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Will There Be A A320 Combi?  
User currently offlineAccrazy From Germany, joined Jun 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 4802 times:

Hi there,
today I just mused about an A320 COMBI. When Airbus/EFW and its partners will finally convert the first A320 to a freighter in the "P2F" program and also considers a "G2F" (green to freighter, from new build a/c), would it than not make sense to consider a combi version? I got that idea when I saw a picture from the Oman Air Force A320, which replaces a BAC1-11 COMBI. So, would there be a market? Maybe, to stay with the military option, even with the Indian Airlines double boogie gear for rough airstrips?
Has maybe anybody heard of something, maybe from the Airbus think tanks?

27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBobnwa From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 6464 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 4793 times:



Quoting Accrazy (Thread starter):
Has maybe anybody heard of something, maybe from the Airbus think tanks?

I don't believe Airbus would build it and I don't think any airline would want it.


User currently offlineYXD172 From Canada, joined Feb 2008, 449 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 4596 times:

I believe the current FAA regulations for new combi designs with passengers and freight on the same deck make it cost prohibitive to introduce a new combi, at least in the USA. Other countries probably have similar regulations. No, I don't think we'll see an A320Ccombi anytime soon  Sad

Jon



Radial engines don't leak oil, they are just marking their territory!
User currently offlineKristiaanD From Netherlands, joined Jun 2009, 43 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4545 times:
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When I remember it correctly, the FAA regulation disallow every new COMBI design where the PAX and cargo area are on the same deck.

I would also assume that the A320 body is way to small to make it profitable.

But, correct me when wrong!

[Edited 2009-06-20 10:25:35]


"The airport runway is the most important mainstreet in any town." -Quoted from : Norm Crabtree.
User currently offlineSancho99504 From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 569 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4522 times:



Quoting KristiaanD (Reply 3):
When I remember it correctly, the FAA regulation disallow every new COMBI design where the PAX and cargo area are on the same deck.

I would also assume that the A320 body is way to small to make it profitable.

But, correct me when wrong!

I thought AS is operating a few 737-400 combi's as well as a 737-400 pure freighter that they had the conversions done on? As far as being to small to be profitable, what about all the 727 and 737 freighters that are out there? The A320 is not only wider, but has a longer fuselage than the 737-200/300 freighters that are out there, as well as it's wider than the 727, but I don't think quite as long as either 100 or 200 model 727.



kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out-USMC
User currently offlineBmacleod From Canada, joined Aug 2001, 2260 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4505 times:

Just can't see how a A320 would be fitted into a combi version. As stated above, the FAA won't allow new airliner designs to be combi versions and the A320 is a big player in the US market.

Don't think it would be received better in Europe maybe Asia though...



The engine is the heart of an airplane, but the pilot is its soul.
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30884 posts, RR: 86
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4459 times:
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Quoting KristiaanD (Reply 3):
When I remember it correctly, the FAA regulation disallow every new COMBI design where the PAX and cargo area are on the same deck.

I believe the FAA requires an immovable barrier between the passenger and cargo areas sufficiently strong to withstand a fire in the cargo area.

Boeing launched the 737-700C combi in 1997, but has sold precious few (almost all to the US Navy), so I imagine the demand is just not there.



Quoting Sancho99504 (Reply 4):
I thought AS is operating a few 737-400 combi's as well as a 737-400 pure freighter that they had the conversions done on?

Correct. They replaced their 737-200C aircraft. However, I believe the 737-400C have the fixed barrier, which was not the case with the 737-200C.


User currently onlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9281 posts, RR: 29
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4455 times:

There is simply no market to justify the development costs for a combi, besides from regulative burdens.

In Europe, there is a clear market distinction between overnight express cargo which is mostly flown, belly load on a massive amount of daily passenger flights and road feeder services which carry the bulk of transit air cargo. Plus, on distanmces up to 1000 km express road services outside airline handling has become a major player as well.

Combi might be needed in places like Canada or Alaska to serve cities in remote areas with few population but no other feasible connection. That is a a too small market.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineSancho99504 From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 569 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4436 times:



Quoting Stitch (Reply 6):
Correct. They replaced their 737-200C aircraft. However, I believe the 737-400C have the fixed barrier, which was not the case with the 737-200C.

That's what I was thinking, but it is still possible to have combis.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 7):
There is simply no market to justify the development costs for a combi, besides from regulative burdens.

I don't think it would take too much of cost to retrofit existing frames to combis or pure freighters at all. I mean there are a lot of Airbus frames that have been successfully converted to pure freighters, and I'm pretty sure the A320C/F would be more or less in the cards with 5X or FX than anyone else, unless AS ever goes to Airbus.



kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out-USMC
User currently offlineCanadianNorth From Canada, joined Aug 2002, 3389 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4349 times:



Quoting KristiaanD (Reply 3):
When I remember it correctly, the FAA regulation disallow every new COMBI design where the PAX and cargo area are on the same deck.



Quoting Sancho99504 (Reply 4):
what about all the 727 and 737 freighters that are out there?



Quoting Bmacleod (Reply 5):
Just can't see how a A320 would be fitted into a combi version. As stated above, the FAA won't allow new airliner designs to be combi versions and the A320 is a big player in the US market.



Quoting Stitch (Reply 6):
I believe the FAA requires an immovable barrier between the passenger and cargo areas sufficiently strong to withstand a fire in the cargo area.

As far as I know Stitch is correct. New combis are allowed, but the bulkhead between pax and cargo must be a fixed/smokeproof/etc barrier, which drastically limits the versatility when compared to the older 727/737/etc combis which have a moveable bulkhead to easily accomodate varying pax/cargo ratios.

This is one of the main disadvantages of a new combi, along with the fact that many places in Northern Canada and the like still have gravel runways. 737-200s can be set up to handle gravel runways, 737NGs and A320s can't. Plus the cost factor, a 737-200C is significantly cheaper to purchase than a 737NG or A320.


CanadianNorth



What could possibly go wrong?
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31679 posts, RR: 56
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4164 times:

Maybe a A321 Freighter would be in better demand.
regds
MEL.



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineAccrazy From Germany, joined Jun 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3775 times:

First of all, thanks for the interesting and informative discussion (especially the certification issues).
So, what do you think about a “Quick-Change” version? As far as I could found out, the A320/321P2F are all freighters only.


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30884 posts, RR: 86
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3773 times:
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Quoting Accrazy (Reply 11):
So, what do you think about a “Quick-Change” version?

New-build "Quick Change" aircraft are no longer allowed under regulations. The passenger and cargo sections must remain permanently separated and of a fixed size.


User currently offlineDitzyboy From Australia, joined Feb 2008, 717 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3660 times:



Quoting Stitch (Reply 12):
New-build "Quick Change" aircraft are no longer allowed under regulations.

Quick-Change or Combi?


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30884 posts, RR: 86
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3660 times:
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Quoting Ditzyboy (Reply 13):
Quick-Change or Combi?

Well I define a "Quick Change" aircraft as one that can have it's cabin converted to carry passengers or palletized/containerized freight as necessary to accommodate changes in the number of passengers or amount of freight needing to be carried on that flight. And that is no longer allowed for new-build planes.

And I define a "combi" as a plane with separate areas for passengers and palletized/containerized freight separated by an immovable barrier which means these areas cannot be adjusted as necessary should there be a need to carry more or less passengers or freight.


User currently offlineFX1816 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1400 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3660 times:



Quoting Sancho99504 (Reply 8):
I don't think it would take too much of cost to retrofit existing frames to combis or pure freighters at all. I mean there are a lot of Airbus frames that have been successfully converted to pure freighters, and I'm pretty sure the A320C/F would be more or less in the cards with 5X or FX than anyone else, unless AS ever goes to Airbus.

I believe that it would be quite costly to retro fit an A320 into cargo as the current flying A320's most likely do not have the extra reinforced floor that would be needed to make it a freighter. But what I think the OP was getting at was what about an A320 Combi (Where the front half is cargo and the back half PAX). That would be very costly and not worth it. I believe AS gets away with having a couple of Combi AIrcraft in the fleet because the markets up in the state of Alaska could/can support that. I don't think a Combi aircraft is really ever useful in the Continental US.

FX1816


User currently offlinePellegrine From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2425 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3660 times:



Quoting CanadianNorth (Reply 9):
737-200s can be set up to handle gravel runways, 737NGs and A320s can't.

Why exactly is this? Different landing gear is needed?



oh boy!!!
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25117 posts, RR: 22
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3604 times:



Quoting Pellegrine (Reply 16):
Quoting CanadianNorth (Reply 9):
737-200s can be set up to handle gravel runways, 737NGs and A320s can't.

Why exactly is this? Different landing gear is needed?

Boeing offered optional gravel runway equipment on 737-200s. Most of those ordered with that equipment were -200C combis. Some aircraft were later retro-fitted. It includes gravel deflectors on the nosegear and bleed air nozzles attached to the front of the engines that reduce the risk of gravel and other debris being ingested into the engines. They also have a retractable rotating beacon on the lower fuselage (retracted during takeoff and landing on gravel runways to redcuce the risk of breakage from flying stones). I believe they also have heavy duty tires and brakes, and a special type of Teflon paint on the lower wings/fuselage that reduces chipping from flying stones etc. There may be a few other things in the gravel runway option but I think those are the major ones.

You can see the nosegear gravel deflector and engine bleed air nozzles attached to the bottom of the engine nacelles in the following photos of the following 732 combis that operate in northern Canada to various airports and private airstrips serving mines etc. with gravel runways.


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Photo © Peter Nowacki
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Photo © Gilbert Hechema



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Photo © Ian Beatty
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Photo © Gilbert Hechema



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Photo © Ivan Kresanek - Contrails Aviation Photography
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Photo © Ivan Kresanek - Contrails Aviation Photography



Video of a Canadian North 732 combi landing on the 5,000 ft. gravel runway at Cambridge Bay (YCB), population 1,500, in the Canadian Arctic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-8OIEPB9ZE


User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4537 posts, RR: 41
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 3551 times:



Quoting Stitch (Reply 14):
Well I define a "Quick Change" aircraft as one that can have it's cabin converted to carry passengers or palletized/containerized freight as necessary to accommodate changes in the number of passengers or amount of freight needing to be carried on that flight. And that is no longer allowed for new-build planes.

In my very limited experience with QC aircraft, I've seen them used either with all cargo or all passenger layouts. I was under the impression the certification problem was to do with barriers between the passenger and cargo compartments, and as such doesn't affect an aircraft which can be changed between all-passenger and all-freight configuration. I don't suppose you know the reference to the regulation this is covered in? Is it an aircraft certification issue under part 25, or an airline operation issue under part 121?

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlinePellegrine From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2425 posts, RR: 8
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 3543 times:



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 17):
Boeing offered optional gravel runway equipment on 737-200s.

Thank you. To me all of these changes seem very minimal. This begs the question, can the same modifications be made to 737NG and A320 if requested and paid for? 732s certainly aren't going to last forever.



oh boy!!!
User currently onlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15730 posts, RR: 26
Reply 20, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 3526 times:



Quoting Pellegrine (Reply 19):
Thank you. To me all of these changes seem very minimal. This begs the question, can the same modifications be made to 737NG and A320 if requested and paid for? 732s certainly aren't going to last forever.

I don't think so as the 737NG sits too low to the ground. All of the AS destinations with gravel runways paved them when the Mudhens were retired. Also, I think that an A320F would be a bit less practical because they sit higher off of the ground and I should think that the landing gear would be tougher to upgrade.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineAccrazy From Germany, joined Jun 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 3484 times:

Quoting CanadianNorth (Reply 9):
737-200s can be set up to handle gravel runways, 737NGs and A320s can't

As mentioned in my original statement, there are a very few A320, in use with Indian Airlines, with double boogie gear, which are thought to be used on "unpaved" airstrips. However, these option is still certified and therefore available for e.g. A320G(reen)2F. see e.g.:


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Photo © Norman Yusof
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Photo © Hediye



[Edited 2009-06-26 00:50:17]

User currently onlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15730 posts, RR: 26
Reply 22, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 3466 times:



Quoting Accrazy (Reply 21):
As mentioned in my original statement, there are a very few A320, in use with Indian Airlines, with double boogie gear, which are thought to be used on "unpaved" airstrips. However, these option is still certified and therefore available for e.g. A320G(reen)2F. see e.g.:

Is that really for gravel runways or just lower quality runways? In some third world countries and especially airports in the former Soviet Union, the runways are somewhat softer and less durable. If you look at any Soviet aircraft, it will most likely have larger wheels and/or more wheels that a western aircraft of similar size and weight.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineDitzyboy From Australia, joined Feb 2008, 717 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3441 times:



Quoting Stitch (Reply 14):
Well I define a "Quick Change" aircraft as one that can have it's cabin converted to carry passengers or palletized/containerized freight as necessary to accommodate changes in the number of passengers or amount of freight needing to be carried on that flight. And that is no longer allowed for new-build planes.

QC aircraft operate in either pax OR freight mode - never both. To do both at once makes it a Combi, as you said. I have never heard of a Quick-Change Combi. Previous combis were quick-change by nature.

Boeing markets the 73G-QC, no? The regulations you speak of are for new build Combi aircraft with BOTH pax and cargo on the main deck. This is different to a QC aircraft. Combi aircraft now need a fixed barrier between pax and cargo - making them much less versatile and more costly to operate due to the weight of the reinforced bulkhead, among other things.


User currently onlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15730 posts, RR: 26
Reply 24, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3417 times:



Quoting Ditzyboy (Reply 23):
QC aircraft operate in either pax OR freight mode - never both. To do both at once makes it a Combi, as you said. I have never heard of a Quick-Change Combi. Previous combis were quick-change by nature.

I think that you are right. Under the old rules, a QC plane could be operated as a Combi, and this is exactly what AS did. Now however, you may have a QC or a Combi.

It may be possible, technically, to have a Combi that is also a QC, switching out the seats for a second cargo compartment with the bulkhead between or having an all pax configuration divided by a solid bulkhead. This of course is impractical, since it would require two cargo doors, two pax entry doors to be used and two sets of galleys and lavs, but it would be legal under the new rules unless I'm mistaken.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
25 Aircanada014 : First Air from northern territory had their B737s as B737C..
26 Stitch : Thank you for explaining it more eloquently than I had. So yes, a "quick change" where the entire main deck can be configured as needed solely to pas
27 Post contains links Viscount724 : This what the current regulations for new aircraft types will no longer permit, and it completely destroys the flexibility of the previous combi conc
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