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How Old Is Too Old?  
User currently offlineSv7887 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 1025 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 1 month 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 3427 times:

Hello All,
A few days ago a Northwest DC-10-30 returned to Logan Airport in Boston due to Engine Fire. Now, this may have nothing to do with the A/c's age, but it made me think: How old is too old for a passenger airliner?
I realize there is more to this than simply age. Hours on the airframe is probably the bigger factor as mileage is on an autmobile.

Your thoughts would be appreciated,
SV

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5767 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (11 years 1 month 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 3407 times:

Well, it's like this, in my mind.

There is no age too old for an airplane. Usually.
For example, there are DC-3's that are 60 years old still making nostalgia flights in civilized countries, and scheduled flights in countries... less civilized.

However, we all know that metal DOES age and crack- witness the Aloha 737 incident in Hawaii. Also, wiring ages- witness the Swissair MD-11 incident over Nova Scotia. That might not be the best example, though, as that MD-11 was not yet ten years old at the time.

SO- if PROPERLY MAINTAINED, there is no age too old for an aircraft. But I don't think the families of the dead flight attendant from Hawaii could be convinced of that.

Midwest is flying the second DC-9 ever produced- it rolled down the lane at Long Beach in 1966. It's safe. It's not on fire.

Engine fires happen, unfortunately. And, as you pointed out, have little to do with the age of the airframe.

So I guess the answer is one you have to form yourself.

R


User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (11 years 1 month 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 3407 times:

Depends on how many cycles the a/c has completed. Too old would be when it gets to the point where the plane is aflling apart or has major structural problems- like the Aloha 737-200 that lost part of it's cabin roof. I don't really consider a DC-10-30 to be too old to be flying. Maybe a 707 still in pax service, now that would be too old.

User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 18
Reply 3, posted (11 years 1 month 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 3333 times:

If properly maintained they can continue a long time. And there are still 707s in passenger service today (and not properly maintained) in Africa.

An engine fire can happen to any aircraft. Maybe they had a birdstrike, or fuel contamination, or whatever.

I remember a brandnew A320 crashing in Paris. Noone said that was too old...



I wish I were flying
User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (11 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 3202 times:

I remember a brandnew A320 crashing in Paris. Noone said that was too old...


Yeah that's because the pilots flew it into the trees, otherwise known as CFIT.


User currently offlineYoungDon From United States of America, joined May 2001, 407 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 3197 times:

NW has many DC9s that are more than 30 years old, and they are still flying safely. Up until a couple of years ago, there were quite a few older 727's and 737's in the air, and they flew safely. But hours on the airframe is a much better indicator than age. But airplanes that are properly maintained can fly for almost forever.

Don


User currently offlineSJCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 579 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3125 times:

If I'm not mistaken, also, some of NW's DC10's were produced in the mid 80's?

SJCguy


User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 3075 times:

Doesn't Aloha still operate the 737-200? They are some of the oldest 737s out there.

User currently offlineJETPILOT From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3130 posts, RR: 29
Reply 8, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 3071 times:

As long as an aircraft is maintained it can fly forever.

The reasons airplanes are retired is not becuase they are too old to fly, it's because of the economic impact of maintaining an aging airframe.

I currently fly a 1964 727-100. TWA retired the plane in 1982. Heck... they just broke it in.

Just take a look at the DC8. More than half are still flying. The oldest flying DC8 has 58,000 cycles on it. The design lifetime on the DC8 is 100,000 cycles.

A plane gets cut up once the bank has made it's money leasing it, and decides its cost proibitive to put it through a D-Check, and gets it's money out of it by cutting it up and selling it for spares.

That's why L10-11's arent flying around as cargo planes. Corrosion issues, and a wing spar AD mod have made it prohibitive to invest the bucks to keep it airworhty, so they cut it up. You can't make money with an L1011 as you can with a DC10. Maintenance is a nightmare.

BTW... there is still a DC3 making scheduled serviceinto MIA everyday.

JET







User currently offlineWoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1032 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2994 times:

You know the B-52's will be over 90 years old when they are scheduled for retirement at 2035/2040.

Cheers  Smile
Woodreau / KMVL



Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlineJBirdAV8r From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 4489 posts, RR: 21
Reply 10, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2963 times:

Yeah that's because the pilots flew it into the trees

I'm no expert on the Mulhouse crash, but I believe it was more of an issue of the flight crew not having sufficient knowledge of a brand-new airplane system (and I think I remember hearing about some sort of bug in the Alpha-floor system) than simply a negligent flight crew letting their airplane carelessly thunk into the trees.

JETPILOT, as a side note to your comments, I've heard that UPS maintains their DC-8's to an unbelievably good condition...almost better than new. They always have the prettiest DC-8's on the tarmac, and they look like they have quite a bit of attention paid to them at all times.



I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
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