Again, here we are, with another one of those airlines, noticeable for its absence in the collection, now with 2 in less than a month.
You can find out about Air Austral, its background and the review for the recent 777-300ER F-OREU Phoenix produced in May 2016 on the link.
The 788 is the first of a pair that are aimed at bringing visitors from longer distances not directly connected with the French mainland. Places such as Sydney and London are on the cards. In the first instance she’s been used on short flights to Mayotte in the Comoros (and a likely destination for long haul development), and once a week to Paris, as crews prepare for operations.
In common with the 773’s she has a unique image – actually two unique images, one each on either side of the tail. The Starboard side shows a meandering waterway through part of a coral lagoon, and the other a stylized land and water image, again emphasizing the blue water tropical paradise the island is. The aircraft also carries the Mayotte tourism logo on each side above the Réunion, French and EU flags.
Theres’s a little more to this aircraft in terms of production. She was line number 22 – one of the early aircraft that were, to be polite, grossly overweight by the time production was finished. She was so overweight, ANA refused to take delivery and she sat about for some years until Boeing worked on the fatties to get the weight down and closer to spec, then they had to find a buyer. Well finally one came along – Transaero. We all know what happened there. Management got on the wrong side of the Putin Administration in Russia and it was manoeuvred into an unnecessary bankruptcy. 4 A380’s, 4 748i’s and 4 788’s from the fat list found they had no homes.
Having been registered in August 2015 in preparation for transfer to Transaero who were to lease them from VTB, Air Austral expressed an interest in the aircraft – they were virtually being given away by now, or its unlikely they could have afforded them, but the deal for the 773’s was sweetened with the 788’s. Everyone wins.
Powered by 2 RR Trent-1000’s and fitted with 18 Club Austral business class and 244 Loisir economy class, she was finally ferried to CDG then on to Réunion on May 25th this year (2016).
The Phoenix 788/9 is so vastly superior to the JCWings made version that they and Gemini sell, it’s frankly staggering. Even when the Gemini/JCW wing cradle isn’t bent or skewed it still isn’t a patch on the Phoenix.
This one is superbly done, excellent print quality and graphics, neat and effective aerials top and bottom (three up top, something JCW/Gemini never have managed), and well, it’s just faultless. I really cannot see any issues with it.
2)Wings and landing gear
Standard Phoenix Dreamliner wings and markings, with the addition of the registration on the upper starboard wing. The wings look almost seamlessly inserted into the fuselage.
The landing gear is rigid, but the wheels all turn, the doors are excellent and the tyres are clean and lump free.
Nose gear is first class and well fixed in.
The nacelles are perfect, as are the superb exhaust cones. The rims are good to very good. The paint type and quality is excellent, as is the colour of both rims and fans. The only issues are a slight roughness on the edge of the both engine rims, and what appears to be a slight cut in the paint on No.1 – it is very small, but it’s on the top edge and visible with the naked eye.
4) Nose detail
Excellent, no issues at all, beautifully done.
5) Tail detail
Far better than on the 777 model. A crisper image on both sides all round, but the port side is too dark.
Faultless. Did the colour expert from JCW/Gemini go to Phoenix and they swapped jobs? Phoenix have been having a superb run of accurate colours all round lately, while JCW/Gemini have been sliding down hill. The 777’s and the 787 do have different colour “Air Austral” tiles, it’s not a colour fail.
7) Score and conclusion
- -3 for engine rim paint transgressions
- -2 too dark an image on port side vertical
- 95% score is another superb effort from Phoenix, they seem to be having a run right now. Can they keep these standards up that’s the big question? Gemini/JCW seem to be keeping theirs down, but these things are cyclical. Mind you Gemini’s rise seems to have been stopped in its tracks this year by JCW’s botching up of its A330’s and those not exactly brilliant A320 models, best described as clumsy.
When Phoenix do good, they do really, really good. This batch of models is first rate, but it’s all about keeping them that way. Each month, every month, no exceptions, ever.
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