This is one model I know a great many of you have been looking forward to. Of all the liveries in all the world this is the one that most people seem to love the most.
This is only Gemini’s second go at an Air Tahiti Nui – the last one was back in 2003 with F-OJTN and you can read that review here: A343 F-OJTN. The only other recent model was the Phoenix version of the A343 F-OLOV in February 2016, which you can see here: A343 F-OLOV
The airline has however, only ordered two aircraft and these will mostly be used on the shorter Pacific routes from November 2018 after training flights to Auckland and Tokyo. The new schedule seems to be including the 787-9’s on routes to LAX picking up passengers from the A343’s which then turn round and go back to Paris, rather than the whole distance to Tahiti. That could make some sense long-term, extending the lives of the A343’s.
The 787-9’s were only ordered back in 2015 and the first, F-OMUA has now been delivered. Which isn’t this model, as this is the second one and not yet finished.
The insides carry on the same themes as have been use in the past, but with newer, modern seating and lighting.
The livery has a set of meanings embedded, in what are described as tattoos. In comparison to the PR-spun meaningless liveries of many Eurobland and other airlines, it’s a refreshing change – and one of the reasons it remains enduringly popular:
Our Tahitian Dreamliner carries two red lines on its sides representing the flag of our home, a symbol of our people and the 118 different Islands of French Polynesia.
A collection of tattoos graces the rear portion of our fleet and tells a visual story about Tahiti and its people.
All international airplanes are assigned a 2 letter registration code designating its country of origin, and 3 more letters unique to each plane. We’ve used those 3 letters for meaningful Tahitian words: MUA, (forward), NUI (big), VAA (canoe), TOA (warrior). Woven together our fleet names have a hidden meaning: The warrior (TOA) going forward (MUA) in the great (NUI) canoe (VAA)!
So now to the model. You know what my general impression of Gemini is at the moment – especially after the catastrophe that was the BA A320neo.
Rather oddly Gemini have produced the second not yet delivered at the time of writing aircraft. Now bearing in mind that all of the A340-300’s have different ‘tattoos’, have we got here the wrong registration on the wrong aircraft? Time will tell.
The first thing that has to be said – and it does have to be – is that this mould is chronically dated now. In terms of basic mould details its woefully short-changing us all.
It’s the most expensive one to buy and the least detailed at a fundamental level. The fact remains that the ‘V’ air intakes, the structural ‘beam’ underneath amidships, one aerial at the rear on the roof and both underneath are all missing.
Add to that the clunky old cradle mould and we have what amounts to a 20th Century model for a 21st Century airliner. It simply isn’t good enough. Phoenix and JC Wings and now it seems, NG – all make a better mould with superior details while Gemini clings to maximum profits for as little outlay as it can manage. Little demonstrates more how Gemini plays on its brand and not on its technical execution. That tired old strap-line “Made for collectors by collectors” is utter hogwash.
However, while I have to berate Gemini for the lack of investment in what amounts almost to a modern American icon in aviation, it does have some redeeming features.
The paint job is overall, extremely good. And it needs to be for what is this aircraft without its exquisite livery? For once, we have a Gemini without blurred paint, over print, and missing or spoilt detail caused by poor application. And that’s somehow a good point when it should be simple, accepted practice.
Quite simply the old cradle mould actually fits as well as it could ever be expected to. The front end of it always looks like it’s picked up dirt in the leading edge gap, and being bright white it always notices. The gaps back and front are as small as they’re ever going to get and positively, the upper wing root fit to the fuselage has been made to appear almost seamless.
Yet the wings are over glossed and the detail underneath – well it’s totally devoid of any.
The leading edges though are neat and the finer detail isn’t entirely obscured on the upper surfaces.
The usual Gemini grey plastic, one of the tyres had a huge lump on it on the main gear. The nose gear is OK but looks a little small somehow, like it was pushed too far into the nose by a small amount.
These look excellent. Great rims, superbly coloured fans, quality exhaust, well detailed and accurate nacelles though I’m not convinced by the pylon shape and never have been.
Often the very dark frameless windows look a bit odd on Gemini models as they tend to do the same thing on every one. Here they actually look good and appropriate. Generally speaking nose detail is excellent.
No issues at all, excellent
Outstandingly good, accurate, vibrant.
8.Score and conclusions
- -3 for missing aerials – inexcusable
- -4 for missing under body detail
43 out of 50 for accuracy
- -2 for various landing gear issues
- -2 for cradle leading edge
46/50 for Quality
Overall score: 89% which is I believe the best we’ve had for any Gemini this year.
It really isn’t a bad model in isolation, but compared to the competition – there are at least four versions of 787-9 in service now – it really is number 4 in terms of overall value for money, technical execution and quality. It has to be this good to even attempt to equal the others. The thing is the cost, relative to the quality and detail, well it just isn’t good enough. Others are making better models for much less.