The A350-1000 House livery test aircraft was remarkably cheap – just £29 as part of a multi- model order from Europe.
I’ve decided to give this a more general over view, rather than break it down as normal. To me test aircraft models are not much use for airports or collections except as oddities, and most of you think the same thing. Relatively few get sold and their used values are miserable.
This was an opportunity for JC Wings to revise the very poor original -900 that was seemingly signed off before Airbus finalised the design. It’s also a chance to revise the original wing tips which were way off. It was a chance for them to go back to the drawing board and start again.
The A350-1000 is a very large aircraft. In typical three-class mode it should seat around 366 passengers (325 on a -900), but in two class that could easily hit 400. 73.78m long and with a wing span of 64.75m (a mere 25cm inside the maximum for most taxiways), it has a max take off weight of 308 tonnes and a max landing weight of 220 tonnes. A range of 14,800km (7,950 nautical miles), means that from Europe, the only place it cannot reach is South Eastern Australia and New Zealand. Base one in Dubai and there is nowhere other than the Galapagos and a few small islands in the South Eastern Pacific it can’t reach.
The two Rolls Royce trent XWB’s are rated at 97,000lbs of thrust but, my brother-in-law who worked on the testing, tells me they push up to 120,000lbs with ease, and during testing damaged the test facilities doors by sucking them inward!
The tip of the nose of the -900 comes as far forward as the middle of Door 1 on the -1000, the rest is additional length and it really notices, far more than on the 787-8/9. The wings of course are no different. It’s actually almost as long as an A340-600 which, because of its comparatively narrow body, is starting to look a bit small!
There have been only 212 orders for the aircraft so far, but the -1000 has customers the -900 doesn’t, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic being the most important on my personal list, but many of the usual suspects have ordered as well. Discussion on the possibility of a -1200 (or -1100 or -8000 depending on who wrote the article) continues, but I’m not convinced that will ever happen, especially now with many airlines deferring large aircraft orders.
Uprated tonnages however, are in the offing, only this week Airbus put out an airport facilities discussion document on handling higher gross take off and landing weights, adding between 1 to 3 tonnes.
Up until now, Phoenix were the better mould, but they seem to have gone out of their way to spoil it, and frankly most of the Phoenix A350’s are now one of the worst large aircraft models they do. I blame that on being too quick off the mark early on, putting out models before the real design was finished.
JCW/Gemini took much longer but it was a total balls up, with flat wing tips and a nose more like a 787 than an A350. You can see here the orginal Vietnam Airlines A359 comparison .
Sadly, JCW have once again taken the cheap way out. All they seem to have done is extend the existing mould, and the nose still lacks that crucial design feature: the kink upward that starts at the base of the cockpit windows. It’s totally missing, and it takes away from the A350’s key visual characteristics. It still looks more like a 787 front end.
The other failing on both manufacturers models is lack of height in the fuselage. Again, a rush to market, lack of research and plain greed, has left them both having invested in the wrong specifications.
On the positive side, the wings are a tremendous improvement, the ultra curved wingtips, which can be highly deceptive depending on where you happen to be standing, are as good as the Phoenix ones if not marginally better, which is saying something.
However, the leading edges on the real-life wings are not silver, as they are on the model. I’ve seen the A350 test aircraft at Farnbrough twice and have a huge bank of photos – and it really doesn’t have bright silver leading edges or silver blades on the fans.
One of the only other major changes is the addition of a third axel on the main gear boggies for a total of 12 wheels. There is no doubt JCW have made a far better job of the landing gear than Phoenix have so far. Indeed Phoenix’s response to the engines dragging the ground on the -900 model was to put back on the over-sized tyres everyone complained about, to lift them higher off the ground.
They’ve been a bit selective over which sensors to show on the model’s nose. There are 5 below the cockpit window on this aircraft, but they show only three, and 4 up each side, but again they show 3 on the model.They’ve basically copied the A359 detail over and not checked to update it.
The engines are the same, and an excellent version they are too, with neat, see-through fans and they’re beautifully assembled. Just the wrong fan colour as you can see from the images above, and the exhaust cones should be blue, not grey.
In terms of livery, this model represents the earliest of the three -1000 test aircraft and is the standard Airbus house blue tail and white livery. The huge 1000 and XWB logos are all excellent.
Overall, I don’t buy these test aircraft models very often, their re-sale is terrible and it’ll be sold off pretty quickly, as it serves no real purpose on my diorama. However it does provide key information on storage space use, and its footprint at LNI, which is formidable.
In the end while it’s a reasonably competent model. It, along with the Phoenix, lack key elements. This to me is no different to the Phoenix 744 – that’s a truly terrible mould though, but it deserves equal dismissal because the principle is the same. A key design element has been utterly ignored, and opportunity to fix it has been right in front of them, and they were too lazy to do anything about it.
We are therefore condemned to years of mediocre A350’s. And that’s not very amusing long-term. It means I just won’t buy many. The BA and the Virgin Atlantic certainly, but much else, unless the livery is remarkable, no.
I hate to say it but I find that deeply sad. It’s like a bunch of aviation-ignorant morons are developing these models. Despite the fact they’re not really anything more than vaguely similar to the real thing, they’ll still get purchased, whereas if you all didn’t bother they’d soon correct them.
Until collectors are prepared to say no, don’t expect manufacturers to do anything about it.
It simply leaves me almost speechless with disbelief, that professional model makers, who make millions of dollars from selling these things to us, cannot get something right, when there is so much information available on the internet. A baboon with a monocle and a top hat could fling mud at a wall and design it more accurately through trial and error. It just isn’t good enough.
My recommendation: Don’t waste your money.