What’s ahead in 1:400 for 2017?

With 5 new models arriving later today, it’s time to take a look, before we dive into Chinese New Year, and the huge gap in model deliveries that give’s us withdrawal symptoms, at what might grace our collections in the coming year.

With airline deliveries likely to remain high from past orders, especially in the A320/737 arena, you would think that a fair few new airline liveries on new types of aircraft would be likely. I’m not so sure I’d hold my breath on that one.

Let’s start at the top and work down.

A380

As of today, 26 January 2017, 102 A380’s remain on order. It’s unlikely Amadeo will ever take delivery of one of their 20, they’ve signed up nobody to lease them, Virgin Atlantic’s 6 is as good as dead, Air Accord has 3 on order, again as good as dead. 10 are listed as undisclosed – consider them as good as dead too. That leaves 3 for ANA due in 2018-19, 2 final aircraft for Etihad, 3 for Qatar, 5 for Singapore and 50 for Emirates, just 63 left to deliver. Emirates has deferred orders and production is going down to 1 per month.

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What can we expect? Other than Emirates special liveries, and maybe a last aircraft from Etihad or Qatar, nothing.

However, Malaysia airlines is about to re-brand it’s A380 arm into a separate entity that will basically be a charter service so that might mean we get something, but I’m expecting a white body. There’s also the first Singapore A380 coming off lease at the end of the year, and who knows where that might end up, but I doubt it will be in 2017.

There is one big re-brand that will get everyone going of course. 2016 was Cathay Pacific, 2017 will almost certainly be Qantas, expect at least one A380 in the new livery.

747-8i

Arik Air who cut their order from 5 to 4 then 2, should have taken delivery towards the end of 2017. EDIT: this order was cancelled on January 28th 2017, and replaced by 2 787-9’s. Korean Air has 3 more of it’s 10 to take and they will now be the last commercial 747-8i passenger aircraft delivered. Air Force One may be based on the F version, no decision has been made yet.

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747-8F

Better news. The first two 748F’s for UPS are already in primary assembly and will be delivered this year. That will be a hot model and no mistake, and Gemini will be the ones to make it.  There are no other new airlines taking delivery, with Nippon Cargo, Silk Way and Air Bridge being the only clients for orders for 5 aircraft between them, stretching way into 2019. Will anyone do the CargoLogicAir UK ABC versions?

777-X

Who wouldn’t be surprised to see someone jump the gun with one of these? Phoenix were well ahead with the A359, but they made mistakes, and it had to be corrected. The poor nose shapes and general inaccuracies on both the JCW/Gemini and the Phoenix A350’s was caused by them not waiting until the Airbus design was finalized. When it was it was different. Will the make the same mistake with the 777-X?

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777

Well if you ordered the Gemini United Airlines version due any day (and it will be reviewed here), stand by for disappointment. Not only has the name been added to the aircraft since delivery “New Spirit of United” , the registration has changed as well to N2331U.

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The second of United’s 777-300ER’s N2332U arrives at SFO 30 Dec 2016.
Can you blame Gemini? They wanted the model out to match its arrival, maybe, they should just have waited a month.

There are no new customers awaiting 777-300ER or 777F at present. With production cut back  only special liveries on new aircraft for existing customers, or on current aircraft are likely.

A350

The big news will of course be the introduction at the end of the year of the -1000. A new mould will be required. Will the two manufacturers correct the mistakes they both made on the -900?  The third test aircraft is already flying, and the first Qatar branded aircraft has already been pushed out of the factory. This is a very sizeable stretch, and it’s going to be quite a challenge. Will they be lazy and just stick a stretch in the existing mould without doing it justice? Will JCW have the stress-test type wings they so stupidly developed for the A333 model? Will somebody just try to get it right?

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A350-900

The Delta Airlines A359 Gemini have just produced is now nothing more than a fantasy model, as deliveries have been deferred a year. However plenty of other airlines will take delivery this year as production ramps up from last years 50. Air Mauritius, Air Caraibes, Asiana , Etihad, Hong Kong Airlines, Afriqiyah Airways should have, but the situation in Libya is so dubious I doubt it. Yemenia and Libyan are also two more unlikely contenders.

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A350-1000

Air Lease are due to take 10 -1000 for unidentifiable customers this year, Asiana 10, Etihad 22, Iran Air 16, and Qatar up to 35. Delta, American, BA have all put theirs back until 2018-19, and Virgin Atlantic’s 6 could actually be accelerated if order space allows for it, which it seems to following so many deferments, but it won’t be for 2017.

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The first Qatar A350-1000 before it goes to the paint shop

787

Another milestone will be the 787-10 – expect test models if they can decide to get their fingers out and develop the new mould. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the -10 and they may get it by year’s end (and that won’t be Gemini). There are no new customers taking delivery of 788/789 Dreamliners this year bar one – Qantas is set to get its first three 787-9’s. Conversely, Virgin Atlantic will get its last 2, unless they take up more options.

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The new livery will trigger a full fleet renewal of models by the manufacturers

A330

Sooner or later they’ll have to make a mould for the Neo. Both it and the Ceo versions are still attracting orders, with various airlines taking up options. American Airlines is looking at the Neo version to replace its 767’s scheduled to go out of service this year. Various low cost, full service airlines will take delivery of an aircraft that is slowly seeing sales decline. The Neo version, with TAP Portugal as launch customer is pushed back to March 2018, but will Phoenix make a test plane model to launch their new mould?

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A321/320/319

A321 deliveries are booming, A320 too, not so much on the A319.  You can expect little more than a lot of existing airlines getting new aircraft. Only Phoenix is likely to produce anything for the Indian market which is growing at a phenomenal rate.

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The big issue of course is the Neo. JCW/Gemini seem to be going there after a year of actual aircraft production. Phoenix seem more reluctant, despite the fact ANA and Air Asia X have taken delivery, never mind Lufthansa and others.

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It really is poor that neither set of manufacturers has invested much time or resource in getting these aircraft to us. Let’s pretend Aeroclassics didn’t do what they did and call it a Neo when it wasn’t. Kelley Ann Conway must have being in charge of the Alternative Facts they used to justify it.

737

At last we seem to be getting the Max. Odd how they can manage that faster than the Neo.

There are several new customers for the Max – not least of interest late in 2017 will be Monarch as they begin to phase out the A320 series. Like the A320 – there are so many customers, new and old it’s hard to know where to start.

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Indeed my general conclusion would say that this year is about the smaller aircraft types rather than the larger ones.

CS100/300

Swiss will get more – and it’s already generating modified designs on the real thing, with the water tank having to be relocated as its making the tail too heavy. So far only Herpa have made one – JCW has a mould but has ignored the entire thing.

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Korean Air is next to get the CS300, Swiss too is getting CS300’s. Delta is the main one getting CS100’s, the first of which should appear later this year. The problem is the bulk of orders now are for the larger version. So Herpa, JCW, you need to get cracking on a mould now please!  It’s not like there is no interest – the second, and fourth most read reviews on this blog last year, were for the two Herpa CS100 versions!

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The other manufacturers, Embraer, ATR, occasionally pop a new customer out, but few see the light of day in 1:400. Gemini’s E jet mould is rarely used, which is odd for an aircraft with such a diverse customer base. Austrian and Lufthansa versions, never mind a Flybe in the new livery would be most welcome.

So to conclude, it’s going to be a slightly odd year. 777-300ER’s are a dying breed now, most customers who are getting 787 Dreamliners have already had them. I expect more of the same more often from Gemini. A350 is one to see truly new customers on a new aircraft type. For the most part it’s going to be a small aircraft bonanza.  You can say goodbye to United’s last 744’s – no doubt Gemini will crack one out for that.  Of course the manufacturers will pump out every special livery that comes along, and we’ll see plenty. With 744’s vanishing faster than a puddle in the desert, the A380, 748, and 773ER all on the demise, the king of the moulds this year will be the A359. Such a shame that neither manufacturer could be bothered to get theirs right.

Whatever your preferences, expect some older models, expect some turgid repeats, expect Qantas, but most of all, hope for something genuinely different from someone eventually!

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