With KLM’s change of livery to suit the then-upcoming Dreamliners revealed in late 2014, PH-BVN was the tenth of the KLM order of 15, (the last of which is due in early 2018), and the first to be delivered from Boeing in the new livery.
Delivered on 27-28 March 2015, she’s fitted with 34 business class, 40 KLM Comfort Plus (which is economy seats with more leg room, not a premium economy), and 334 economy seats for a total of 408, which is on the high side of most seating layouts. As an example a typical British Airways 773ER is just 297, and only 183 of those are economy. Air France, who operate four different variations manage to beat it however, with one version carrying 472.
KLM and SAS are the only major European legacy airlines that don’t operate a full Premium Economy service. It seems the democratically minded and less class orientated Dutch and the Nordics aren’t into first class or premium economy in the same way the rest of Europe and much of the world is, and there are no plans to change.
PH-BVN is named Tijuca National Park / Nationaal Park Tijuca (English one side of the aircraft, Dutch the other) and is leased from ALC. She carries the KLM fleet number VN-033
KLM still trades and operates as a very different business unit to Air France despite the merger. It’s also remained profitable and industrial relations have been good. As a result it’s been able to lay claim to much of AF-KLM’s order book for new aircraft.
I bought this recently to replace the PH-BVA, the KLM Kings Day Orange version, which isn’t one of Phoenix’s finest, though it was far better than the Gemini version.
Compare this and its detail, quality and refinement to the low-grade, low-definition of the Gemini Virgin Australia we looked at last week, and it just really makes it clear how much better this is and how bad that was.
There is a quality and definition on this model that looks every bit the contemporary level of detail and finesse we should expect and pay for. On top of that this is so much cheaper.
It is fair to say that it’s not the most hyper-detailed base mould, but it’s more than passable, and yes I know some people don’t like it, but its much harder to see what’s wrong with it than say, the A350 from either set of manufacturers.
What it does do is make up in paint and technical detail for any of its other weaknesses.
The paint, blue line and under-body white are all excellent, without deviation or bleed. The aerials and domes (three up top and one dome) are excellent and painted white, standing out as perfect against the KLM blue. There is one underneath, the red waste water heater.
Overall, a really nice, superbly finished fuselage, with super-high quality detail and a quality fi.
2.Wings and landing gear
It’s actually the under-wing fuselage mould where this is least accurate, but it’s of little overall consequence. It could bet better. The wings themselves are superbly fitted and detailed, if over painted. The over glossed paint is especially noticeable underneath.
Other than that, they are, unquestionably a really nice set of wings and there’s nothing to fault on them.
The landing gear doors aren’t quite up scratch suffering as Phoenix so often do, from poor metal quality. however this time they’re not that bad and have been painted well enough to make up for any short comings.
Fourteen mostly lump-free tyres and a good set of hydraulics and wheels complete the set.
Vastly superior to the Gemini versions, dark and very realistic looking fans, with the correct white centre, superb silver rims and a great exhaust. The nacelles are excellent and correctly painted with the KLM logos in the centres.
Outstanding engines, and the pylons and detail are true to life, including that red marking KLM always like to use on the base/rear of the pylons.
This is crucial because of the way the line drops and finishes almost as a chin srap under the nose. The KLM Kings Day Orange version didn’t get this at all well, and that’s one reason I want to replace it.
On this model the nose is superb. Filled with technical detail commensurate with the real thing. The Skyteam logo is excellent as is the whole KLM Royal Dutch Airlines tile.
Again superb, lots of detail, well assembled.
The blue is as good a match as any. No issues.
7.Score and conclusion
The only very sightly wrong thing is the gear doors, but at best only a small minus as they’re not so bad as to be a major concern.
- -2 for the gear doors
- 98% is an excellent score.
For a mere £22 this was a bargain. Very pleased! I would have bought it new, but there are only so many new models you can buy in a month when presented with so much choice.
Compare this 777 from 2015 to Gemini’s from 2017 and you have to wonder how Gemini are still in business. All the time people buy their crap and don’t complain about faults, nothing will change. They’re still trolling off to the bank with your hard-earned cash because buyers are saying nothing even when they know they should.
My recommendation: a definite buy.