You all know I am a sucker for a Virgin Atlantic model! My top ‘approved for travel’ airline, and despite the erosion in its ownership over the years, it’s somehow just managed to maintain that edge over the others, especially flying to the US.
The A350-1000 has a new Upper Class and Premium layout and seating, but don’t look too closely at the specs. The premium seat has noticeably shrunk in width from 21 to 18.5″, and Upper Class – basically business seating – has dropped from 22 to 20″ in width. Economy retains the same tight 17.4″ designed for starving elves, but now appears to be standard.
In some ways the 789’s have a better layout and they retain that bar area if you’re in Upper Class, though frankly it always struck me as over rated. The 789 Upper Class was designed by someone without any real concept of ergonomic sense – how many people ripped out the TV screen from its housing? Who knew the button was on the other side of the seat where you could barely find it? Premium suffers from excessive tilt – people in front can make your flight a misery if they insist on fully reclining, though most are more accommodating and thoughtful. I can’t tell you about economy as I’ve never been in it. Just looking back at hundreds of imprisoned passengers jammed in to a child’s seat seems almost medieval.
G-VZIG “Dream Jeannie” is named after the character from the comedy TV series I Dream of Jeannie, which ran from 1965 to 1970 and starred Barbara Eden as a glamorous 2000 year old genie, and Larry Hagman as an Air Force officer. It could be amusing at times.
The 787-9 entered service on 9th March 2015, and was the fourth of a 17 aircraft order, now completed. The airline had options for more but hasn’t taken them up and looks like it never will. One aircraft, the last, G-VNYL is still waiting for Rolls Royce engine repairs, but all have been affected over the last two years.
G-VZIG is leased from AerCap, eight of the fleet are leased with nine purchased.
This is of course a new departure for NG Models, and you know how hard it is to reproduce this livery. Indeed I would say it’s one of the hardest in the world, matched only by EVA Air, and that’s because they have a similar type of paint.
This model will live or die by the excellence or lack of it, that attention to detail and reproduction of the paint attributes and colours brings to it. Can NG get it right first time? It took Gemini and Phoenix years – Gemini possibly just have the edge at present. Can NG surpass them?
There is no doubt this is the best 787-9 mould available. It’s the only one that is entirely accurate when it comes to all of those small details ignored for years – the V shaped air intakes in the lower forward fuselage, and their mould hull protrusions, as well as the long bar that runs under the aircraft belly.
For some reason none of these things were ever held to be relevant by the other manufacturers until recently. Phoenix only ever updated the 787-9 – and even then half-heartedly. Gemini’s mould is verging on being an antiquity, dating back to the first design drafts 12 years ago and even has a cradle wing system! JCW greatly improved their version, but it’s not as good as this.
The technical print detail is excellent, with lots of superbly scaled sensors and window detail, cargo doors and so on.
The aerials are all present, three up and one below, with a very neat dome on the roof.
Overall the fuselage is excellent. Lets discuss the colour further on…
The mould, the detail are all of exceptional quality, fine details, correctly coloured white paint and superbly fitted. There’s nothing to moan about with a superb set of wings.
Unquestionably the very best landing gear on any 787, superb moulds, well fitted, neat tyres, and excellent wheels, with good – realistic hydraulic paint.
The nose gear and wheels are also first rate, with superb doors and neat printed detail.
An astonishingly good mould, wonderful fans, excellent rims – that actually fit the nacelles, something woefully lacking on the others. The see-through fans are great and the nacelle details excellent.
Again, the colour discussion is later.
5. Nose detail
Just excellent, the flying lady is outstanding, print detail excellent, even down to the shape of the nose dome lines. The cockpit windows look the proper shape and size. The door details are also extremely fine for this scale of model.
7. Tail detail
From a construction and clarity perspective it’s outstanding. Detail is excellent.
You know perfectly well by now that this livery is one hellish thing to get right. In real life it’s expensive, complicated and highly specialised.
The fuselage paint is actually really rather good. Its better than the Gemini, because it lifts the colour resonance higher, and its better than the Phoenix because it’s got the same tendency to reflect its environment, but has a greater depth of pearlescent finish.
So, fuselage wise, the paint in my opinion is the best, a clear winner for now (until the AV400 A35K arrives to potentially dispute it).
The Aubergine metallic used in the logo, is another excellent reproduction, its outstanding colour wise. Again the best.
The tail and engine red, that infamous ‘1966 Candy Apple Red’; is sadly a dud.
The colour is almost right, it is in fact a pearl paint, but for reasons that remain inexplicable it lacks any lacquer, therefore it’s lifeless and optically dead. It appears too bright, and hasn’t the deep lustre that makes it really work.
The Phoenix is passable in most lights except bright daylight. The Gemini is excellent in any light, and remains the leader in the red colouring.
It’s such a good model, to be let down by this short sighted colour inaccuracy – when it’s pretty much the most dominant aspect of the whole scheme? Deeply disappointing. It’s possibly the worst mistake any NG has so far suffered, and the score must and will suffer in consequence.
8. Score and conclusions
- -20 for primary livery colour fail. The red is flat, lifeless and optically dead, a deep disappointment.
No issues, Score 50/50
Overall score 80%
Overall quality is outstanding, most of the paint is the best, but the key component is a matt fail.
If you’re shocked, that’s life. NG isn’t after all infallible. If there was ever a livery that would bring them down to earth this was it. That red is simply not acceptable for a model that cost £44. NG need to do some research, because this just wasn’t good enough.
Overall the model is superb, moulds, the other paint choices all work, but that red is like an undercoat, it just isn’t right. The Phoenix tends to be too pink in bright light and a bit thin, the Gemini is the best still, keeping its colour in any light. But it took them what? 7 years to get it right? It’s not like NG haven’t had plenty of opportunity to see other models, reviews or data.
This is down to poor choices or lack of research. It’s that simple.
I’m disappointed it’s not perfect as it would have taken so little to make it so. Next time perhaps they’ll ask some advice.