GULF AIR is the tiny Persian Gulf island state of the Kingdom of Bahrein’s national carrier. The advent of the Dreamliner is a big deal for an airline heavily overshadowed by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar who are all just about as close as it’s possible to get.
The country is riven with political instability, with a Saudi supported monarchy of Sunni’s and the vast majority of the population pro-Iranian Shia’s. A democracy it most definitely is not. It also no longer has oil, but is a centre for processing everyone elses, never mind being the base for the US Fifth Fleet.
Gulf Air’s re-branding and new aircraft are as much about making the kingdom look progressive and modern, when it most definitely isn’t, as it is about trying to get out from under the shadow of its vast airline neighbours.
The country also hosts an annual Grand Prix event and Gulf Air is one of the primary sponsors.
The aircraft is fitted with 26 business class and 256 economy so is quite high density for its type. Middle Eastern airlines eschew Premium Economy seating finding it difficult to sell in their home markets. The aircraft is powered by Rolls Royce Trent-1000’s.
The new livery is a very distinctive make over, making the GULF AIR vastly more prominent on the aircraft, but retaining the gold paint on the engines and on the falcon. The aircraft also sports the new Formula-1 F1 logo on each rear quarter.
This is the long used standard Phoenix mould for the 789, and while it is very good, it’s now quite definitely secondary to the JC Wings new mould, lacking some details, especially when it comes to under-body areas.
The primary fuselage technical details are excellent, all to the standards we have long come to expect.
There are three aerials up top, the foremost of which is not well painted and hasn’t been sealed in to its obvious hole. The two at the rear are also not particularly well painted. The one visible aerial at the rear underneath is quite the opposite, being well seated and well painted.
The wi-fi dome is also well fitted and painted.
Whats missing underneath that the JC Wings mould is so good with are ‘bars’ under the central frame and the air intakes in the front of the wing root frame, which now seem to have vanished on the Phoenix.
Nice mould as it always has been, with perhaps a little less paint than they used to have – at last! This means the white gloss is still very present but the mould detail is much clearer. However it has to be said, the JCW is even more refined, above and below, and uses a more appropriate paint. (Please remember here that Gemini are still using the old JCW mould, not the new one, and that’s looking like a relic from the middle ages now).
Sadly there is a noticeable accuracy issue on the Phoenix. The leading edges are not chrome/aluminium in finish as they are on the model, just plain white.
The wings also seem to be loosing their tight fitting reputation, especially on the starboard side, where the gap is very minimal but noticeable. Things like this suggest the mould is wearing.
Main gear is neat and tidy, as is the nose gear. There is though a notable weakness in the nose gear, it seems to bend easily and is unusually delicate.
Beautifully made, but the nacelles – in common with the falcon logo on the tail and everything else that’s supposed to be an antique golden metallic, is more like a caramel, one could easily say that it’s been fudged. A major fail when they are the primary source of differential colour on the model.
Accurate, neat and problem free.
While its graphically accurate, its gold colouring, as referred to above is wrong. The registration on the port side is partially missing too.
The gold is a massive failure. It’s correct on the box – how often is that the case? But it is way out of even the faintist attempt at accuracy everywhere else on the model.
It’s sad because Phoenix had managed to get someone in for the last two years who didn’t make mistakes like this. Now they’re back to their old ways? I do hope not.
8.Scores and conclusions
- -20 for a primary brand colour fail
- -2 lack of mould detail for air intakes
- -2 lack of printed detail underneath
- -4 incorrect wing leading edge detail
22/50 for Accuracy
- -1 for the issue with the registration
- -2 for the issue with the weak nose gear
- -2 for aerial paint/seating quality
45/50 for Quality
Overall score 67%
Very disappointing. The colour cock-up is truly awful. If Phoenix are going back down this road again – they spent years there before sorting themselves out, we have a potential long-term problem. Bad colours, either through incompetence or lack of research and paint mixing technology, are simply not acceptable. Get to grips Phoenix before it’s too late!