LATAM A350-941 PR-XTD New Livery Phoenix 11301 September 2016

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The Brazilian half of LATAM, TAM had their first three A359’s delivered in May this year, and all of them were in the old red TAM livery. This, the fourth of eight ordered, is in the new livery of the combined LAN Chile and TAM Brasil airline, we now know as LATAM.

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Delivered only on the 26th August, she’s being used on flights to key destinations now that the internal trial and familiarisation flights are over, including Miami, & Milan (Italy).

Fitted with 30 business class and 318 economy (TAM dropped its first class offering late in 2015), these are seen as the flagships of the combined airline.

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It isn’t the most exciting livery in the world it has to be said, but it’s fresh, and a little different.

So how have Phoenix fared – they produced a huge list of 1:400’s this month and we all know that high volumes usually mean quality suffers. Not only that but the last A350 and  777 I had were suffering from pretty poor landing gear door issues. Last years zinc-rotten doors have come back. Are they still a problem? If they are, why are Phoenix doing nothing about it? Lets find out…

1.Fuselage

There is no doubt that the Phoenix A359 mould is superior to the JCW/Gemini, you can’t read the comparison test on the Vietnam Airlines A359’s to not see it. Yet, as I’ve said, while it’s most like the A350, it’s also not right, especially at the nose.

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These things are not going to change in a hurry, the moulds cost far too much. What Phoenix have done with great success is get the print and finish quality, all of the small detail, to a very high standard, and when the body is basically white, that’s really sort of essential. The LATAM logo is excellent, good colour and print quality, on both sides.

Three roof aerials and two under-body ones are all well seated, well painted. The under-body logo in front of the forward aerial is also beautifully done.

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The fuselage part of the wing line is also superior to that on the Gemini/JCW version, being far more pronounced.

2.Wings and landing gear

The wings are a tour de force of excellence. The moulds are beautiful, superbly detailed and without question that crucial element, the curvaceous sharklets, are infinitely superior to the competition who don’t even come close. I’ve had the privilege of seeing these up close for real, and Phoenix have done a brilliant job of them. That isn’t opinion, it’s visible, verifiable fact.

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The wing leading edges and paint quality are first rate, overall, they’re exemplary.

So, it will give me no pleasure to castigate Phoenix for the utterly crappy landing gear doors. Firstly, the landing gear is too close to the fuselage – that’s a general fault on this mould. The quality of the metal the doors are made off is exceptionally poor, and Phoenix frankly disgust me with their inability to resolve this issue. What do they do all day? Sit about thinking of quality issues they could not improve on?

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Just look at this utterly awful piece of garbage. Look at that tyre, the rotting metal, a total disgrace.

Old saying; “Don’t spoil the ship for a halfpenny of tar”. That’s exactly what Phoenix seem determined to do. A couple of cents is all it would take to fix this on a per-model basis but lets not! Let’s see what we can continue to get away with!

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Doesn’t even sit on the ground properly, door is bent and rotting under the paint. Utter crap.

The silver on the gear is much better, they seem to have avoided the Toys’R’Us kiddie paint. However the tyres are another flop, every single one is lumpy and uneven.

3.Engines

Utterly superb. The mould is first-rate, the see through high bypass fans a treat to see every single time. Rim and fan paint quality is outstanding, the same goes for the exhausts.

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Are imbeciles  assembling at Phoenix these days? That engine is more likely to cut your grass than take off. What were they thinking?

The problem is the engines are far too close to the ground because they’ve not been fitted properly. Even fully laden they don’t get that close to the ground, very poor.

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From the front, the engines by themselves are fine, it’s the poor assembly that’s ruined them.

4.Nose detail

Totally superb. Aerials/sensors all where they should be, and beautifully detailed. Cockpit windows are also excellent.

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5.Tail

The vertical stabilizer colours and finish are excellent. Where the tail wraps underneath, there is a well represented continuation of the grey from the stabilizers.

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6.Colours

Exemplary. A superb job all round.

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7.Score and conclusions

The landing gear is totally unacceptable. No more excuses Phoenix, get it fixed!! It has without question ruined an otherwise superb model. All the time the landing gear appears like this, it will be automatically deducted as 6 points per side. That’s sufficient to ensure that not one of these models so fitted, can possibly qualify for 2016 Model of The Year.

  • -12 for the landing gear, it’s not good enough, period.
  • -6 for the engine engines not being fitted properly.
  • 82% is the score. It should have been well in the 90’s. These A350’s should be winning hands down.
  • Either way, this is going back it isn’t good enough and I won’t be getting a replacement. It’s not a model I want in my collection looking like this.

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