Etihad Airways Cargo 777-FFX A6-DDD Phoenix 1:400 11455 July 2018

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Etihad is on the middle of a massive restructuring – and new senior managers who seem, in the opinions of some, to have been appointed more for who they are in the Abu Dhabi ruling elite than any real aviation expertise.

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The Eitihad cargo business was thriving, but radical cuts to save short-term cash after the disastrous AlItalia and AirBerlin investment failures saw cargo unfairly targeted by shortsighted managers, just when the cargo boom of 2017 – which looks to be nearly as big in 2018, hit its full stride. Much of the problem was the furlough of pilots and ground staff.

Etihad got rid of its only 748F a while ago, then two 744F’s – just when 744F’s are now in peak demand and can barely be found for love nor money. The almost new A332F’s were shuttered and placed in storage – they’re being sold off to DHL subsidiary EAT Leipzig who see more use in the type than most. For months they’ve sat earning nothing just when they’re in most demand.

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The future of the entire cargo business is in doubt, but the remaining five 777-FFX’s are still flying – the only reason being that they generate a high level of revenue the airline can’t afford right now, to be without. Even so the reality is there are just four, as one is permanently allocated by the UAE Government to humanitarian work only during the “Year of Zayeed”. A sixth was due to be delivered in October but that now appears to have been suspended indefinitely until its slot can be sold to another buyer, which won’t be difficult.

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Powered by 2x GE GE90-110B1’s A6-DDD was delivered 25th February 2016. She seems to operate everywhere with the exception of North America, and I’ve not been able to find a trans-Pacific crossing.

So what have Phoenix done with the model of this aircraft?

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1.Fuselage

The mould is excellent and the overall quality of the paint and finish, again excellent. It’s not without colour issues I’ll come to later.

There is a marked, almost super-quality lacquer finish to the overall scheme, that gives it considerable lustre. There has been a small downside to this. Some of the usually very high-definition detail, especially around the nose, has found it difficult to get a purchase on the lacquer, and is not to its usual super-high standards. Don’t get me wrong it’s not by any means bad, just not as brilliant as it’s been in the past.

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Larger graphics and details are fine, and all of the aerials on the roof are present, as is one underneath.

2.Wings

The moulds are excellent and the finish very good, still a bit too much paint however. What I’m not so keen on is the somewhat large gaps around the wing roots. Is the mould wearing, or is there something going on inside which stops them fitting seamlessly? This needs addressing before it worsens.

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3. Landing gear

For once nothing at all to complain about, it all seems to be working, quality and intact, if a tiny bit over silvered.

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4.Engines

Once again the new see-through and rotating GE’s are installed, but I’m sorry I just do not think they look right. The intakes look pinched-in all round to enclose the rotating fan, not at all like the real thing. This gimmick – and it is exactly that – see through is fine, but rotating is utterly, monumentally pointless! This is not a toy! To loose visible accuracy for a stupid gimmick, however well-intentioned, is a retrograde step.

The exhaust paint is the right colour if a little bit untidy.

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The real life engine rims are not smaller than the outside of the nacelles. This is all about making the model fit a novelty component that about producing an accurate model.Having gone to so much trouble you’d think they’d paint the fans the right colour!

5. Nose detail

In general very good, but the detail print hasn’t been able to bond onto the highly lacquered finish as well as it should have. It’s no tragedy, but it’s not perfect.

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6.Tail detail

All pretty good to be fair. The only real issues are colours.

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These photos clearly demonstrate the colour differences in the Gemini 744 (2015’s MOTY winner), and the Phoenix baby sick beige-yellow triangles on the roof and tail

7.Colour

It’s that beige-sand colour on the roof and in the tail, it’s far too light by many shades, and it looks more like baby sick than the sandy metallic it actually is. Why is it so hard to get right? Why do Phoenix never learn? I know they read these reviews but like automatons they just keep doing the same thing, even though the digital print on the box is correct! Keep doing the same thing expecting the result to be different? A prime definition of insanity.

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8.Score and conclusion

Accuracy

  • -10 for repeated colour fails on the main livery
  • -6 Engine rims – they just dont’ look right being smaller than the nacelles.
  • -4 fan colour is wrong, spend less time on gimmicks and more on accuracy!

30/50 for accuracy

Quality

  • -2 for slight decline in technical graphic quality especially at the nose
  • -4 for the slightly messy engine exhaust paint

44/50 for quality

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Overall score: 74%

Generally speaking it’s a reasonably good model that could have been excellent. Phoenix seem to have lost their previously excellent colourist and gone back to their old colour-blind ways. Most people will not care about any of the above, and that’s why nothing changes. It’s an entirely commercially acceptable model, even if it isn’t a brilliant one.

While I am keeping the Etihad cargo fleet – all of it now in the “new” 2015 livery, the passenger airliners are being sold off. Once the first A350 comes online, the 787 will go. Only the A380 and A350 will remain.

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