Promotional Planes – Part Three

By Fabrizio Panico


Three more models from Premier Planes, British liveries for all of them.

Plastic snap-fit model airplanes have been a long time favourite promotional item of the airline and aircraft manufacturing industries, usually to 1/200 or 1/250 scale, made in China and quite easy to assemble quickly. They come with fully printed airline liveries and with a stand to display them. You can found them at Airport Retail Shops, On-Board In-flight Duty Free Catalogs, Airline Company Stores, Airline Marketing/Promotion Departments.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Boeing 747-400 (1/250 scale by Premier Planes)

The Virgin airline was established in 1984 as British Atlantic Airways to fly from London to the Falkland Islands, but the short runway at Port Stanley Airport precluded such an idea. Sold to Richard Branson it changed name and started operating between Gatwick and Newark using a leased 747-200. Today Virgin Atlantic uses a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, being in 2002 the first airline to operate the A340-600. It has recently completed a re-fit of all its 747 fleet.

The current livery dates from 2010, its “Eurowhite” design features purple billboard titles on the fuselage (also on its underside), and red metallic paint for the aircraft’s tail and engines. On aircraft that have winglets, the wingtips are red, with the Virgin logo on the inside facing passengers on board. Near the nose of each aircraft is a pin-up girl, the “Scarlet Lady”, carrying a Union flag, a tongue-in-cheek challenge to BA‘s traditional role as the UK’s flag carrier. The registration number on the model is G-VAST.

Following its introduction in 1969, the Boeing 747 became a major success with airlines and the flying public. As the world’s first wide-body jetliner, the 747 revolutionised air travel: nicknamed “Jumbo Jet”,. Its first first commercial flight was in 1970 and the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years. By March 2017 more than 1500 aircraft had been built, with more cargo variants still on order. The Boeing 747-400 is a major development and the best-selling model of the 747 family. While retaining the four-engine wide-body layout of its predecessors, technological and structural changes produced a more efficient airframe. Its distinguishing features versus preceding 747 models are 6-foot winglets mounted on 6-foot wing tip extensions. It has a cruise speed of up to 920 km/h and a range up to 13,450 km. It entered in service in 1989, and its production ended in 2007 when it was superseded by the improved 747-8.

British Airways Airbus A380 (1/250 scale by Premier Planes)

British Airways (BA) is the flag carrier and the largest airline in the UK, based on fleet size. BA is a founding member of Oneworld, an airline alliance, its main hub is at the London Heathrow Airport.

BA originated in 1974 from the merger of four previous airlines : BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation), BEA (British European Airways), Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airlines.


A long-time Boeing customer, in 1998 BA ordered a few Airbus A320 family aircrafts and in 2007 it purchased 12 Airbus A380s and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, starting its long-haul fleet replacement with the Boeing 777 as the centrepiece.

Its livery went through many different evolutions: the original one was white fuselage with a dark blue underside, blue engine nacelles, a blue speedbird logo (like the BOAC one) near the cockpit, and the tail design representing a quarter of the Union Jack flag with red tail top. In 1984 after some minor colour changes, the speedbird was replaced by a red speedwing, and the red top tail by a blue one with the BA coats of arms. In 1997 BA adopted a new “Speedmarque” on forward fuselage, but the major change was the introduction of tail-fin art (known as “Utopia” or “world image”) representing countries on BA’s route network. Seen as a move away from the traditional British image of the carrier, they were unpopular with many people in the UK. The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher showed her displeasure at the designs declaring “We fly the British flag, not these awful things.” Virgin Atlantic took advantage of the controversy by applying a Union flag scheme to the front end of its aircraft (to the Scarlet Lady). The model shows a later livery (2011-2014), called “To Fly To Serve Union Flag”, where a crest is added next to titles on the fuselage (white with blue underside), grey wings, blue winglets and engine nacelles. The tail shows one of the old “Utopia” tails (a bit updated), known as “Chatham Dockyard”, initially applied only to the Concorde, a stylised Union flag as flown by Lord Nelson. There is no registration number.

British Airways A380 first service was on August 2013 : it is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner. It is the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft and the upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage. Carbon-fibre is used on key parts of the A380, about 25% of its overall structure is made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic. As already seen in part two (Air France A380), its first flight was in 2007 with Singapore Airlines. Its range is 15.700 km and a cruising speed of 900 km/h. Components’ transportation, assembly methods and all airport services had to be modified due to its extra-large dimensions.

Comparing the Premier Planes A380 to the Socatec one (both 1/250) it is easy to find some small differences, but quite visible is the different shape of the wings junction to the fuselage (same could be said for the tail wings). Which is the most correct one ? or are they two different versions? Maybe a  reader knows the answer?

British Airways Boeing 787-8 (1/200 scale by Premier Planes)

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-haul, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner. It is Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airliner and is a pioneering one with the use of composite materials as the primary material in the construction of its airframe. The 787 Dreamliner’s distinguishing features include extensive electrical flight systems, raked wingtips to improve fuel efficiency, and noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles. The airliner’s maiden flight took place at the end of 2009, with the first delivery in 2011 (launch customer All Nippon Airways). The 787 is the first major commercial airplane to have a composite fuselage, composite wings, and uses composites in most other airframe components. Carbon fibre, unlike metal, does not visibly show cracks and fatigue, prompting concerns about the safety risks of widespread use of the material. The rival Airbus A350 uses composite panels on a frame, a more conventional approach, which its contractors regarded as less risky. The aircraft has suffered from several in-service problems, but the most known concerns fires on board related to its lithium-ion batteries. A FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) directive in January 2013 grounded all 787s in the US and other civil aviation authorities followed suit. After a revised battery design the 787 returned to passenger service later in April.

British Airways has ordered a total of 42 Boeing 787 aircraft, the first of which (a 787-8) arrived in 2013, and the first 787-9 (a stretched version) in 2015. With a typical capacity of 214 passengers and a mach 0.89 speed, it enjoys more comfort thanks to increased humidity, low pressurization and larger windows. The windows are interesting as they have no conventional blinds instead an electrochromic dimming system is used so that the windows can pass gradually from completely transparent to completely obscured.

The model’s livery is similar to the one on the BA A380, but it is missing the crest next to titles on the fuselage : it is a 2000-2011 livery, called “Updated Union Flag”, with the UK titling removed from rear of fuselage and the tail flag enlarged and raised higher on the tail compared to the previous livery, the 1999-2000 “Union Flag / Chatham Royal Dockyard” that replaced the unpopular Utopia scheme. There is no registration number.

Premier Planes is a brand of Premier Portfolio International ( ). This company specialises in supplying products to airlines and airports carrying airlines liveries.

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