Norwegian 787-9 EI-LNI ‘Greta Garbo’ Phoenix 11247 May 2016


Back in January 2015 Aeroclassics delivered Norwegian’s 737-86N LN-NOM in Greta Garbo livery. You can read that review here: LN-NOM. It turns out that LN-NOM is now stored and her tail livery has been removed so that this 787-9 EI-LNI can take on carrying the legendary film star’s image .


Greta Garbo made 28 films during cinemas’ early golden age, but more than that, she redefined women and their power in ways that still resonate. She genuinely broke the mould, the famous glass ceiling Hilary Clinton mentions so often, and more than a few hearts. Some consider her one of the most important women of the 20th century for changing the perception of men to women, and women about themselves.

Greta Garbo was of course Swedish, and there is, as with all things in airline politics, no lack of coincidence she graces Norwegian Airlines new 787-9 flagship. If any airline was trying to break the current mould, crash through glass ceilings and change the way the industry operates, Norwegian is it.

The US airlines and ALPA are hand over fist opposed to Norwegian being granted access to the US, but the DoT has had to grant it access anyway in principle and will have to formally, or be in breach of the Open Skies treaty. The whole thing has been entirely academic in the end. Norwegian has used its UK and Scandinavian AOC’s to push on with flights to Los Angeles, Oakland-SFO, Boston and more are planned.

Greta Garbo at LAX

The US Airlines have some small level of validity for what they are saying – European airlines like Lufthansa and Air France are just as opposed – though BA/IAG interestingly aren’t. The fact is in the end, BA don’t fear the competition. They know they offer a certain product and people will pay for it.

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Norwegian’s offering is quite different. The US Airlines though, faced with high-end competition from superb product offerings deployed by the ME3, and a quality low-priced offering from Norwegian, well they feel squeezed. They’ve gotten away for years without doing anything about improvements, and now they’ve been forced into changes.

So despite the handful of Norwegian flights, they’ve had a disproportionate impact. Just like Greta Garbo.

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Norwegian has been very clever over the use of holding companies – all of the Dreamliners are operated by Norwegian Long Haul AS – based in Norway, which means they can operate from anywhere in the EU/EU associate states areas. The 787-9’s were Irish registered to get an Irish AOC for long haul operations to the US, but that seems to have been let slip for political reasons. It was the labour hiring laws that advantaged Norwegian through Ireland and infuriated ALPA.  Like it or not America, Norwegian is coming.

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The Norwegian contingent at RLSI – including two Greta Garbo’s!

EI-LNI is configured in two classes, a 35 seat Premium Economy  in 2-3-2 at the nose and 312 in economy, laid out as 31 rows of 3-3-3 and 2 at the very rear of 3 in the middle. Rows 9 & 10 are both 3 seats on the left side only.

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The odd thing is that despite the emphasis on low cost, if you price up a Norwegian flight against BA departing 1st Sep, back on the 15th, Norwegian to Oakland for San Francisco and BA to San Jose for San Francisco as their is so little in it by distance, BA is just £19 more for Premium Economy. And that was Willy Walsh’s point all along – why worry? There’s only £7 in it for the average economy mid-range fare. True low cost is mostly myth, as the airlines have found, few really buy the base fare and stick with it, 80+% upgrade it either at the time of purchase or later.

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For the most part it’s all pretty good to be honest, detail is sufficient and accurate enough to be more than passable. Where it falls down is the circular red-white-blue that goes around the entire fuselage between the nose end and the white main body. It’s not very precise in one or two places and is too easily seen with the naked eye.  It’s a pity as this really is the only detraction from a rather excellent all round finish. Having said that, I am being quite picky (don’t look so shocked), as you wouldn’t notice from a cursory glance.

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Photos like this are exceptionally hard to create, restructuring the missing areas after stand extraction takes ages!

2)Wings and landing gear

IMG_0109Wings are very white and glossy but precise. However they lack correct basic “NO STEP” and black line markings; the line and some lettering is clearly there but it’s not correctly laid out or very clear. Gemini are better in this respect but, sadly Gemini’s 787 mould and cradle wing fit make them utterly unacceptable, as evidenced by the KLM/BA models at the end of 2015.

The image here is of a Virgin Atlantic 787-9 I took out of the window, clearly showing the markings are present.

The landing gear is solid but all of the wheels rotate well and the tyres look good on decent wheels.


These are actually very well done and easily pass the naked eye test. The silver rims are spot on and the colour excellent. RR logos and nacelle detail are more than acceptable.

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4)Nose detail

The one thing that clearly differentiates this from the 788 is the extended nose section in red. It’s unusual to be able to see so clearly the difference in the sizes of the aircraft. Another clear differentiator is that on this model, they did what they didn’t do on the 788 version, they just left the window outline in black, which is far more accurate than the silver used before.

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The one thing that is missing is the top hatch markings above the cockpit – very clearly visible on the real thing as the top photo of the real aircraft shows. Other than my comments about the circular finish made elsewhere, nothing more to add.

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5)Tail detail

It’s an excellent print and looks brilliant, the rest of the tail is more than passable.

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Absolutely spot on, first class colour match right across the board. they are so good they even match the Aeroclassics 737-800’s!1400Reviews-787-9-Ei-ENI Greta Garbo-Norwegian-Phoenix-CpywrtJonChamps2016 5.jpg

7)Score and conclusions

  • -3 for the iffy circles around the fuselage
  • -1 for missing roof detail
  • -2 for the wrong type of upper wing detailing
  • 94% is an outstandingly good score and much deserved, great model.

My recommendation is don’t bother with the Gemini – those cradle wings and the general lack of a good finish totally outweigh the quality Phoenix manage on their 787-9’s. And this is almost 10% cheaper. I cannot imagine how Gemini will make theirs any better than this.

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On top of that, that’s now 2 Phoenix models scoring up in the 90+% bracket in a row! Have Phoenix got their mojo back? I sincerely hope so, it’s been 18 months since we’ve had high quality models at this sort of score. Keep up the good work Phoenix!

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