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Airliner Generations  
User currently offlineGrantcv From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 430 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2457 times:

I am writing a paper on the history of airliners. How does one divide the evolution of the modern jet airliner into generations? In thinking about it - there seems to have been major advances, every 10-12 years that once in place, changed the design of the airliner forever. And inbetween have been the half-generation planes - not quite making a big enough step to achieve the next milestone.

1st Generation: Turbojet/Turbofan Narrowbodies:
- Comet, Caravelle, DC-8, DC-9, 707, 727, 737, BAC 111, Trident, VC-10, F28, ...
2nd Generation: High-Bypass ratio Widebodies:
- 747, DC-10, L1011, A300
2.5th Generation:
- MD-80
3rd Generation: High-Bypass ratio Narrowbodies, 2-person glass cockpits:
- 757, 767, 737-300/4/5, A310, A300-600, BAe 146
3.5th Generation:
- 747-400, MD-90, MD-95/717, MD-11, F100, 737NG
4th Generation: Fly-By-Wire:
- A320, A330, A340, 777
4.5th Generation:
- A380, A350?, 748
5th Generation: Compositie Barrel Fuselage, all-electric:
- 787, A350?

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCygnusChicago From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 758 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks ago) and read 2407 times:

I think you have a good initial segmentation there. Using a generational framework is certainly pretty clear for the audience of your paper to understand.

That said, maybe you can also investigate alternative frameworks. One example would be using a 2x2 matrix which has engine technology along one axis, and materials of construction along another. So for example, the engine technology would move from turbojet/turbofan to high bypass to bleedless. The materials of construction from Al to Al-Li to including composite materials to GLARE and CFRP fuselages.

Once you have this 2x2 and plotted out the various aircraft along the matrix, you'll find various clusters emerging, and can then do a discussion on each cluster, and how the underlying material and engine technology enabled these aircraft to be built.

I'm not sure if I'd consider a FBW a generation. While it is definitely an advance, it really wasn't big enough to obsolete anything coming before. For example, the FBW 777 and A340 did not obsolete the 744, and the A320 did not obsolete the 737NG. I'm sure many would disagree with me, and that's what will make an interesting analysis in your paper.



If you cannot do the math, your opinion means squat!
User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6921 posts, RR: 76
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2361 times:

Defining generations when it comes to airplanes is quite hard... as they tend to transition from one generation to the next, even with the same type of airplane!

You would need to see what parameters you are using to define the generations or clusters... CygnusChicago said it pretty well... Although I would add navigational & automation advances into it... but don't count retrofit/upgrade, count the "standard equipment".

I also see that FBW is a major development, its use does not render past methods less efficient... developments in autopilot, navigation and flight management has larger implications than the FBW in my opinion... as they have bigger benefits to the airlines in terms of cost savings... As wonderful as FBW is, the cost savings aren't that great to the industry... the application of VNAV has a bigger impact.

So, with all that, the following list is of my personal opinion... and it may even contradict what I said... above.

1. The actual use of a jet engine...
Comet, Caravelle, 707, DC8, CV880, CV990

2nd generation... the initial drive towards segmentation and economy.
727, 732, DC9-10 to -50, BAC111, F28, Trident, Mercure

3rd Generation The use of high-by pass engines, 3D autopilot (eg: HDG/NAV/ALTSEL/VS), Widebodies makes an entry
747, DC-10, L1011, A300, 732A

4th Generation... the FMC era, Advanced 4D autopilot (VNAV)
Narrowbodies: Higher By Pass engines makes an entry
733/4/5, MD80, BAe146, 757, A320, 737NG,

Widebodies... 2 man Crew becomes a reality
744, MD11, A300-600, A310, 767

5th Gen... the networked airplanes.
777, 380

6th Gen... The Bleedless engine... or the drive for hyperefficiency
787, A350, 748i

OK... sorry, can't resist the babling...

Mandala499



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently offlineNDSchu777 From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 419 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 2319 times:

Quoting Mandala499 (Reply 2):
6th Gen... The Bleedless engine... or the drive for hyperefficiency
787, A350, 748i

Hate to nitpick, but the 787 is the only airplane with bleedless engines. The 748i has a modified form of the GEnx that has conventional pneumatic bleed systems and unless anything has changed recently, the A350 will also have bleed systems.


User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6921 posts, RR: 76
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 2302 times:

Quoting NDSchu777 (Reply 3):
Hate to nitpick, but the 787 is the only airplane with bleedless engines. The 748i has a modified form of the GEnx that has conventional pneumatic bleed systems and unless anything has changed recently, the A350 will also have bleed systems.

Hence I wrote...

Quoting Mandala499 (Reply 2):
The Bleedless engine... or the drive for hyperefficiency

It's still early days to see how much better the 748 or the 350 actually will be in comparison with their current contemporaries... so the 6th Gen under my definition is still a bit unclear...

Mandala499



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4341 posts, RR: 35
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2273 times:

Quoting Mandala499 (Reply 2):
1. The actual use of a jet engine...
Comet, Caravelle, 707, DC8, CV880, CV990

2nd generation... the initial drive towards segmentation and economy.
727, 732, DC9-10 to -50, BAC111, F28, Trident, Mercure

That's a good division you made compared to the original poster. There was a huge efficiency gap between say an original Avon engined Caravelle or Comet and a 1985 built 737-200Adv. The latter using about half the fuel compared to the former for instance.
The original pure jet (non fan) engined Comets, Caravelles, 707, DC-8, Cv 880 and also Tu 104, Tu124s were seen as obsolete, TOO noisy and uneconomical already from around 1974 on, after the first oil crisis. While latter models DC-9s, F-28 and 737-200s were a bit noisy but totally acceptable front line airliners til very recently, let's say til 2002.
The technology gap between these two groups is much bigger then between say the two most recent generations you mention.



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6921 posts, RR: 76
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2243 times:

3rd Gen should be:
3rd Generation... 3D autopilot (eg: HDG/NAV/ALTSEL/VS/Speed), Widebodies makes an entry thanks to the use of high-by pass engines
747, DC-10, L1011, A300, 732A/AFCAS


4th should be...
4th Generation... the FMC era, Advanced 3D autopilot (VNAV/Speed Hold function)

Damn, I missed out the 330/340 on the list...
It's likely that the 5th and 6th gens are still under 1 bunch today as they're generally steps towards "super/hyper efficiency"...

Where would the 330/340 go though? The tail end of 4th Gen? or part of 5th?

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 5):
The technology gap between these two groups is much bigger then between say the two most recent generations you mention.

I guess it shows the hazards of trying to determine these things...  Smile

Mandala499



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently offlineGrantcv From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 430 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2130 times:

Quoting Mandala499 (Reply 6):
Where would the 330/340 go though? The tail end of 4th Gen? or part of 5th?

Do the A330/A340 belong to the same generation as the 777? While the twin has certainly damaged the business case for the A340, aren't they otherwise technologically at the same point?

Does the A380 herald a new generation, or does it, for all it size accomplishments, otherwise represent the tail end of the prior generation?

I can't really seeing placing the 748 at the same generational level as the 787 - while it uses some new 787 technologies, it is still otherwise an otherwise older design.

And what about the A350? With what we know, is it a big enough step forward to be a match for the 787 or is it a technological half-step for Airbus as they work to catch up on the technology front after years of focusing on the family building front?


User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6921 posts, RR: 76
Reply 8, posted (7 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2052 times:

Grantcv,
I guess that depends on what's used to define the 5th Gen... the differences between 4th and 5th are mainly somewhere in the avionics.
In the definition I proposed, it's on whether the computers on board are interchangeable with one another, if there's a modular interchangeability etc. But to determine this accurately, one needs to look at the systems on board to see whether the 5th Gen should be a generation, or again, tail end of the 4th... of all that I wrote, I am least comfortable with 4th-5th-6th gen unless I have a deeper look into the books. MEA707 pointed out the difficulty...

The thing with Airbuses, they tend to put in newer technology as standard into older design as time progresses much more than Boeing... this results in say, a 1988 A320 to be relatively different from one in the assembly hall now... But again, how much difference needs to be looked at, after all, it might not be that significant and therefore still belong in the previous generation albeit refined. Boeings seem to do this to a lesser extent... the last few -400s tend to have the FMC and autopilot capability of the NGs but still have the IRS and not the GPIRS... But so far I've assumed these progressions still keep the designs into 1 generation... I'm a bit "worried" that it might not be the case on A330/340 between one built 10 yrs ago and one coming out of the factory now...

As to the 748i... again, it needs to be determined whether the systems built within deserves a separate generation from the 744... albeit the physical attributes of the airplane is largely 30 years old.

Perhaps, since this is your paper... you might be interested to have a look for us  Smile We'd like to see where you put the generation distinction in the end... I'm merely suggesting you the possibilities which you may or may not take in as it is your choice...  Smile

Mandala499



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
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