Asiana Airlines A350-900 HL8078 Phoenix 11372 1:400 July 2017

One wing to rue them all,
One wing inside them,
All it needs is a drop of glue,
to in the fuselage bind them.

I may be having another moment. I get the model out of its box, I turn it slightly and the left wing falls out, bounces off the aluminium edge of my glass desk and falls, spiked winglet first, onto my foot, cutting it open. Words were said, though only the dog was listening, and a raised eyebrow was all it garnered.

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If Airbus made things as poorly as Phoenix, we’d all be worried

‘Rue’ may mean ‘street’ in French, and isn’t often used in English these days, but one of its key meanings is ‘to feel sorrow for‘.

I do, I really do. I feel sorrow for Phoenix in their incompetence, I feel sorrow for everyone who has the same model problem, I feel sorrow for the lack of quality control. Most of all I feel sorrow for the fact that despite months passing since I last invited a Phoenix A359 to reside in my collection, it was its wings falling out that was the primary problem. In the vernacular of the modern era, WTF?

Did you Phoenix people ever learn that glue is sticky for a reason?  Let me make it plain Phoenix sat there in Hong Kong, it would take but a drop of the clear sticky stuff to make this problem go away? And yet here we are, and you still cannot manage the basics.

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Rant over, breathe, play 1970’s electro-Space Experience by John Keating on Apple Music, and remember there was once funky glamour in the world, you drove up to the aircraft, and someone opened the door as you stepped out of your Baltic Blue over Argent Silver Corniche Convertible, and were ushered straight to First Class by a hyper-fashionable Air Hostess wearing a glass ball on her head and a pink cape, as you took off in your Braniff Orange 747-100 bound for Los Angeles. That’s it…calm restored.

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Asiana of course are the other big airline of South Korea. Their newest livery is a lot nicer than the dull as dishwater grey they used to smother their dreary looking aircraft in.

Now bright and modern, though still retaining the grey as a link to their past, they’re a well-known global airline and a big Airbus operator. They’ve had their problems, not least the incompetent piloting that lead to the San Francisco tragedy a couple of years ago.

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The new A359’s of which 12 were ordered, along with 10 A350-1000’s, will service routes as disparate as Singapore, Shanghai, Manila, Hanoi and San Francisco, as well as high density short-haul to Osaka.

This model is the first one, delivered on 24 April 2017, leased from SMBC. She carries 28 Business Smartium, 36 Economy Smartium and 247 Economy class. The bizarrely named “Smartium”, the Economy version is a couple of rows behind business class where the ssats have 4″ (10cm) more leg room and you get a mildly better service level, but it’s not a full premium economy.  These only exist on the A350’s.

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1.Fuselage

The fuselage is OK, the nose shape we all know isn’t quite right but it was vastly superior to the Gemini/JCW version. I haven’t seen the new JCW A350-1000 yet (it’s waiting for a couple of other orders to materialise before its shipped), to compare it to.

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One significant thing is the big rear mounted dome which is an add-on, but is at least well made for once, and fits reasonably well.

Everything else is surprisingly neat and tidy.

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Dome fits neatly and is moulded well, just not in full contact with the roof.

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2.Wings and landing gear.

Other than a lack of glue, the wings are fine. I’ve had one person tell me the sharklets are a bit short, but I can’t see anything wrong with these. They remain a highlight in terms of shape and accuracy.

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The worst aspect of the wings is that because of the lack of glue, they don’t actually fit as seamlessly as they should.

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Landing gear is good, the doors, finally have been fixed and don’t look like beaten up milk bottle tops. The nose gear is slightly twisted to the left but was easily corrected. The left side rear wheels of the main gear don’t touch the ground properly, and nothing I’ve tried gets them to do so.

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3.Engines

Another problem resolved, they’re no longer dragging on the floor, and have been returned to their correct position. The fans are excellent and the see-through engines a success. Nacelles are well painted, but the exhaust cones are grey, not the correct titanium blue they should be.

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4.Nose detail

Surprisingly neat, and well finished, without blurred paint where white meets grey, and plenty of good quality technical detail. The cockpit windows are excellent. The Unicef and Star Alliance tiles are also well done.

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5.Tail detail

The bright colours look great, all have merged well and  show no over print or ugly blurs. On top of that all three parts are properly inserted and fit well. Even the under-tail paint is excellent with no faults.

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However, the tail isn’t quite right at the vertical leading edge. Phoenix have overdone the grey and where it meets the red is too high. Also the leading edge is the bright red, not the fuchsia colour. It’s a detail thing and they didn’t get it spot on.

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6.Colours

No issue with the colours themselves, they’re as good as they could be expected to be.

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7.Score and conclusion

  • -15 In anyones book, falling out wings are a big no-no
  • -2 twisted nose gear
  • -2 twisted main gear, port side rear wheels don’t touch the ground
  • -3 lack of attention to detail on the paint layout for the vertical stabilizer
  • 78% is a fail. In theory it should be returned, but we’ll talk discounts to the retailer and it’ll probably stay.

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In any even, once it’s all back together it’s not too bad. the trouble is when something ike this happens straight out of the box, it just kills any positive vibe or impression stone cold dead. It isn’t good enough and Phoenix must know it.

I also wondered what happened to the Qatar A380 – that’s not arrived from the same order – a mysterious delay. Last time they did this it never turned up at all. Annoying really as I sold the hideous Gemini version with its terrible nose mould.

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My recommendation: If it’s in one piece, it’s not bad, but I feel the shine has gone from it. Don’t let it stop you buying it though, you can always send it back if its too bad.

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