LATAM 787-9 CC-BGK Phoenix 11273 Sept 2016


With the acute failure of the LATAM A350-900 model Phoenix produced – engines dragging on the ground, atrocious landing gear and so on, I wish I had just gone for the 787-9 in the first place. Phoenix for what ever reason, rarely mess up badly on Dreamliners.  Having returned the A350 my supplier had run out of the Dreamliner so I had to hunt around on eBay for a secondary (and it has to be said, much cheaper) source.

I’d wanted the A350-900 to replace the TAM branded 773ER, but there we go. TAM Brasil and LAN Chile have a rather odd arrangement. They trade under one brand name now – LATAM, but operate two airlines under the same umbrella, LATAM Airlines Group Chile SA and LATAM Linhas Aéreas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. There are also non-aircraft owning subsidiaries in Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador. Both LAN and TAM still operate their respective ICAO call signs


The two airlines seem to be pulling from their own order books for use on their own routes, and there’s been zero transfer of routes or aircraft types. It appears to be operating more as a large-scale join venture operation than a real merger. However that may be enough, at least to start with. It sometimes seems odd that Brazil has a border with 11 of 13 countries in South America – except Chile and Ecuador. The Chilean market is very different to Brazil’s and I’m not convinced this will work in the long-term. The good thing is that they tend not step on each others toes on many routes, so at least they’re complimentary rather than competitive.

The following video is pretty good, short sharp and shows all the details, but with no explanation as to the livery’s real meaning! A point that seems to come up repeatedly with professionals and enthusiasts. What reasoning there is seems a bit, well, vague. They also do a TAM one even though TAM don’t have 787’s!

LATAM Chile has already taken delivery of 10 787-8’s and 12 787-9’s, but this was the first 789 in the new livery, with four more due to be delivered.

Equipped with 30 business class and 283 economy, all of the extra space has been allocated to economy seating – 66 more than on the 788. Balance that against the same aircraft type on British Airways – they used the entire additional space to reduce their economy by 24 to 127, and added 11 premium economy, 7 business class and 8 First class; shows you how radically different airline priorities can be.

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Delivered on 12th May 2016, and powered by Rolls Royce Trent 1000’s, she flies a wide range of routes;  Easter Island, Miami, JFK, Lima, Cancun and Buenos Aires, as well as long-range flights to Madrid and Frankfurt.


The Phoenix 787-9 mould is outstandingly good, and always has been. It has the edge over the JCW/Gemini version because of the slot in wings, which work so much better on what I think is one of the worlds greatest commercial aircraft. The 787 family to me, will be the modern version of the 747, ubiquitous, and beautiful. I like the A350, inside it definitely has the edge over the Dreamliner, but outside, it isn’t anywhere near it aesthetically.

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The LATAM livery is painfully simple. Frankly I was a bit disappointed with it. They spent months dithering over what it should look like and this is all they managed? Frankly LAN Chile’s old livery was vastly superior. I was never keen on TAM’s.

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Repainting your average 787-9 into the new livery takes 6 full working days. The paint is a bit more sophisticated than it looks, requiring three specialist layers of clearcoat, designed to deal with the extreme heat of the tropics and sub-tropics. What seems to upset most people about it is that the blue (that looks deep purple) outweighs what is officially called “coral pink”,  that everyone thinks is red. There is no real understanding about what it all means, but apparently the odd graphic on the front is “a torch leading you forward”. If you say so LATAM!

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In any event it’s all really rather well done on the model. It’s white mostly, and the detail is excellent. All the aerials are in place and well seated, the small dome on the roof neat and tidy. The torch logo is under the body between doors 1 & 2, as it should be.

2.Wings and landing gear

Very glossy white wings with excellent silver leading edges. All beautifully fitted into the fuselage. The under-wing as usual with this mould is almost completely devoid of detail.

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Landing gear is light grey! At last no silver rubbish paint. It all looks almost unbelievably neat, and in comparison to the utter crap doors on the A350, these are faultless. All the wheels roll too, though the bogies don’t tilt. Nose gear is excellent. Tyres are a little rough.

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3. Engines

Superb rims and fans, fail free and a splendidly acceptable colour. The best. The Rolls Royce logos are correctly shown and tidy, the engines fit their pylons perfectly, exhaust cones and serrations are excellent both in mould and in colour accuracy. Even the red markings under the engines have been dutifully, and expertly applied. First Class all round.

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4.Nose detail

Perfect. The cockpit windows are excellent, nose cone detail fine but accurate, everything is where it should be, right the way down to the tiny Oneworld logo. All the sensors and other markings are spot on.

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5.Tail detail

The blue and allegedly coral pink are well done. Phoenix have made them work as well as anyone could expect. The odd pale grey base they sit on is also first-rate, with the colour extending to the under part of the tail perfectly. One tiny flaw is that the starboard stabilizer doesn’t appear to be pushed as far forward as it should be, but that in the general scheme of things, really is minor.

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Faultless. An excellent job.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -1 for the not quite fitted right starboard stabilizer
  • -1 for rough tyres
  • 98%.  Now I congratulate Phoenix on a job well done, almost perfect.

But where is the consistency? The A350, same month, same livery, utter shit model. The Skymark A330, pretty good, the Lufthansa A346, awful, just a bag of crap. The Vueling A320 ehmm…sort of OK if you don’t mind its festering sore-like engine exhausts. Come on Phoenix, don’t just sin there in Hong Kong thinking all your models are amazing, they’re not. This one is great, but the rest? QUALITY CONTROL!!!! Get into that factory and sort it out!

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