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What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Commercial Jet?  
User currently offlineFlyABR From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 646 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32367 times:

Was just thinking about how old the NW fleet of dc9s and dc10s are. Many NW diesel 9s are way over 30 years old. Just how long can commercial jets fly before they need to be retired? And are there govt regs against aircraft being to old for commercial service? Thanks for any info you can provide. I'm kinda new to this game...  Smile

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBoingGoingGone From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32340 times:

The DC-9 was I believe 100,000 cycles. You can't exactly put a life span on it in terms of years. There are too many variables.

User currently offlineFlyABR From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 646 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32329 times:

is that how airlines keep track of maintenance and overall longevity...cycles (takeoffs and landings)...?

User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 47
Reply 3, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32296 times:

I know of no government imposed age limit imposed on aircraft per se. Modern maintennance can theoreticaly keep a plane in the air forever. As noted, it has more to do with hours and/or cycles; there are established airworthiness directives that need to be adhered to. Also, as noted, there are many variables: how many cycles per day, stage length of each cycle, and so on.

User currently offlineBeltwaybandit From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 495 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32289 times:

Manufacturers put an absolute limit (e.g. the 100,000 cycle limit), but I believe that can bump that limit upward.

Cycles are a much more valid measure of wear. Flight hours work the engines, but engines are continually renewed with new disks and life-limited parts. Airframes take a beating on landing and takeoff. Corrosion also takes a toll.


User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 47
Reply 5, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32273 times:

Those Northwest DC-9's, like the USAF B-52's, have been in the air so long, and "rebuilt" so many times that you probably won't find an original rivet or bolt in either of them.

User currently offlineNa From Germany, joined Dec 1999, 10677 posts, RR: 9
Reply 6, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32240 times:

Looking back it appears the 747 is a very longlasting type of aircraft. There are many converted Freighters around that are well past their 30th birthday (a good part of UPS´, Evergreen´s and Kalitta´s fleet). And some pax-747s too were built when the Vietnam war was still reality.
Of cause this has to do with the Jumbo Jet being a longhaul aircraft (the domestic 747s in Japan don´t fly that long) doing less cycles (compression/decompression put huge stress on airframes) than shorthaul aircraft (the NWA DC-9s are a exception here).
In comparison to the 747 most A300s from the 70s have been retired. That most DC-10s and L-1011s have also been retired and many scrapped has also to with them being aircraft of manufacturers no longer existing (and parts in somewhat shorter supply I guess).

While you can expect most of the B747-400s built in the 90s still flying in 2020, and a number of them as converted freighters, for example many of the shorthaul 777-300s serving in Asia will be beercans by then.


User currently offlineBoingGoingGone From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32206 times:

The 747 lasting that long is a result of better utilization. It spends more time flying than it does on the ground. Short haul aircraft can do up to 10 cycles per day or more, a 747 might do 2 or 3. Thus prolonging it's life.

About the NWA DC-9's. They are on their last leg. My father-in-law has been working on the same birds since they were part of Republic. He says they can't get more than another 5-6 years out of them, if they are lucky.


User currently offlineFlyABR From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 646 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 32150 times:

hummmm...if find that hard to believe. NW would have to replace some 150 aircraft then in 6 years time. guess they better get that 717 order in pronto!!

User currently offlineCkfred From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 5211 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 32111 times:

Part of the lifespan depends how the changes in technology. Planes that needed a flight engineer tended to disappear as labor costs increased. After September 11th, most airlines put their 727s on an expedited retirement schedule. American had planned to fly 727s until the end 2004, but they would up being retired by 4/30/02.

A lot of 727s, 737-200s and DC-9s were retired in the late 1990s, because Federal noise regulations required either new engines or hush kits.

Sometimes, an airline may find that a plane simply does not fit well into the fleet. American has not been completely happy with the Fokker 100s. They aren't suited for very short hops, and mechanics find they are more difficult to work on then Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Airbus aircraft. That's why American never exercised its options and has started retiring the Fokkers this year, even though the first Fokkers were delivered in 1991. Add to the fact that parts are difficult to get, because Fokker went out of business.


User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (10 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 32108 times:

Na:

You're forgetting that quite a number of DC-10s are also still in cargo and passenger service.

The DC-3 has been around for nearly 70 years. Douglas designed it to last forever. With proper maintenance and an O2 tank, they'll be flying them on Mars. Big grin

The fact is, there is no real limit to how long an airframe will last if it is properly maintained.



Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
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