D-AVXB is the A321neo test aircraft produced by Airbus and completed in February 2016.
The aircraft is MSN 6839 and is equipped with 2x CFMI LEAP-1A engines. However for you and me, this is the first Neo model to come out of Phoenix under their own brand. It’s that fact that makes this interesting and it’s the only reason I bought it.
As you’ll be aware we had a good look at the Panda, Gemini and Aeroclassics A320neo’s earlier this year, so this is something very new. Or is it?
The A321neo is a big deal for Airbus. In its standard and Long range formats, it’s becoming the go-to 757 replacement – La Compagnie for example, who operate 757-200s to New York, are typical example of a A321neo customer. A321neo’s order backlog is around 1600 aircraft, and that grows almost every month.
The fuselage is one of the most unaltered parts of the neo programme. Other than a few tweaks the exterior is almost indistinguishable from the A321ceo. The model duplicates that – Phoenix have done nothing to change it.
The three roof aerials are stil present as is the one underneath. The quality of the print and technical detail is excellent, as is the graphics reproduction of the grey ‘neo’, Airbus A321 logo and the “unbeatable fuel efficiency” tiles.
2.Wings and landing gear
These are the most altered area of the Neo programme. There is one noticeable difference where the neo was aerodynamically tidied up. The engine pylons don’t have a rearward extension as they do on the CEO.
There’s also an alteration to the wing tip and sharklet. On the neo it’s marginally more vertical and a little taller compared to the retrofit version, something Phoenix have correctly translated.
In reality the wings were quite seriously modified to reduce aerodynamic inefficiencies but it was mostly small detail work, assembly and materials practices that were used to reduce weight, and increase aerodynamic efficiency. Visually the differences are so minimal they can’t be represented in a 1:400 model.
In terms of quality, the wings are reasonably fitted – indeed the starboard wing could be said to be cutting it fine in terms of fitting quality. That being so I soon found out why – it wasn’t actually glued in.
While it can’t fall out because of the mould lock, it’s loose and moves about with little effort.
The landing gear is OK, no problems.
Having seen the grossly over sized Gemini engines, never mind its morbidly obese fuselage, a lot of my attention has been taken up in seeing how well the engines have been done on this model.
First off, they’re obviously plastic. Secondly, the pylons are wrong. They’re recessed into the engines too deeply – almost to the point they vanish from looking side-on. Frankly they’re pathetic.
My first thought was the engines were too small. I checked with CFM Support directly, and they gave me the exact engine sizes without any issue, in fact they couldn’t be more helpful.
The fan width should be 1980mm, so that’s 4.95mm in 1:400. And that’s correct, the fan size is spot on.
The length is 3328mm so 8.32mm in 1:400 – that’s the case length, not the exhausts. So that too is correct and the exhausts look just as accurate. So why do they look too small?
It’s optics, the engines are too high because they’ve been forced to far onto the pylons, so they don’t hang low enough, with that distortion, they appear to look too small.
Overall the quality of the engines is quite high. Fans colours and rims are excellent, they’re a new design and assembly, but they’re going to have to modify the pylons and engine fit to make them work.
Standard Phoenix A321, neat enough, detailed well, entirely competent.
The vertical stabilizer detail is good, but a little bit of a gap at the forward edge into the fuselage looks less than subtle. The port horizontal stabilizer is not a good fit. It seems to be incapable of touching the fuselage, the other side fits fine.
7.Score and conclusions
- -2 for the vertical stabilizer
- -2 for the port side horizontal stabilizer
- -10 for the engine pylons, they’re really not at all right and need addressing
- -6 for the loose wing – unacceptable
- 80% is poor, really not good enough
Phoenix need to get on top of these A321neos and any other neo they might be developing before they get out of hand. The wings and fuselage moulds are excellent. The stabilizers and engine pylons need seeing to urgently, as does the way the engines fit those pylons. This is a badly put together model and a real disappointment.
My recommendation: if you collect these House aircraft models, I suspect nothing will stop you buying it, but if you don’t steer well clear.