British Airways 777-336ER G-STBL Phoenix 11152 2014

First….just some quick news.

There is a marked lack of new models either second-hand or new at present, and we’re about to enter into the ‘dead zone’ post-Chinese New Year. What with that, and pressure to finish my fourth book, for the next few weeks there will be no Monday publication. Wednesday and Friday will still happen though!  Monday’s will return, but probably not until the second quarter of the year.

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Back in 2010 BA took delivery of the first of 12 773ER’s, G-STBA. That was just before the company introduced the TFTS Shield, To Fly To Serve on to its aircraft just behind the BA logo. This may seem slightly amusing at present, in the midst of yet more industrial action, as staff unsurprisingly fight for a living wage. The so-called Mixed Fleet Cabin crew are paid no more than the minimum wage and find it almost impossible – because they never get full-time hours, to make ends meet on a salary that even with flight pay barely scrapes £14K ($17kUS) a year.  That BA find this acceptable, and at the same time wonder why moral, and service levels have plummeted, and that staff churn rates have reached plague proportions, is hard to understand.

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G-STBL leaving Sydney Kingsford Smith International. BA is the only European airline still flying to Australia.

To put it in context, Virgin Atlantic have just agreed an 18% flight pay increase, and a three-year deal that will see basic pay rise more than inflation for its cabin crew. You can’t say it’s your people who make the difference then pay them dog biscuits.

So while BA likes to make a big thing about service, standards, quality and Britishness and from 2013 started applying the TFTS crest to its aircraft, the first 6 of the 773ER’s didn’t have them – and still don’t as they are only added on a re-spray or major service.

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This model, G-STBL was the last of the 12 and along with five others is leased, where six are owned outright. IAG’s Willy Walsh has often lamented the fact BA didn’t order more  sooner, but that’s history now.

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Fitted with F14C56W44Y183, the aircraft replaced the 744’s on several key routes. Indeed BA 773ER’s are the only aircraft from any European airline that still fly to Australia. 

1.Fusleage

While the mould is fine the paint is not a success. The blue-white transition is terrible in places, around the nose and behind the wings especially. The print and technical detail is excellent however.

All the aerials are in place, though this is in the days when the holes appeared to be too big for them.The under-belly waste heater is correctly red.

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For the most part it’s actually quite good, but the paint just lets it down, and it’s easily spotted. The TFTS shield also looks a bit weak.

2.Wings and landing gear

The wings are excellently fitted, even if over-glossed. They’re pretty faultless. the escape arrows and walkway are in perfect alignment with the doors too.

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Underneath is so over painted you would never know there was detail buried under it.

 

The landing gear is not attractive. The ropey doors that Phoenix still insist on using two years on, despite the fact they are well aware of their failings, look poor, and are little more than battered, painted zinc. There is glue on the tyres.

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Excess glue has allowed dust to stick in places that look pretty gross and the doors are poor, beaten flaps of zinc

3.Engines

Rim paint finish is verging on the dubious and is a little thin in places. Fan colour is actually quite good, but here we are over two years later and Phoenix are still making the same paint mistakes on the exhaust cones. They look sloppy.

 

The GE logo is unintelligible. You’d have no idea what it was if you didn’t know already.

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4.Nose detail

While the technical detail is fine it’s spoilt by what amounts to really poor blue-white transition paint. And of course the over-thick silver window frame-work. What is that all about?

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The blue paint line is awful
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Blue paint nose dive is just wrong

5.Tail

Actually quite good. I do have one concern but that comes under 6.

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Gemini’s G-STBA at rear, Phoenix G-STBL front

6.Colours

The blue is fine, the white is bright, and clean, as we’d expect. It’s the red that doesn’t quite work for me. It seems too dark and too dense. What I mean by that is BA makes up the tail red with a series of printed dots, which change density to give the impression of a fluttering Union Jack. Phoenix have made it too solid, and it looses the real feel of the design. It’s not fatal, or terrible, just not quite right.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -4 for the gear doors
  • -4 for the engine rims/paint
  • -15 for the shoddy blue-white paint
  • 77% is just below minimum average

It’s OK as models go, just not spectacular. I bought it second-hand as the Phoenix A380 had been rather good. Either way it’s better in some areas that Gemini’s earlier crest free version of  G-STBA.

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My recommendation: A very cautious buy. Check it out first, the wobbly paint will vary depending on the individual model. 

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