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Air Transat recently updated its logo and corporate ID again, but with minor changes, the one above is current as of August 2017. They also reached their 30th birthday in February, having been founded in 1987.
The airline takes great pride in flying near-scrap age aircraft. There are two schools of thought here. There is the low-cost model, or the standard legacy model. Delta more than most, has held on to old aircraft for grim death, flying them until they can fly no more. On a trip from SFO to Chicago last year we were on a 767 that was 30 years old. In the UK, until recently, jet2 had an average age of some 23.7 years, with the youngest being 19 and the oldest 27.
Yet jet2 decided that the real cost savings were in new more efficient aircraft and began converting to new 738’s. It joined RyanAir and esyJet who prefer aircraft to be no more that 3-5 years old so that maintenance and down time remain at peak performance levels.
It’s all about weighing reliability and rising maintenance costs against fuel consumption and purchase or lease costs, which gives you the best return on your investment?
Air Transat has long been known for stretching lifespans, it’s 9 A310’s are verging on antiques, the oldest is as old as the airline itself and they’re among a tiny handful of passenger versions that still fly anywhere.
This A333, C-GKTS is no spring chicken, at 22 years old. First delivered to Dragonair in September 1995, Air Transat have had her since October 1999. Serial number 111, fitted with 12 business seats and 363 economy, and powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 772-60’s shes’ still leased from AerCap. Having endured most of Air Transat’s liveries, she was painted in to this 30 year special anniversary livery back in February 2017.
This particular aircraft is rotated between Montreal and Toronto and flies London Gatwick or Paris CDG most of the time at present, but rotates into Marseilles, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Brussels, Birmingham (BHX), and Lisbon at others.
Aeroclassics global pricing is pretty much comparable around the world give or take tax. It was only marginally more in the UK than in Europe with a £1 difference. The model is a very limited run, just 150 having been made, but I didn’t know that until after it had arrived.
Following on from CS-TOV and TAP Portugal’s special livery, I can only repeat that this is the best A330 mould on the market.
Technical print and associated detail is once again first class, as good as any other on the market. There is always enough to provide convincing detail and realism, without going over board, though it is close to minimal.
What does stand out is the amazingly well duplicated blue transition, going from white to pale blue, then darker shades of sky blue, until solid on the vertical and APU. This sort of paint transition duplication is one of the more remarkable success stories of modern production methods. Its precision is stunning, and I don’t think anyone has done it better so far. They’ve tried it – Gemini screwed it up on the 773 KLM Orange losing the transition, Phoenix did it quite well but spoiled the rest of the nose detail on the same.
Well I have to hand it to Aeroclassics again on this one, it’s a brilliant paint job. It looks utterly faultless, professional quality, and it looks, most importantly realistic, and not toy like. I’m delighted with it.
2.Wings and landing gear
Once again, superbly slotted in wings offer a near-seamless finish. The paint is not too heavy, a little glossy, but not offensively so. Detail in the wing mould shows through clearly. The central, darker grey is more of a silk finish that looks the part. The thing that stands out is uniformity. These wings are the same quality and standards as the TAP model, and that often doesn’t happen with every brand.
The small sharklets are also superbly neat, with a sharply defined leading edge of darker blue and light behind it. You might think that not worth noting, but I promise you, it’s things like this that point to high production standards. Over the years detail like this has been so sloppy from every manufacturer, it’s almost a joke, so to see it done right is a big plus.
However…it’s all in the detail, and while what’s there is well done, it’s wrong. The outer sharklet faces are light blue leading edge, dark blue panel on the real thing, the model has that reversed.
Landing gear is the same quality we’ve come to expect on AC A330’s – if only they could get this standard onto their A320’s!
One of my favourite things is the accuracy of the AC engine pylons. It makes such a difference, and ensures the engines look just right positionaly. The advantage of them being plastic along with the engines I suppose.
The paint and finish on the engines is exceptionally neat. Even from the rear they look really good. The rims are neat, but the fans again, that silver isn’t as bad as it has been, but it’s still too bright.
There is though one very visible problem! The TAP model from last week does, in real life, have the black bands around the exhaust. This was done in ye olden days of the early jets, because they smoked thick black exhaust on take off, and it was used to hide the scorching and carbonising, it was part of the old livery. The Air Transat doesn’t have them, they’re silver-aluminium bands, that match the intake rim, not black.
It seems the engine makers got a bit carried away this time and just applied black to everything. That’s where QC comes in – someone should have noticed.
All of the detail is neat and accurate. From the Canadian flag to the huge Air Transat logo up the sides. Cockpit detail is first-rate.
Superb. The “30 years/ans” logo looks great and the blue leading edge paint is outstandingly accurate and superbly done – again it’s another area so often screwed up by others.
Perfect, a really great job, and one of the many areas AC have dramatically improved on in the last 12 months.
7.Score and conclusion
- -4 for the sharklets, just wrong
- -4 for the black exhaust rims because they really stand out and, again are just plain wrong
- 92% is still an excellent score, but QC issues and research let this down. Just a bit more attention please!
AC have come a long way, but silly mistakes have let this one down. It’s like that French Blue A330 earlier in the year, just not enough research. Come on AC you can do it, you’ve proved you can!
My recommendation: It’s still a very good model, and nice to have in the collection, plus I don’t think anyone else has come close to doing this version of an already under represented airline. Either way it’s a lot neater than Gemini’s over priced and yet sold out A310 version.
Also by way of an apology for fewer than normal photos in this review, that was the result of a minor but painful back-related injury now resolved, that left me unable to move to do the remaining photos, in fact I could barely sit to edit them!