Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-467FER JC Wings XX4309 2016

It’s taken me a while to get a model with the Cathay Pacific new livery. Mostly because I don’t like it very much. I find it a bit insipid. It reminds me of old people who live in a house painted in magnolia and beige and dress in a similar fashion. It’s the wooly cardigan of liveries, invisible, unremarkable, paralysingly conservative.

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The entire concept was based on the notion of “freeing the bird”. The bird of course is the tail livery. In the old scheme it was ‘boxed’ by being between a green limited tail field. By freeing the bird, it shows the company is open to greater expansion both physically and mentally, in its approach to business. Capable of flying anywhere and doing anything it wants to put its mind to.

Marketing can be such bollocks sometimes.

Realities were they needed to rebrand Cathay Dragon and bring its corporate branding closer to Cathay Pacific, as few realised that the two were even much linked. Inter-lining transfer passengers is now a priority, and both airlines systems were to be made far more integrated to mop up more customers too often lost to competitors. This is more about having a unified cross-airline look with differences. Cathay Dragon’s livery has the red tail and I think actually looks the better of the two! You can see the A333 review HERE.

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B-LIA in the old livery

There was also a cost issue of course. The more complex the livery, the darker the paint, it all gets more expensive to repaint every few years. Ditching the two-tone green fuselage, the dark green nose element, red lines, and moving the wording above it onto the white is all cheaper. I do actually prefer the wording being on the white now, that seems like a sensible choice and the font is much larger and uniform in size. The old logo had larger first letters.

The fuselage paint  is also only halfway up the body now, whereas it always used to run level with the rear horizontal stabilizer.

B-LIA was delivered as a freighter from new on 23rd May 2008 and technically still has a good 15 years of service in her, parts and spares not withstanding. Powered by 4 P&W 4062A’s, she plies the world from Milan to Miami, and even as I write is about an hour away from LAX.

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1.Fuselage

This is the standard JC Wings 744F mould they use for themselves and Gemini. It does have modern embellishments of course, including three upper aerials and one below almost level with the side cargo door.

There is also a satcoms dome. It’s a very small one but it is an add-on, and not a standard mould fit. From a distance it’s fairly passable but I wouldn’t call it perfect. Close examination reveals it’s a bit ropy in places but not so much that from a routine viewing from a couple of feet away, you’d notice.

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The general paint finish is very good, none of the bleed or over-run we’ve seen on even relatively new models from Phoenix and Gemini.

2.Wings and landing gear

Obviously it’s a cradle mould, and like all the JCW 744’s of late it’s a quality fit overall. It isn’t quite as tight along the upper edge as I’ve seen but it’s not a problem.

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JCW have managed to do a great job with the wing paint on both surfaces. neat, accurate, not so thick it expunges detail, not over glossy. rather good I’d say.

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The landing gear is a little different – no spring loaded centre set and they’re a bit rigid, though for once all the wheels rotate.

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The one odd thing that seems to be a continuously poor trade mark of JC Wings – I’ve come across it repeatedly on cradle systems; they paint the underbody colour of the fuselage a different shade of paint on the wing underbody section, and it looks a bit odd. On this the beige underbody of the fuselage is nearer a pale grey on the wing section.

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3.Engines

The four P&W’s are beautifully done, no rotten rim paint, an acceptable silver, and the fan paint, while bright, isn’t offensive. An excellent job all round.

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4.Nose detail

Exemplary. Neat, tidy, well detailed. Perfectly done.

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5. Tail detail

Perfectly printed, lots of detail and the entire area is well assembled. Zero complaints.

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6.Colours

Remarkably good. I may not be over keen on them but they are accurate.

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7.Score and conclusion

  • -2 for the dome
  • -2 for the not perfect fit of the cradle
  • 96% is a superb score.

You probably wonder, “why does he buy them if he’s not really happy about the livery?”

It’s a pertinent question. In the end it’s just inevitable that the liveries will change and I do have a ‘thing’ about keeping RLSI reasonably up to date as a current airport.

Cathay Pacific is one of my favourite airlines, so anything that diminishes it annoys me. I don’t much admire conservative mediocrity, and this livery is just that. However it is what it is and they had a good reason to change it, though frankly I don’t agree it was the right reason.

It’s an airline in a state of flux at the moment. With staff and pilot contract challenges, severe competition is affecting it, as Western and Australasian airlines that used to route through Hong Kong no longer do.  China as a market is posing challenges, and longer range modern aircraft are changing the assumptions  of how people get from A to B; often more directly than they used to, never mind the threats from the ME3. Add to that a souring relationship with Oneworld and Qantas, Cathay has some serious re-evaluation to undertake. And the Cargo market is even more fraught.

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