Qantas 787-9 VH-ZNA Phoenix 1:400 04160 Dec 2017


Qantas went through some very rough times in recent years, but, despite many hating him as much as liking him, Alain Joyce has managed it seems, to guide it out of the darkness and back into the light.

Part of Qantas turn-around has been demonstrated by the new livery – it’s a favourite of big corporates to change the logo and overall corporate identity. It’s a process I’ve advised on and managed countless times now for many companies, big and small. When they feel a new start is required, to signal that the old days are over, and this is ‘who we are now’, there’s nothing quite like a rebrand or corporate ID refresh.

This image is excellent as it accurately captures colouring – especially the QANTAS logo

Some companies can get away with a total reinvention, others that hold national pride and flag waving in their remit, even if they don’t want that burden, have to be more careful. The danger is that the public may find some way of mocking it, so you have to be excruciatingly careful not to break with tradition too much, but reinvigorate the brand image in others, without appearing too tame, or thoughtless. The ‘armless’ kangaroo on the Qantas tail, came in for some stick for example.

Part of the spur for new logos and liveries has been the extraordinary Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Fast approaching 600 operational aircraft and not far from producing 14 a month, it’s revolutionised air travel in a new way. Range and economy have opened up a multitude of new routes and options airlines simply couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

Another superb photo that accurately defines the colours, that grey QANTAS isn’t the dark, indeed black of the model.

Boeing’s livery design agency Teague, seem to have adopted the “Dreamliner Dip” as their signature and some airlines went as far as changing the entire airline livery to match it (KLM for example). Others like United kept it only on their 787’s. I’m glad to say this isn’t a feature of the Qantas 787-9. The concept is becoming a little common.

Eight of the 789’s were ordered in 2015, in many ways as replacements for the 744 fleet, of which only 10 remain in service out of the original 21. The last three were only delivered in 2003 which makes it a relatively young fleet compared to BA for example.

Qantas has gotten itself into bed with Emirates, at the expense of its own Oneworld allies. Cathay were none to pleased, and Singapore disappointed that the airline re-routed flights via Dubai. I said at the time that I believed this was a terrible mistake, yet Qantas were adamant that customers preferred it. So if they did why, when the Emirates deal was renewed, did they re-route back to Singapore and avoid Dubai completely? The A380 route and stops for fuel in Dubai were in direct competition with Emirates flights from London and it wasn’t working out.


Enter the Dreamliner. We’re at the start of this new aircraft’s 30 year future with Qantas and I think many more will be ordered in the coming years. Especially if Boeing can crack the Ultra Long Range requirement challenge. Qantas wants to get to London at the least, non stop. That will be an amazing achievement. It might be the A350 or the 777-8 that makes it possible but, that’s the goal.

In the meantime 787-9’s will begin flying to London from Sydney via Perth, replacing an A380 on the route running via Dubai. It seems like a long way round – but don’t make the mistake of looking at it on a flat map – only on a globe does it become apparent what a good idea this is.

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The Phoenix model I have waited ages for, it seems. Gemini rushed out an inaccurate version with a fantasy registration early in 2017, and those are fatal as long-term investments. If you come to sell them they go for half of what an actual registration does.

VH-ZNA was delivered on 11th October 2017, and is powered by the GEnx-1B engine, named Great Southern Land, and fitted with 42 business class, 28 premium economy and 166 economy seats.

So how does this model do…it’s the first to be scored under 2018’s new rules as it arrived after the cut-off date for 2017 (22nd December). 50% will be based on build quality, 50% on accuracy.


Phoenix were leaders in 787 moulds until the appearance of the new JC Wings version, which effectively gives us three types, JCW’s new, Phoenix’s still excellent one, and the old-fashioned cradle winged Gemini, (you know, the oldest, least accurate, worst built, most expensive one).

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Phoenix have not disappointed. The mould is to its usually high standard, far and away the best model Phoenix make in terms of quality.

Three aerials, all superbly positioned and scaled on the roof, along with the small moulded in aeiral aft underneath, all correct.

The fuselage printed-on technical detail, especially the doors, is as it always has been on this type, outstanding. The level of high-definition detail is extraordinary. Even a lot of high-res photographs have trouble picking some of it out on the real thing.

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The white paint is also completely flawless, not a spec of dust or a mark anywhere.

Not only is all of that worth mentioning, so is the font accuracy and layout both on the sides and underneath.


A pair of superbly fitted – and it has to be said clean and detailed wings. The upper surfaces are not swamped in paint and there is plentiful detail. The silver leading edges are neat and precise, with a low reflectivity matt finish silver used to improve realism.

The underwing though, as is often the case with Phoenix is very plain, to the point of bland.

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3.Landing Gear

The nose gear is well fitted, solid, and a good size. Proper wheels on tyres, the hydraulics appear a light grey, which isn’t entirely inconsistent with the real thing, I remain unconvinced that the doors on the nose gear are long enough, they seem too short and too wide, but it’s a fractional amount.

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The main gear doors are fine, properly shaped and everything is set correctly into the wing. However the rear axle on the right set is almost rigid and doesn’t want to roll.


The nacelles and overall finish of the engines, in terms of paint and detail are superb. turn the aircraft upside down to see the detail under the nacelles,  it’s superbly done. I question ony the colour of that detail. The photos I’ve seen suggest it’s not as red as it looks on the model. If anyone knows better, please advise!

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Rims appear not to be tidy at first, but this is dried loose material which if you gently rub your finger round it, comes off, leaving perfectly finished rims – and dark titanium painted fans! Fans I hastewn to add, that look like real fans!

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5.Nose detail

Phoenix have done a superb job, super-fine detail on a superbly detailed nose, with a very neat cockpit print. Qantas keep the Oneworld logo very small on their aircraft, and it only appears on the left No.1 door to the right, and you can just make it out on the model.

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6.Tail detail

This is where it really notices how well the paint has been finished and how accurately. The silver tail wrap is exceptionally neat and precise, the leading edge silver on the vertical stabilizer outstanding, the subtle grey in the kangaroo tail another positive detail.

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This is very much harder to discern with the naked eye. The only way is to present the model to a full spectrum daylight bulb, and I’ve just had a brand new one installed for this very purpose.

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The red tail looks a little dark, but once under the full daylight, comes over as completely accurate. However, no matter how you look at it, the QANTAS logo (and the much smaller Spirit of Australia wording), which should be more dark grey than black, is too dark, even under daylight conditions. It’s not coal-black, but it’s still not light enough to be perfect, by a wide margin. I suspect they looked at the Qantas website logo – where it remains a traditional black. Some cameras also don’t do it justice.

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8. Score and conclusions


  • – 6 for the logo colour, it’s just too dark and too dominant to be wrong
  • -2 for the nose gear door, its slightly too short and too wide
  • 42/50 Accuracy score


  • -2 Rear right gear not working
  • 48/50 Quality score

Overall score: 90% – so we have a high level of quality, but not so high in the overall accuracy stakes. However, that’s still a very good score.

My recommendation: I’d still buy this because as a stand alone model it’s excellent (and way cheaper than the forgettable Gemini), a 90% score is very good. However if the accuracy matters to you, that logo is just too black. It’s a disappointing lack of research from Phoenix. The details and colours have been available from Qantas for a year, anyone can find them out. However it wouldn’t stop me buying this version, and I wouldn’t let it stop you.