invisible to the naked eye

5)Tail detail

The port stabiliser isn’t pushed in far enough and there’s a small amount of missing paint at the top rear of the vertical.

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The stabiliser fit could be better

6)Colours

No issues.

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7)Score and conclusions

  • – 10 for the paint line not being straight either side, and grey/white bleed
  • -4 for visible engine paint issues.
  • -2 for the wing fit difference
  • -2 for the stabiliser fit
  • 82% is a very substantial improvement for Phoenix over some of their recent models, but it’s no Model Of The Year candidate, though it deserves a mention for Phoenix doing something out of the ordinary.

The model is definitely different and unique, that’s why I bought it. A slight improvement in quality terms by Phoenix, the domes are worthy of a mention by themselves. The silver rim paint and the grey-white transition line, is just not good enough and they must try harder.

It’s not a bad model, nor is it excellent, it’s entirely passable, but it’s only just above minimum standards. Again, commercially acceptable, but not outstanding.

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