PIA 777-2Q8ER AP-BMG Retro Livery JC Wings XX4308 2016

PIA-Pakistan-International-Airlines.pngThis one caught my attention early this year when it featured for a couple of minutes in a Heathrow documentary – one of the passengers was late, and missed the flight, he couldn’t get why it wouldn’t wait an hour for him while he had dinner.  Several others came close to missing the flight, and were in receipt of some polite by very barbed comments from the PIA gate staff.  Two days later it flew into BHX and I saw it in the metal. Found one on eBay for £26.

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AP-BMG was sprayed into this livery for the airlines 60th anniversary in November 2015. It’s wonderfully retro, very 1950’s, in that beautiful dark green, white and grey. The addition of a black radome, and detail below the cockpit windows, just works really well.

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The logo appears only next to door 1 on the port side where passengers enter.

PIA is often mired in internal controversy, corruption being rife at various times. PIA is also rated as one of the least safe airlines to fly on. Based on ‘near misses’ because fatalities are final, but near misses show a continuous trait, between 2000 and 2014 Pakistan and Ethiopian were rated the worlds worst.

PIA runs a fleet of 11 777’s, 8 of which are 200’s. She was only delivered to the airline in March 2015, having previously been VN-A149 of Vietnam Airlines, originally delivered in May 2005, 1 of a pair leased from AeroCapital, that both moved to PIA at the end of their 10 years leases.

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They’re fitted with 35 business class semi-lie-flat seats, 54 ‘Economy Plus’ with marginal leg room increase, and 240 economy. How you book eco plus is a mystery as with so many airlines, it never shows as an option on the website, but often is a post-booking upgrade.

1.Fuselage

This is a now very elderly mould, but I would almost say it’s been refurbished. It’s not an unusual thing to do, large and small scale industries do it all the time. It’s a lot cheaper than re-doing it from scratch, maybe adding 25% to its lifespan.

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The print is outstanding, really special. There is a tiny mark in the dark green coach line in the model, almost imperceptible towards the nose, but I referenced the photo at the top, and the exact same thing is on the real aircraft. The level of detail, and the scale of the detail is beautiful. I say this because one of the things on the Air China 789 reviewed on Monday, was the over-large detail on the doors. On the real thing it was almost invisible.

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The detail on these doors however, is something else; not only legible, clear and present, but the correct scale. The 60th anniversary livery is so small you’d barely know it was there, just to the right of the port side door 1, so that passengers can see it on entry. It doesn’t appear on the starboard side.

The small roof dome appears to be an add-on, but it’s amazingly fixed and fault free. The only slight down side is the third and rearmost aerial; the hole is too big for the aerial. Part of me would wish they hadn’t bothered with it.

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Even the small 777 lettering in red below the centre line behind door 1, and above on door 4, are all present and correct.

Rarely do I say this, but it’s a magnificent print job, truly first rate across the board.

2.Wings and landing gear

Cradle system of course, but once again, the whole assembly has been properly and expertly assembled, it’s such a tight fit that you can’t actually get a hair in the gap at the back. The upper seal to the fuselage, so often a gaping see-through air space, is actually invisible.

1400Reviews-PIA-772ER-AP-BGM-JCW-CpywrtJonChamps2016 11.jpgWing leading edges are a superb quality silver finish that looks like real metal, the upper surfaces are a little glossy, which could be toned down a bit, but you can still see the detail. Underneath is actually even better, with the metallic centre panels, and lots of visible detail. The aircraft registration is clearly visible in a separate, coloured grey panel, just as it is on the real aircraft.

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An awesome set of wings for a cradle mould!

In order to resolve issues with the landing gear, they seem to be using some kind of clear varnish or lacquer of late. I notice the tyres are shiny and the closures at the back of the bogies tightly closed.  The downside is that while the bogies do just about move, the lacquer seems to stop the wheels from rotating. Is this a price worth paying? Who actually rolls their aircraft models about on their diorama? (Looks in the air and whistles as though it never happened)…

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This is an observation, not a complaint. If it solves half a dozen minor problems for the manufacturer and creates 1 minor one, it’s worth it. Only one tyre had a tiny bit of flashing on it. This is something to keep an eye on, as the quality of JCW tyres has shot up lately on these new production models, lets not slip backwards!

Some of you object to the height of the nose gear on JCW 777’s. I do see your point, but having measured it, we’re only talking about half a millimeter, though it is enough to give it a slightly too-tall appearance. I wondered why. Could they have based it on images of a flying aircraft? The gear hasn’t contracted, and looks about as long as it is on the model, on the ground of course, under pressure of weight, it looks shorter.

3. Engines

The pair of GE90-94B’s are very well done. The rims are perfect, the fans and rims, again the same colour, but not so offensively toy-like in their silver as to be a detriment. Paint quality is excellent but the colour of the exhausts is far too light. In real life they’re almost brown with carbon deposits, and the band one step back from the cone is black, not silver. Even clean and new they were never this colour.

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4.Nose

Beautifully done and well finished. No wobbly lines or out of place detail, excellent.

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5.Tail

First class, problem free, excellent all round.

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6.Colours

Full pass. Excellent.

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7. Score and Conclusions

  • -2 for the unrealistic engine exhaust colour
  • -1 for the slightly too high nose gear, I just don’t think it’s that big a deal
  • 97% is an amazing score for an old 777-200 mould.

JC Wings have apparently set up a new quality controlled production line. If so, then the benefits are starting to make themselves noticed. This is a quantum jump in quality levels. Is it sustainable with the demands of Christmas volumes?  I not only love the model and the livery, I love the quality. I bought it on eBay for £26, so to say I’m pleased with it would be an understatement of huge proportions.

Now JC Wings, all you have to do to make the world right, is sort out that bag of bolts A320 mould, and face the fact that the ‘new’ A330/340 mould wings are a disaster, and need fixing if you expect to be taken seriously.

So congratulations on a really nice model. Keeping up these standards is something else though, right across the range, on every model, every time.

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