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Trying To Understand RJs And Fuel Costs.  
User currently offlineFlyboy80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1878 posts, RR: 3
Posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 2367 times:

On a technical level I would really like to understand exactly why the RJ’s aren’t cost effective for the airlines with the current fuel prices in comparison to larger jet aircraft? Is it simply based on a principle that because there are fewer seats, the cost per available seat mile will always be more than an aircraft with 100 plus seats, therefore always costing the airline more when not full? As far as I see it, if a CRJ at 50 seats is full it must be paying for itself and not costing more money than its good for; however I'm still curious if it's still burning more fuel per passenger on say a 600 mile stage compared to an Airbus or Boeing single aisle? Even an RJ with 40/50 seats full is feeding connections at the hub, and therefore must be worth some loss in the long run for some additional gain. Do RJ’s typically have a higher break-even point than a mainline jet (compared to the overall size of the aircraft relative to the percentage of seats sold) on an “average” (lets just say 500-800 miles) stage length? In all honestly I don’t want to mess with crew/ MX costs in this comparison, simply fuel consumption please. Additionally, is it safe to assume that if capacity is indeed the issue, that if there was less capacity in many rural markets, where RJ’s could haul more passengers, then they could potentially increase the load factor and create a smaller loss for the network operation?

3 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23014 posts, RR: 20
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 2334 times:



Quoting Flyboy80 (Thread starter):
On a technical level I would really like to understand exactly why the RJ’s aren’t cost effective for the airlines with the current fuel prices in comparison to larger jet aircraft?

It's an interesting question, because the 320's empty weight is somewhere around 93,000 pounds, or 628 pounds per passenger. The CRJ-200 actually weighs about 30,300 pounds empty, or something like 606 pounds per passenger. Weight is really what leads to fuel burn, other things being equal. So for a hypothetical carrier whose ONLY cost was fuel, I'm not sure they'd be much worse off with a regional jet from that perspective.

One area where 50 seaters do not excel is climb performance, and while I don't have the numbers in front of me, I suspect that the CRJ burns more fuel (per passenger) during climb than the 320, but that's an engineering issue rather than something intrinsic to the aircraft size; I could certainly design a 50-seater with better climb performance (perhaps at the cost of other desirable traits). These points are just some food for thought which may be supplemented by someone with some numbers. The disadvantage of RJs from a cost perspective comes largely from the fact that a lot of non-fuel costs aren't 1/3 the amount of the non-fuel costs of a 738 or 320.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineTdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 79
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 2229 times:



Quoting Flyboy80 (Thread starter):
On a technical level I would really like to understand exactly why the RJ’s aren’t cost effective for the airlines with the current fuel prices in comparison to larger jet aircraft?

It's really really really hard to build a small engine with good SFC, and essentially impossible to match the SFC of larger engines. As a result, RJ's are at a perpetual efficiency disadvantage to larger aircraft.

Tom.


User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2561 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 2076 times:



Quoting Flyboy80 (Thread starter):
On a technical level I would really like to understand exactly why the RJ's aren't cost effective for the airlines with the current fuel prices in comparison to larger jet aircraft?



Quoting Flyboy80 (Thread starter):
In all honestly I don't want to mess with crew/ MX costs in this comparison, simply fuel consumption please.

The problem is that in the real world, you don't (and can't) separate these costs out. That is why RJ's can't compete. With each RJ you're still paying not only for fuel, but crew costs, maintenance, landing fees, ramp workers, gate agents, dispatchers, administrative and executive personnel, insurance, training costs, and more, all of which cost more per passenger on a small RJ than on bigger aircraft. And as Tdscanuck pointed out, the smaller engines have worse specific fuel consumption rates compared to bigger jets, so even if (as Cubsrule said) an RJ weighs less per passenger, you're still burning more fuel.

Using them as feeders is the only reason they ended up in such large numbers to begin with. They were marginal, but in the end were useful. But in today's high-fuel-cost market, even that use has become economically unviable.

You simply can't single out fuel burn, and try to make a case for the RJ's. If you could, they'd still be as popular today as they were back in 2002.

HAL



One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
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