Airbus A330-900neo 1:400 Scale New Mould Sample
Modified: September 2022
Aviation400 focus is on the most modern aircraft in service, particularly Airbuses, and so with existing moulds for the 777-300ER, 787-9, A330-200/300, A340-300, A350-900/1000 and A380 it is little surprise that they also are now taking a swing at the A330-900neo. I reported on this originally back in June but come September and a first sample is now available, which AV400 has been kind enough to send through to me.
The Real Thing
The aircraft itself is basically a standard A330 with a redesigned wing and the giant new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. The new sharklets on the wing bear a strong resemblance to those fitted to the A350.
A330-900 Moulds in 400 Scale
There are two existing moulds for the longer version of the A330neo, by Phoenix and JC Wings / Gemini respectively. I took a detailed look at the competition in this space back in August 2020 and the reviews are still valid:
My analsis determined that the JC Wings mould was superior to the Phoenix version overall, but wasn't itself without some issues. The Phoenix version wasn't awful but had lots of detail fails and one big issue (winglet shape and size). In general the highs and lows of each looked like this:
A330-900 Release Options
There's no denying that sales of the A330neo have been somewhat disappointing, but obviously the Pandemic and sizeable fleets of young Airbus A330s can be held accountable for some of that. Interestingly, even though there are orders for less than 300 of the type and only around 80 are in service there is a significant number of operators. This is due to the majority of operators flying only a small number of aircraft. Only Delta (15) and TAP (19) operate over 6 frames.
Looking at the table to the left you can see that although coverage of the A330-900 by the two existing moulds has been quite good there are still several gaps - most noticeably Air Senegal, Corsair Int, Sunclass and now Virgin too.
It is interesting that Phoenix and JC Wings / Gemini both have a monopoly on several of the operators - most notably Azul, Delta and TAP.
Clearly there is room for the AV400 mould especially due to the relative weakness of the Phoenix version and the order book, which will no doubt increase over the next decade.
A330-900 Mould Sample
In this review I will go over the AV400 sample in the same way as I did for the other two and score it similarly. That way at the end there should be a comparable score from which to directly compare to the earlier moulds.
NOSE / NOSEGEAR
This is a tough area to judge without there being any cockpit or windowline printing. Aviation400 have sent me through some of the CAD schematics they created to model the nose and with the cockpit windows added in it does look accurate. It is a definite improvement on their old A330 nose.
I am less happy with the nosegear, which although finely built and well detailed is I think very slightly too short. This has been an issue with the AV400 standard A330s also and in comparison with both the JC Wings and Phoenix versions below the AV400 sample sits lower when A330s have quite long gear legs. Additionally the forward prongs should be beneath the nosegear door. I am also not loving the nosegear tyre hub, which appears to be too small. I prefer the JC Wings nosegear myself. In comparison to the Phoenix nosegear the gear leg is better but the Phoenix nosegear door is way too large.
I have suggested the following minor modifications to the nosegear and Aviation400 have told me that they will produce a new set of gears for this mould:
ENGINES & PYLONS / MAINGEAR
The engine nacelle shape is excellent as is the hot section exhausts. I'm also liking the engine pylons, which are as nice as those on the JC Wings version and a much superior shape to the Phoenix edition. They show the unusual slightly splayed join to the engine nacelle rear well although as with the JC it is perhaps sligtly too close to the hot sections. The attractive curve upwards under the wing to fix atop the nacelle forward looks great.
The maingear is less successful. The maingear tyres seem a little small and don't have any detailing between the tyres. The JC Wings mould has pivoting maingear whereas this version does not. Additionally the shape of the maingear doors is inaccurate. The forward under portion isn't long enough and the sharp triangular forward edge is not pointed enough.
I have suggested the following changes to the maingear:
The sample comes with rotating fanblades and hollowcore engines. The fanblades look excellent in terms of size and shape while still preserving the see through effect. The only problem appears to be that they are the wrong way around. On the real engines the blades curve in an anti-clockwise fashion but on this model they seem to curve in a clockwise direction. AV400 have confirmed they will modify this.
FLAPS & SHARKLETS
This is the biggest weakness of the Phoenix mould but it proves no problem here for the AV400 example, which has beautifully curved but still sharply tapering Sharklets. In addition the flap track fairings are correctly squared off at their rear.
TAIL & TAILCONE
No problems present themselves at the tail end. The vertical stabiliser has a nice curve at its forward upper edge and a good tall rudder. The tailcone and horizontal stabilisers are also good.
This is the achilles heal of the JC Wings mould and I'm glad to see that AV400 have not got the same issues as it does. The below photos also illustrate how small the winglets are on the Phoenix.
This A330neo sample is very good and with slight modifications to the landing gear and fixing the fanblade orientation it ought to comfortably out compete the good JC Wings version. The Phoenix mould brings up the rear by some distance.
To conclude the improvements I would like to see are:
Aviation400 have confirmed they will be modifying the fanblades and producing new undercarriage for the type.