Saudia A330-343 HZ-AQE “National Day” Livery Phoenix 11347 1:400 March 2017

Saudi-Arabian-Airlines

This struck me as a very different livery for Saudia to adopt, applied to the aircraft in September 2016 to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s National Day on the 23rd of that month. This is a big day in Saudi Arabia, and every big corporate gets involved, from Google to Saudi Telecom. Big shopping and ticket discounts abound and it’s treated much as 4th July is in the US. And everything is turned green, the national colour.

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Having recently disposed of the Saudia 773ER, following the arrival of the 789, I wasn’t expecting this to be on the cards, and dithered for a while. Now I wish I’d dithered a bit longer.

This is a 2010 aircraft fitted with 36 business class and 262 economy. The A330 fleet is mostly used on regional flights, even on busy domestic routes like Jeddah and Damman, but with trips to Cairo, Egypt, Islamabad, Pakistan, and Lucknow in India.

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1.Fuselage

Typical of the Phoenix A333 mould, the technical print is alright, as are most of the technical graphics, doors, windows etc. What isn’t even vaguely good, is the wobbly printed green to white transition on the either side, and the colour bleed on the starboard side is even more obvious. The large gold lettering doesn’t look too bad from a distance, but frankly it’s not well painted and lacks definition – lacking definition is something that applies to this model across the board.

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Even in this the engine of the other side is clealry pointing down too far
Aerials are three up, one down and they’re all inserted neatly and tidily which makes for a good finish.

The other thing that’s gone wrong is the colour of the Saudi national flag – by door one. It should be the dark green of the tail, but some muppet set it up to print as the light green in the tail graphic. Once again, the silo system is evident – model production paint colours are not related to those used on the box, which are completely accurate. Is it so hard for them to talk?

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Far from being a high-definition print, the green-white border is nothing special…

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…on either side, and oddly rather easy to see with the naked eye

2.Wings and landing gear

Wings are a little gappy on this model, far more than usual. Grossly over-thick paint has eliminated the detail in the wing mould almost completely.

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Landing gear is silver but lightly done and not intrusive, all the wheels rotate, and are good quality, without the unsightly lumps we’ve seen too often. However the door moulds are a bit rough, and far from ideal. Not as bad as the rubbish on the recent A350’s though!

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3.Engines

The two Rolls Royce units are nice moulds and I’d like to say they were well painted, but they’re barely average. They both tilt too far down, the rims are scruffy, as is much of the rest of the paint.

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Indeed the world ‘scruffy’ sums up this model. It’s like one of those mid-twenties wannabees who turns up for an interview in an over flashy suit, and seems to think you owe him the job, then gives you attitude, but turns out to have zero substance, and no qualifications. He thinks he looks good, but you’re far too experienced to be wowed by a fake exterior, and a fash hair cut. This model is exactly that, arguable surface appearances, and no substance.

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4.Nose detail

Good technical detail but colour errors look stupid. The flag colour I’ve already mentioned, but the SkyTeam logo in black, and the writing below the cockpit windows (in Arabic and English it reads “God Bless You”), which should be the flag green, are so weakly printed they look a bit pathetic.

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Engine over-tilt is too markedly obvious
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5.Tail detail

Generally excellent, no issues I can find.

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6.Colour

Other than the erroneous print colour decisions above, it’s an excellent match for the real thing. The silo mentality where communications between the box design, and colour selection don’t make it to the production line, need urgent attention. Many models suffer from this simple lack of communication.

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7.Score and conclusion

It’s not the best A333 Phoenix have ever produced by a long way. The wobbly lines are an eyesore, and the tilt-down engines are disappointing. The colour control for the nose detail, national flag is very poor.

  • -6 for the paint lines/transition
  • -6 for the colour errors – too visible, too obvious
  • -6 for the engine over tilt on both sides
  • -4 for the seriously over-painted wings
  • -4 for poor definition in general, and low-def graphics
  • 74% is a fail – Phoenix standards have slipped, this is not a good thing.

I’m getting concerned that Phoenix have lost the plot again. Things peaked remarkably well last year and already this year, average scores have dropped significantly. Somebody needs to get their finger out and sort this before it slides any further.

My recommendation: think twice before buying at full price and be prepared to send it back if it isn’t good enough.

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