Panda Models were the first to properly produce a recognisable A320neo around the third quarter of 2016. With very limited production runs they’re not easy to get, and this one came from an eBay seller in Central China recommended by Richard Stretton, and it arrived here remarkably quickly.
I like a bit of technical information on these new aircraft just to understand why they matter, so indulge me while I run through what makes the Neo (new engine option) that much better than the so called Ceo, (current engine option).
Orders for the Neo are substantial, though only 55 A319neo’s have been ordered, none have been delivered. There are 3,624 A320neo’s on order as of now, 6 March 2017, and 1,384 A321neo’s, which has just passed its FAA/EASA certification.
The first stage of the Neo process was the introduction of sharklets in 2011-12. They weigh an astonishing 200Kg – almost 441lb’s, so it comes as a surprise to those unfamiliar, that by changing air flow it reduces fuel burn by 3.5%, despite the weight increase. It also reduces CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, proven to contribute to global warming, by 700 tonnes per aircraft per year.
Much of the weight savings, and fuel efficiency gains elsewhere on the aircraft, come from ‘Space-Flex’, new light-weight cabin interiors, and a modular approach that gives customers (especially airlines like Lufthansa Group, and IAG who can move aircraft between their constituent airlines with little fuss), huge flexibility in layout for different missions.
Another first is the adoption of ‘Cabin-Flex’- this allows customers to choose the door layout, and placement within certain parameters, especially on the A321neo/LR. This alone allows the seating of up to 20 more passengers. The new seating options are also a major advance – Lufthansa uses them across the entire fleet now, and they’re a revelation of space and comfort compared to the old seats, despite more people being on board. They’re a personal favorite on my many trips back and forth to Frankfurt. Some people do complain that the rear most seats are unpleasant – and window free. Answer: don’t sit there, and spend £8 on reserving your seat in advance!
While there have been many software advances, and very minor external aerodynamic changes, mostly to do with intake air to the cabin, which is now seperate from the engines, there is little visible difference at 1:400 scale. That is almost universally restricted to the new engines.
The two engine systems on offer are the highly advanced Pratt & Witney PW1127G which has a complex geared turbine system, but once ironed out of its many initial problems should produce a 16% fuel saving. That’s an enormous gain. The CFM International LEAP-1A also produces a similar saving. Both have almost identical power outputs.
There are small differences in the fan size – the P&W is an amazing 206cm, the LEAP 1A is just 8cm smaller. Not something that will notice much on 1:400 scale!
There is, from a 1:400 prerspective virtually no difference when it comes to the exhaust cones. Besides which they are so small it’s never going to notice, and even the colouring of the exhaust metal is near identical.
D-AIND is based at Munich, and officially an A320-271N, the fourth one delivered to Lufthansa, of 5 currently operating. They’re fitted with a CY180 layout.
Basically no change to the standard fuselage. The detail however is excellent, both technicaly and graphicaly. The only thing that is possibly disappointing by its omission, (though the counterpoint to this is that the graphics are temporary, so the longevity of the model is high in terms of accuracy), the ‘First to fly’ graphics aren’t present. I should point out they were not factory delivered wearing them.
There are no aerials. Personally I really don’t care, the vast majority of my collection of A320’s – now nearly 100 of them, don’t have them, and frankly as manufacturers rarely scale them properly to the size of the aircraft, they can look pretty gruesome at times. Larger aircraft, I’m fine with.
Overall the fuselage is superb.
2.Wings and landing gear
Superb, not over painted, nice high quality detail, excellent sharklets with tiny Lufthansa crane logos printed on the insides and outsides. Really rather excellent.
The landing gear is much improved over the LoongAir version. The outer main gear wheels are actually a tyre on a wheel, on an axle, that goes through to a much larger tyre without a wheel. For some reason they’ve use completely different wheel types.
The nose gear is very good, but the tyres, while fitted to a wheel on both sides, are much too thin and look too small, even at this scale.
The overall quality of the hydraulic elements, and the gear doors is excellent.
There is no question in my mind these are the very best small engines on any model of this size, I have ever seen.
The attention to fine detail, superb intake rim paint, simply amazing fan detail and colour, accurate technical detail on the nacelles, and immaculately detailed, and painted exhausts, all fitted to superbly detailed pylons. A masterpiece. If they can do this at this scale, with such accuracy, what else might they achieve in the future?
Superb, lots of small technical detail has been incorporated, remarkable for this size of model.
Cockpit windows are a believable and lifelike colour, even the tiny StarAlliance logo is exquisite.
Spot on for detail, clarity, colour and overall fit and finish. Outstanding.
Phoenix and JCW/Gemini have failed miserably at times with the Lufthansa grey. This is the ultimate exception. It’s superbly accurate, so much so that there is nothing else that comes close in terms of exactness. The Blue of the tail is equally accurate.
A superb effort, fantastic.
7.Score and conclusions
There are no faults in manufacturing or paint/detail quality. Why the graphics aren’t there I don’t know, but that in itself isn’t a fault if that’s what was intended.
- -2 for the very thin nose gear tyres, they don’t look like they’ll last a long time
- 98% is an excellent score
Panda have excelled themselves. We can only hope they produce more over time to a similar standard.
As a general observation there is one thing that needs amending – the stand hole is way to wide and far to shallow. Getting the model to stay safely on a stand is a nail-biting experience.
It’s refreshing to have something new, from someone new. Long may it continue. It really is making me wonder what on Earth JCW/Gemini and Phoenix have been up to. Why has the inability to produce a new engine type been so difficult for them? 17 airlines are now flying Neo’s and 82 have been delivered at today’s date 6 March 2017.
My recommendation: Finally a quality A320 model – and a Neo to boot. It was cheaper than a Gemini A320 including shipping it from central China! If you can get one of these, don’t hesitate, it knocks the spots off of Gemini/JCW and Phoenix, and Aeroclassics could never get the colours right.