Ansett Australia - Boeing 747-400
Today we look at Spaceship that visited Asia before deciding to retire in the South Pacific on a tropical island.
I recently turned 30 and decided to go hunting through my collection to look for an aircraft that would turn 30 in 2019. I managed to find one that is no longer in service in the real world but further investigations found I also have a model of this aircraft later in it's life.
The Real Deal
The aircraft is question is Ansett Australia's Boeing 747-400 VH-ANA which first flew as N6005C on February 6, 1989 after being ordered for Singapore Airlines.
N6005C was registered 9V-SMB and delivered to Singapore Airlines in March 1989 and served with the Singaporean national carrier from 1989 until August 1999, when it was repainted and prepared for a life Down Under. 9V-SMB was leased to Australian carrier Ansett Australia.
9V-SMB became VH-ANA and was repainted in to Ansett Australia colours in August 1999. The aircraft was painted with Sydney 2000 on the rear of the aircraft to promote the airline's status as the Official Airline of the Sydney Olympic Games. Ansett referred to the Boeing 747's as Spaceships due to the business class that was fitted to both the -300 and -400 series aircraft.
This sponsorship caused a decent amount of controversy with Ansett suing fellow Australian airline Qantas in the lead up to the Olympic Games in Sydney with claims that Qantas was using ambush marketing to convince the general public that Qantas, not Ansett was the offical airline.
A news article from The Guardian at the time stated "Lawyers for Ansett are claiming that Qantas is in breach of laws designed to protect sponsors. Under the rules, Qantas has to avoid any mention of the Olympic Games in its ads. But Ansett is claiming Qantas ads give the false impression that the airline is an official sponsor, and is taking the airline to the Australian Federal Court. As early as 1997, Qantas began to run ads starring Australian athletes, many of them Olympic champions or contenders, with the theme, "Flying towards 2000". A survey conducted in Australia showed that 40% of respondents believed Qantas was an official sponsor."
That aside, VH-ANA entered service with Ansett on AN888 from Hong Kong to Sydney on August 11, 1999. VH-ANA had the privilege of operating a special flight from Sydney to Melbourne just after the Sydney Olympics with all Australian Olympians who had won medals for a celebratory parade. VH-ANA wore the Olympic titles until September 2001.
The aircraft continued to serve with Ansett until the collapse of the airline in September 2001. VH-ANA was ferried back to Singapore in November 2001 and returned to Singapore Airlines as 9V-SMB where it served with them until 2003 when it was leased and repainted for it's next assignment.
The next assignment for this aircraft was the sunny South Pacific island of Fiji where it would serve with Air Pacific as DQ-FJL.
DQ-FJL entered service with Air Pacific in June 2003 and was named "Island of Viti Levu" and was painted in the standard Air Pacific colours with a photograph of an island painted on each side. The islands on the side of the aircraft were different on each side.
Air Pacific repainted the aircraft in early 2009 to the standard Air Pacific paint scheme minus the islands until DQ-FJL was retired from service in July 2013 when the airline rebranding itself as Fiji Airways and replacing the 747s that were in service with Airbus A330-200s.
DQ-FJL left Fiji on July 18, 2013 and reached it's final resting place Tupelo, Mississippi the following day. The aircraft was scrapped in December 2013.
The Collectors Item
I am lucky enough to have a copy of this aircraft in three of liveries that it wore during it's service. I have Ansett 747-400 and the two Air Pacific liveries, with and without islands. The Ansett and Air Pacific "Islands" were both made by Phoenix while the standard Air Pacific was manufactured by Witty Wings.
The two Phoenix Models were made on different moulds with Air Pacific version looking much better than the Ansett.
Witty Wings were the only company to make the Air Pacific standard livery with both Dragon and Phoenix making the Islands livery. The Air Pacific models are available on eBay for reasonable prices if you look in the right spot.
The two Air Pacific models were released 9 years apart with the Phoenix version hitting shelves in 2003 while the Witty Wings version came to fruition in 2012
The Ansett 747-400 with Sydney titles were made by four manufacturers, Netmodels, Phoenix, Twin Star (which is the same as the Dragon) and the original Big Bird. I only have the one copy so I can't comment on which version is best but the Phoenix is the most modern with rolling wheels and antennas on it. Many versions of VH-ANA are floating around on eBay and can be snapped up at a decent price.
The Phoenix VH-ANA was released in 2009 along with VH-ANB in the standard Ansett livery.