Iran Air A330-200 EP-IJA Phoenix 11373 1:400 July 2017

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The saga of Iran post-1979 could fill a dozen history books by itself. It has never been a land lacking in controversy. A people and nation older than history itself in many ways, and a country nobody should ever underestimate. I can never stress that sufficiently enough.

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Having secured Iran’s agreement to cease development of nuclear weapons, the trade-off was that sanctions would be lifted and Iran would get back several billion dollars held on deposit in the US, and access to the daily goods and services (with certain more sensitive restrictions), the rest of the world had access to, including international banking. High on the shopping list was aircraft. Iran’s aviation sector is crying out for new aircraft, both for international, and much-needed domestic connectivity. The delivery of this aircraft was actually held up because it became difficult for Iran to pay Airbus, even though it had the money.

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Final approach to RLS International Runway L25

Boeing is in receipt of orders for Iran Air, but Airbus was first out of the door with its own bookings, and the first with deliveries. EP-IJA is the first of a number of Airbus orders, and a second A332 is already in service.

This aircraft (and her sister EP-IJB), were actually built in December 2014 for Avianca Brazil, and EP-IJA was to be registered as PR-OCL but was never delivered. Both went to Airbus (EP-IJA as F-WAXJ), and were subsequently stored at Teruel in Spain, until January 2017, when they were un-mothballed for delivery preparation.

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Delivered on the 11th march 2017, she’s powered by Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60’s, and fitted with 32 business and 206 economy seats. Other than a few side trips to Paris, and a couple to Cologne, she’s spent most of her time flying from Tehran to Stockholm in Sweden, and back. There’s a sizeable émigré population in Sweden the airline services. The second A332 has spent most of its time on Iranian domestic flights.

1.Fuselage

A good quality standard A332 fuselage, with three aerials up and one below.

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Print is simple, clean and neat and looks good from the requisite 60cm/2ft range, though the Islamic Republic lettering by the flag is a bit thin on close up.

It’s a very simple livery at the end of the day, but it works. From my perspective this is the last Iran Air that will enter the collection for a very long time.

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2.Wings and landing gear

Let’s start with the gear. I’m bothered by the fact that one of Phoenix’s long fixed, but near-permanent problems between 2011 and early 2015, was the nose gear wheels falling out. Guess what happened? I do not appreciate having to glue wheels on to an axle. I sincerely hope this is a one-off, and not the start of a pernicious trend.

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Silver hydraulics are bit too bright, but at least the tyres aren’t bulging with lumps of black.

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The wings are grossly over painted again. There’s nothing wrong with the finish technically, except it’s too high a gloss, and swamps detail. At least the old problem with the right wing remains fixed and both are glued in properly – unlike the recent Asiana.

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3.Engines

Visually they’re not too bad. Rims from the sides are neat but from head on look a little rough close up, but they more than pass the 60cm viewing rule. Colours of the fans are almost accurate, a much darker silver has been used.

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Recently the Rolls Royce engines, which have exhaust fans, have been far better made and painted and these are no exception.

Nacelle detail is very good with the mythical Homa in clear evidence.

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4.Nose detail

Clean and well detailed, with the A letter very visible on the nose tip. Windows are good and the wording is legible even under magnification. I don’t know what that marking is on either side of the nose, but it appears on the real thing. I’ve tried to find out but would be grateful if anyone could let me know if they do?

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5.Tail detail

If you’re wondering what the tail logo is, it’s the result of a public crowdsourcing competition conducted by the airline. The creature is a derivative of the mythical Homa, a legendary Persian bird that was always in flight. The tail it flies on is well assembled, and as accurate as the simple livery can ever be.

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The writing on the rear quarter is Perisan Farsi, not Arabic, which it’s often mistaken in The West for.

6.Colour

White, black, and the Iranian flag correctly (and if you magnify it quite accurately detailed with farsi script), coloured red white and green.

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7.Score and conclusion

  • -3 for the nose gear wheel falling off
  • 97% is otherwise the best I think a Phoenix A330 model ever scored! Other than its wheel problem, it’s not got a single defect. Hallelujah!

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My recommendation: If Iran Air interests you, a worthy buy. 

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