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Back-Up Aircraft - When Airlines Own Fleet Go Tech  
User currently offlineGilesdavies From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 3203 posts, RR: 1
Posted (10 years 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 6732 times:

I would be interested to know what individual airlines policies are when one of their own aircraft go "Tech".

Do they have one of their own aircrafts in standby in case something goes wrong or do they have contracts with charter airlines to provide a back up?

Or do airlines fly on a wing and prayer - and if an aircraft goes tech they will just try and source whatever aircraft is available?

Both these options would be be costly, or is it sometimes just best for the airlines to cancel flights and re-accomodate them on other flights/airlines as a more economical alternative.

I remember last year Euro-Atlantic were operating a Tristar on behalf of British Airways on some of there when one of their 777's or 747's were out of action.

I know for example US Airways' fleet of nine A330's are all being fully utililised this summer and what would they do if one of these goes tech? As they don't have any 767's to fall back on as these are all in use too.

Do airlines like Ryanair and easyJet have back up aircraft? As they operate very tight schedules and known for fully utilising their fleets.

Anyone working in the industry and know their airlines policy would be greatly appreciated...

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 6702 times:

Aircraft do not make any money when they're sitting on the ground as "spares" and consequently, not too many airlines have dedicated spares. A big problem in having them is having them in the right place at the right time, since one never knows when/where an aircraft will go out of service. Having a spare at X isn't much good if the broken aircraft is at Y.

Can't speak for all airlines, but what mine frequently does is to swap aircraft or protect them on other flights. If the offending aircraft is routed ABC-DEF-ABC, and there's a lightly-booked ABC-XYZ-ABC aircraft about the same time with suitable passenger protection on other flights, we'll cancel the ABC-XYZ and XYZ-ABC flights and use that aircraft for the ABC-DEF and DEF-ABC flights. Cancelling the two flights builds a "hole" in the schedule that MX can use to repair the aircraft, so we can plug it back in to the schedule for the rest of the day.

That's just a simplistic example, but the same logic is used irrespective of the length of the repair time, or the number of swaps made. Sometimes, everything is booked full and/or there is no suitable passenger protection, so you fix it, and if that takes N-hours you just run N-hours late.

User currently offlineJorge1812 From Germany, joined Apr 2004, 3153 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 6631 times:

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
Do they have one of their own aircrafts in standby in case something goes wrong or do they have contracts with charter airlines to provide a back up?

Air Berlin (AB) has a back-up aircraft from the own fleet introduced this summer. Think it's no specific a/c, it's more that they always have on a/c sitting on the ground in Germany to have it available whenever the need it. Other carriers might have a contract with different other carriers to lease a plane in very short time.


User currently offlineDYflyer From Norway, joined May 2006, 676 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 6580 times:

I think Norwegian (DY) is also about to get a back-up. According to their Q1 report they are expecting their fleet to be up to 20 planes soon with 19 in operation.

http://www.norwegian.no/sw22438.asp (in norwegian).

The last plane will probably be part back-up and part charter.

Life is like a book. If you don't travel, you only read one page.
User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6561 times:

The larger airlines can normally reschedule aircraft as OPLNGuy said above, or perhaps even speed up maintenance on aircraft in the hangars or even delay an aircraft scheduled for maintenance. Smaller airlines often have agreement with charter/specialist airlines whereby they can quickly obtain one of their planes to supplement their own fleet.

Of course, it would be economic suicide for any airline to have planes at various outposts sitting around in case of disruptions to schedules.

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineStarGoldLHR From Heard and McDonald Islands, joined Feb 2004, 1529 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6510 times:

Sometimes airlines can lease from another company whan an Aircraft is sitting on the ground for a while...

Qantas has leant its 747's on occasions during the long layover at LHR.

Also is an Aircraft is out of service for scheduled MX, it may be out for 24 hours, but the check over takes a man day 8 Hours.. therefore this can be re-called earlier..

I know bmi have done this with the A330 in MAN a few years back.

Also various operators have aircraft sitting about between work scattered across europe.. and its bound to be true across the world.

Air Pullmantur have offered their 747's on occasions for replacement Tech aircraft on european flights.

Other times.. it's just late... 6 hours, 12 hours, 2 days whatever...

I famously remember in 2002 a 747 belonging to UA from SYD-SFO was damaged in turbulance over New Zealand. The A/C landed at Auckland and the passengers went to hotel over night whilst a replacement was flown from SFO.

Next morning they boarded and took off for the replacement to suffer engine problems and return to Auckland. The passengers overnighted a second night.

The third morning they took off in the now repaired first aircraft and arrived 2.5 days late in SFO.. with a refund and free anywhere worldwide first class ticket for two.

So far in 2008 45 flights and Gold already. JFK, IAD, LGA, SIN, HKG, NRT, AKL, PPT, LAX still to book ! Home Airport LCY
User currently offlineLeezyjet From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 4053 posts, RR: 52
Reply 6, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6434 times:

We just a/c swap or delay a flight overnight and operate the next day depending on the situation.

The a/c will normally get swapped around, within the same fleet and there is one particular route that even though it may not be the one with the problem will normally be the one that cops the overnight delay purely because of the a/c's schedule and that the a/c on that route can delay for 12 hours, operate the route and then be back on schedule again for its return flight that evening. Alternatively the a/c will be swapped around to put the problem onto a destination that has multiple flights each day so that pax can be accomodated on the other services.

We cannot normally interchange between fleets on most routes as there will not be a crew down route to bring the a/c back. The only routes where this can be possible is JFK/EWR as both types are operated there so there will always be a crew from both fleets available to bring the a/c back.

We have not used another airline to operate one of our own flights for a number of years now (excluding the route that was operated by Air Atlanta until last year). We have always been able to re-accomodate passengers on other carriers or on our own services.

Obviously this depends on the situation on the day.


"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
User currently offlineHT From Germany, joined May 2005, 6526 posts, RR: 19
Reply 7, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 6228 times:

In 2005, HF had a A306 leased from LH stationed as backup-a/c sitting at HF´s HAJ-base. However, to my knowledge, it sparsely was also assigned to carryout regular flights. That very a/c is no longer with HF, as also all A310 have gone and HF (including HLX/X3 ) now operates a pure B737s fleet (with the B738W being the backbone).
From what I´ve heard, one of the B738s will be employed to serve as the backup a/c this summer (= busy charter season in Europe).
Furthermore HF/HLX can also get or lend planes from/to the other carriers within TUI Group; among others, Corsair has been seen to carry out flights to HAJ for HF.

Carpe diem ! Life is too short to waste your time ! Keep in mind, that today is the first day of the rest of your life !
User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 5283 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 6146 times:

Most airlines only utilize their aircraft about 16 hours a day.... that leaves 8 hours for aircraft to be switched around, re routed etc... this is not always possible due to nighttime curfews at some airports, but it does usually allow the problem to be solved with passengers usually only suffering a 2 hour delay.

56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineEK413 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5442 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 6102 times:

Its pretty straight forward....When an aircraft is delayed due to technical reasons the airline either..... Smile
A) Transfers pax to another flight operating the same sector...OR
B) Replace the aircraft with another aircraft which will be operating another sector at a later departure time with the intensions that aircraft with the technical problem will be resolved in time to replace that aircraft.... Wink
I hope this makes sense....It does to me!  Smile


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight’s entertainment!
User currently offlineN801NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 744 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 6068 times:

Of the four ex-DL 767-300's HA just bought, one will be reserved as an operational spare. The 300ER's apparently were scheduled to capacity and it something went wrong...

User currently offlineHarrisAir From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 59 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 6053 times:

From the daily OPS reports for AS, they usually have 2 or 3 spares in SEA and 1 in ANC. May 10 for example shows 1 737, 3 MD in SEA, 1 732 in ANC.


User currently offlineBestpilot From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 100 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 5996 times:

BA has a spare 744 in LHR.

User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4354 posts, RR: 33
Reply 13, posted (10 years 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 5887 times:

Quoting Bestpilot (Reply 12):
BA has a spare 744 in LHR.

On a normal day BA will have a B744 a B777 a B767 and two Airbuses at LHR and a B737 at LGW. These aircraft are not scheduled for operation or maintenance. They get used regularly. Also with say 20 B744 on the ground at once, it is easy to change the departure order if one aircraft needs more maintenance. It is a rare day when the plan is followed.
Only yesterday a B757 needed maintenance at 1000 at LHR, so the BA778 was operated by a spare B767.

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