Swiss 777-3DE(ER) HB-JNA “Faces of Swiss” livery Phoenix 11251 May 2016

 

Swiss Inetrnational Airlines was born on 31st March 2002, after SwissAir finally collapsed following long drawn out attempts to save it, and the Swiss Federal Government wouldn’t bail it out. Now a fully owned subsidiary of Lufthansa, Swiss has been profitable for some time and allowed pretty much free reign to operate as a stand alone airline, with little interference from its German parent.

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The price of this profitability has been very few new aircraft over an extended period, and the fleet age is now approaching 14 years on average. The core of the long range fleet are 14 A343’s along with the mid range fleet of 14 A333’s.

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An odd fact of life for me is I get SFO bound and returning aircraft over both of my houses, one each end of their journey, high over RLS and low over the back of San Carlos, or on approach over the bay like this one (HB-JMH (zoom x100). The next time I go, these, like so much else will be history.

It’s not uncommon for me to see the A343’s flying overhead on their return fights from SFO and LAX. The only A343’s that pass over daily now, (with the ocasional exception of Air Tahiti Nui), their wide 4 engine trails uniquely visible.

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A343 HB-JMM at 33,000ft LAX-ZRH 12th May over RLS

The need for new aircraft was pressing, especially on the highly competitive Asian and US routes. The ME3 also started to take an ever growing slice of Swiss business with new and better aircraft flying to Zuhrich. The A350 would take too long, the 787 was too small and had too much of a backlog. The quick way forward was the current 773ER and Lufthansa were quick to approve the choice. Swiss intends on using them on LAX, SFO, HKG and PVG routes. 9 Aircraft have been ordered with deliveries during 2016-17.

For a great overview of the aircraft watch this: Swiss 777-300ER Video

The first of nine arrived in January 2016, orginally in the standard Swiss livery to surprisng amounts of international interest, but was quickly taken away and had the special “Faces of Swiss” livery applied. The design is represetnative of Swiss pilots, crew and other employees who make the airline what it is. Follow on aircraft, HB-JNB and HB-JNC  have been supplied in the standard livery. They’ve been operating short haul and medium long to familiarse staff since delivery, often doing hops like Zuhrich-Barcelona, or Hannover, even short hops to Geneva, with one or two trips to Montreal in Canada, and Athens.

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The two sides of the aircraft are completely different, but in total there are 2,500 different faces of the airlines employees from 80 nationalities in 34 countries around the world. This was designed to thank all the staff, and promote “Truly SWISS…where people matter”. 450 square meters of special film were used and it’s just 0.05mm thick. The largest faces are 7m high.

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Each aircraft is fitted with 8 First class, 62 Business and 270 Economy seats (340 total), making it fairly high desnity. Seats in First are in 1-2-1 layout, with business in 1-2-2 or 2-2-1 alternating. Economy is in 3-4-3 with 20 extra leg room seats (10 at the front of each split cabin), and a Preferred Zone in economy in rows 23-30 for Miles & More loyalty customers.

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This is a big deal for Swiss, it takes them into the future, in a managed and well constructed way that ensures the airlines survival. We wont be saying goodbye to the A343’s that soon either, several of them will transfer to Swiss subsidiary Edelweiss.

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So now the big question – how has this translated in 1:400 scale? My expectations are high. It was £33 ($47) and the real challenge will be that graphic. The information and detail were easily available. If they screw it up, Phoenix only have themselves to blame….

1)Fuselage

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You have to hand it to Phoenix this time, they’ve done a superb job of the fueslage. The print is first rate and the level of detail is outstanding.  Indeed the closer you look the more you can see and the quality doesn’t seem to deteriorate. Both technical and graphic detail are first class. I’m very pleased with it, it looks first rate and nothing seems to detract from it. Nothing excpet that tiny black mark at the front of the comms dome….

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2)Wings and landing gear

The wings are beautifully made and perfectly fitted. I still think they use too much high-gloss for the paint on the wings and should think about a more matt finish.

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The landing gear is well made and fitted, though some of the tyres are a bit lumpy. Far better than we’ve seen on some later versions of the 777 from Phoenix. The main bogies tilt and all of the wheels roll.

3)Engines

I keep thinking I must be suffering from jet lag and have become confused. Is the paint on these engines actually alright?  Well it is mostly. There are, if you look at the silver rims, weaknesses in the paint  that ideally shouldn’t be there. However for the most part it’s entriely passable. The nacelles are excellent, as are the exhausts. Even the paint coulour is acceptable.

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4)Nose detail

I always think the nose is a little flat at the tip on this mould, but thats just how they are. The general detail as with the rest of the model is excellent. I really cannot find any fault. One thing that notices on this photo more than on others is the mould fail on the forward edge of the satellite comms dome. They have managed to push the thing in more than adequately, but the basic dome mould is flawed. Yes, it is relatively minor  but they always have to do something that’s not quite up to standard.

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5)Tail detail

No issues at all

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6)Colours

Based on the Swiss flag, no issues at all. Even the shading and look of the graphic seems on form.

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7)Score and conclusions

  • -1 for the comms dome black hole
  • -1 for the lumpy tyres
  • 98% is a brilliant score, qualifying it for Model Of The Year 2016 entry

We all wanted this to be good and it is. It’s received a huge amount of interest internationally; far more than average for an old aircraft type. Old SwissAir was one of the great élite airlines of the world, there was no small amount of national shame that it went under; Switzerland is so efficient by reputation. These modern investments in the futue of the successor arline really matter; it shows it’s moved onward and upward and started to recover its former glory.  Swiss, and The Swiss, can feel rightly proud of their airline once again.

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