Thirty years of the Airbus A320 series seems to have gone by without much notice. Incremental developments have been the name of the game, Airbus following a pattern established by Boeing with the 737 series. Both still retain their recognisable familiarity, yet they are technologically light years further ahead than when they came into existence, even if the basic framework is little different under the skin.
Materials, seating, unquestionably technology, has radically changed in the three decades that have since elapsed. The A321 seemed like an odd ball at the time it was introduced. Orders were relatively minimal, though nowhere near as the sparse as they were for the A318. And yet right now, it’s time seems to have finally arrived – almost 1,600 back orders exist for the A321 Neo and A321 Neo LR. Boeing is possibly to blame, ignoring the large single aisle market for over 12 years since the demise of the 757. Not even the proposed 737 MAX-10 will really pose a challenge, and anything else – if there ever is anything else, is at least 10 years away from entering service.
So, today we look at a typical current version of the A321. Friday we’ll look at new manufacturer Panda models version of the A320 Ceo, and Tuesday next week we’ll look at their version of the A320 Neo, the first to really make an attempt to model this important new version.
HB-ION entered service with Swiss in May 2013, flying a CY200 arrangement and powered by CFMI CFM56-5B1/3’s. She was converted to carry a CY219 configuration with the introduction across the Lufthansa Group of the new ergonomic lightweight seating (which I have to say I’m a big fan of, they’re very comfortable, and there’s plenty of space even for me at 6ft tall).
Generally speaking the Phoenix A321 mould is pretty good, the nose especially fits well with any silhouette comparison.
This version, which has also been used at times by Gemini (on an AA A321 at least), has three up top aerials and one below.
Technical print and detail is excellent, doors, windows, etc, are all exactly as you would want and finely printed.
2.Wings and landing gear
The wings are push in affairs, and look so much better for it. Nicely detailed, not overly drowned in paint, but they do look a little old-fashioned with the central grey area This aircraft does have it, but Swiss a re a little inconsistent with it, some do, some don’t. Why? I have no idea.
The landing gear is fine, everything rotates and the hydraulics seem robust and well painted.
The paint and detail are excellent, what doesn’t work so well is a very small mould distortion at the front of No.1 Engine which looks a tad more oval than round and doesn’t quite match No.2. However it’s fair to say that’s being slightly picky and you’d have to really give it a close once-over to even notice.
The good bit is the fan and rim colours are excellent. Titanium fans!
Printed technical detail on the nacelles is excellent.
Commensurate with the rest of the aircraft, even the nose detail is first-rate. the aircraft name, Lugano, can easily be read under the Star Alliance logo next to door No.1.
Not brilliantly put together, especially on the port side and vertical. They’re not terrible by any means, just look like they could have been pushed in a bit more, fitted more seamlessly.
White with a little red here and there, not a lot could go wrong. Unless you’re Gemini making the Lufthansa A359 in a custard cream-white.
7.Score and conclusions
- -2 for the tail fit
- -1 for the mild mould issue with N0.1 engine
- 97% isn’t bad at all.
It’s a competent enough model, in a simple enough livery and perfectly represents the typical European Airbus A321, used on high volume, medium frequency routes like Moscow, Barcelona, Geneva, Berlin (all from Zürich) – and yes the Swiss do manage to fill 219 people on a 27 minute internal flight!
My recommendation: a definite buy if you can find one