Turkish Airlines A321 TC-JRG “Discover” Livery Phoenix 11241 March 2016

Turkish Airlines has been running rings around some of its big competitors in the Middle East and Europe for some time. When pundits talk about the ME3 they always refer to the Emirates, Etihad & Qatar trio. Turkey, at least for now, with political expediency running amok thanks to refugees and the war in Syria, has been able to hide behind a veil of European wishful thinking. Neither in one camp or the other, but with NATO membership, and a President who seems to be bent on one man rule, criticism of Turkey isn’t fashionable while The West needs it’s goodwill.

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Phoenix have done a superb job of reproducing the vivid colours on this model

So while Turkey’s President runs over his own people and anyone else, everyone looks away and pretends it’s not happening. The same thing has happened with Turkish Airlines. It’s grown at such a pace, spread routes far and wide into cities in every corner of Europe, North America, the Middle and Far East, and yet nobody has actually really noticed. It’s outgrown one airport and another is being built to service one of the largest cities on the European continent, Istanbul. Everywhere you look, if you look hard enough, you’ll find a Turkish Airlines flight. Do you hear the US majors complaining about it? Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline in the world.

Being inside Star Alliance allowed it to spread even faster, but Lufthansa, every watchful of its domestic market – Germans have a propensity for flying only exceeded by the British given the opportunity, suddenly realized they were having their own customer base shredded to the Middle East and Far East destinations by Turkish feeder flights – which under Star Alliance they were helping to promote.  Germany has nearly 4 million resident Turks who came there to feed the labor shortages of the 1960’s and 70’s, so there’s a natural market in the country regardless.

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In her standard colours prior to the repaint.

In an unprecedented move, Lufthansa cut off code sharing with Turkish Airlines to protect their own market share. And yet nobody else did. Today, there are 3 flights a day out of BHX alone, that I see – another example of how British airlines have divorced themselves from the regions and allowed foreign carriers to pick up the huge demand. And you know, all I can say is good for them, because the opportunities it’s brought locally have been vast. The same story is repeated all over Europe.

Turkish Airlines has also taken a leaf out of the marketing strategies of the ME3, sponsoring European soccer teams, major events and recently the Superman v Batman movie, with a painfully twisted and contorted message about flying to Gotham City that stretched marketing credibility to its limits.

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If you’ve ever been to Istanbul, especially the old city, its an amazing place. This special livery, “Discover The Potential” utilizes some of the extraordinary ceramic patterns from the Blue Mosque (now a museum) and Topkapi Palace to emphasize the countries diverse and extraordinary history and culture.

It links to the website turkeydiscoverthepotential.com, to encourage you to visit and do business, although with escalating violence and random bombings since the Kurds came under attack again by the government, and Islamic State next door, visitor numbers have dropped.

It shows again, that though we often don’t see it consciously, airlines and air travel are inextricably linked to so many governments and government policy, in this case trying to pull a veil over the problems that lay beneath.

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The aircraft is a 2007 A321-231, fitted in a CY194 configuration. She was previously painted in Turkish Airlines standard livery and is one of 59 in their fleet. She’s named ‘Finicke’, after the ancient town of Pheonicus west of Antalya. Anyone think this mildly coincidental?

1)Fuselage

The mould is quite a good one – nicer than Gemini/JCW’s but not quite as good as Aeroclassics. Having said that, the quality of the very complex ceramics and indeed the entire livery, is exceptionally well done.

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The grey skies of England brightened up by this superbly reproduced livery

The key to making this work has been the luminescence of the colours. If you see these ceramics for yourself as I have, it’s the stunning luxury of the colour, the depth, brightness and vivacity that makes them so enchanting and memorable. Phoenix have captured the spirit of this exceptionally well.

I would actually go as far to say that this is probably the best special livery on a smaller aircraft I have ever seen, regardless of manufacturer. Seriously impressive.

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The aerials are another marked improvement both is size and fitting, excellent. The one underneath even has a red tip as it should.

I should mention that the stand hole wasn’t much help. It’s become a victim of the slats used to fix the wings in, blocking access to the hole for the most part and it sits on a stand only with the aid of some white-tac.

2)Wings and landing gear

Phoenix cannot seem to help themselves when it comes to wings, they just make them too glossy, but while they are, at the same time it’s not obscured the detail,  and the finish and fit is excellent all the way down to the tiny wing fences and the Turkish logo. The wings are also well fitted.

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The landing gear is OK, tyres and wheels good, but the wheels at the nose and on the left side were not well fitted, requiring them to be squeezed between thumb and forefinger to sit correctly and fix.  This seems to be a new fault as another model in the same delivery, again an Airbus A320 series, has exactly the same issue but worse.

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3)Engines

As so often with the engines on A320series aircraft, Phoenix, especially with these IAE V2533-A5’s, do a really nice job of everything – except the exhaust! White rims with not particularly brilliant paint finish is a common fault at the back end. Annoying when the rest of it is in fact so good.

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4)Nose detail

Complaint free. Excellent.

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5)Tail detail

The photos give the impression that the horizontal stabiliser isn’t fixed in well, but it’s something of an optical illusion caused by the tail mould recessing but the horizontal edge of the stabiliser not being able to sit flat. It’s just one of those things and you really can’t tell from a naked eye perspective.  It’s otherwise beautifully done.

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6)Colours

A remarkable achievement for Phoenix, getting them all spot on. I wonder if that’s because the model is actually a fully authorized Turkish Airlines item, for sale in their shop? It seems that like Gemini/JCW, give Phoenix some compulsory standards to work to, a paying client, such as an airline, and they can achieve far above what they normally manage. If only they had the same respect for the individual collector.

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7)Score and conclusions

  • -6 for the rear of the engines, just scruffy and poorly finished
  • -2 for the nose gear issue
  • -3 for the stand hole fail, this matters to me and to many others as well
  • 89% is an excellent score. So close to being a MOTY entrant for this year, but trust Phoenix to ‘spoil the ship for a half penny of tar’.

I’m convinced that being a fully official licensed product, it’s had a bearing on the end result. It’s enough to make you wonder if it wouldn’t actually be a good idea for every airline to have the same input. That however is the subject for another article another time.

In this case it’s a pretty good model. The best A320/321 I’ve seen from Phoenix and substantially better quality than the recent A320’s out of Gemini.  A great effort. If only all could be made to this standard as a minimum!

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