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What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?  
User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 6942 posts, RR: 18
Posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 5651 times:

If you know me well enough, you all know I know more about Boeing than Airbus, BUT not to begin a B&A war here, I feel like I don't quite know why the A318 didn't sell as good as its competitors (albeit better than the 736, IIRC, right?) What was the achilles heel of this aircraft? Why were many airlines opting for the E series or other comparable airplanes versus this one?

Sorry for the ignorant thread but I really have no clue.

Cheers    PHX787


One of the FB admins for PHX Spotters. "Zach the Expat!"
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineU2380 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2010, 321 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5611 times:

I'm no expect, in any sense of the word, however I believe that part of the original issue was that the P&W engine selected for the aircraft under-performed massively. That lost it a few orders. Combine that with the high level of competition in that regional jet area and a shrink of a shrink just isn't going to cut the mustard.

I'm sure there is much more to it that that though.


User currently offlineMHG From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 756 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5581 times:

Simply put the A 318 is too much overweight in relation to the number of passengers carried.
When the A320 family was designed (an A318 was not considered at the very beginning IIRC) a certain fuselage strength was built to withstand all defined stresses/forces of that 319/320/321 family with a defined safety margin for the expected aircraft weights.

When Airbus decided to go ahead with the A 318 they were trying to offer something below the 319 to existing 320series customers anticipating that crew/maintenance/operational commonality with the other siblings of the family would at least offset the higher cost due to - relative to other aircraft with comparable seatcapacity - higher fuelburn/higher landing fees/etc.
But most existing A320series customers found that these "commonality gains" did not offset the additional costs associated with the overall larger aircraft compared to the specifically designed regional jets.

So, the A 318 simply carries too much built-in dead weight around in relation to seat capacity.

And, the initial engine issues did not help, too.



I miss the sound of rolls royce darts and speys
User currently offlinebueb0g From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2010, 623 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5502 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Thread starter):
What was the achilles heel of this aircraft? Why were many airlines opting for the E series or other comparable airplanes versus this one?

A few reasons: The engine that was meant to power it, the PW6000, had major issues with its compressor during development that would have reduced fuel burn by quite a bit. MTU had to step in and give PW their six stage compressor that, although proven, wasn't as efficient. This was a major blow to the program and caused Airbus to relent and allow the CFM56 onto the A318. The whole incident was a bad PR mess.

It's also very heavy for the amount of people it carries. The A320 is built for 160-170 passengers, and the basic structure is the same in the A318, so it's just not optimised for its size. Regional gets with a similar seat count, that are built specifically for that capacity, are inherently lighter and more efficient. It was also not accepted as a regional jet by the authorities and thus missed out on lower landing fees, giving "pure build" RJ's another price advantage. It was also damaged by just how capable the A319 was.

So it was a bit of a PR disaster from the get go and was much less competitive, in one of the most competitive market for aviation at the time than the regional jets, and was also unfortunate with a few lost orders due to things like TWA's collapse. So bad luck, bad strategy, bad economics!



Roger roger, what's our vector, victor?
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7345 posts, RR: 32
Reply 4, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 5437 times:

In my mind - the A318 and the B736 share a common 'problem' - they were built to fill a small market niche. Both were not elegant adaptations of other larger aircraft - and neither was optimized for the market.

The regional jets made the marginal performance of the A318 and B736 a bad choice for the airlines.

If a company survives long enough, they will eventually put out a product that is the wrong item for the market and the times.

The A318 and B736 were the equilavent of the Apple Newton.


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 18684 posts, RR: 58
Reply 5, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4679 times:

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 3):
It's also very heavy for the amount of people it carries. The A320 is built for 160-170 passengers, and the basic structure is the same in the A318, so it's just not optimised for its size.

This is really the big issue. It's also the reason why the 736 never sold very well.


User currently offlinechuchoteur From France, joined Sep 2006, 750 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4611 times:

I wouldn't say the A318 is dead.

For niche markets it is doing quite well (LCY to LGA via SNN for example), and in the corporate jet market it is definitely finding a lot of customers. The disadvantages for most airlines (overpowered with the CFM engines, and structural provisions much greater than required) make it a great corporate jet...


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6264 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4572 times:

A bigger issue for the 736/318 in the US at the time was scoping clauses. The seat capacity of these birds put them into the scoping clause at most airlines that allowed the airlines to farm out the flying to "regional affiliates." US carriers didn't want to pay 737 and A32x crew wages when they could farm out the flying...and they didn't want to pay for 737 and 320 type ratings for regional crews, either. Of course, as the price of fuel rose dramatically in the 2000's, the fuel ineffeciency of flying the super shrink models became apparent, too  


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlinescarebus03 From Ireland, joined Apr 2005, 303 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4536 times:
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Actually 'technically' it is a fine airplane as are the bigger siblings but as correctly stated above for operational/economic reasons it doesn't make sense in today's market.

Brgds
SB03



No faults found......................
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 18684 posts, RR: 58
Reply 9, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4491 times:

Quoting chuchoteur (Reply 6):
I wouldn't say the A318 is dead.

Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO? Are there any outstanding orders? AFAIK, No and No. So it's quite dead.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24075 posts, RR: 22
Reply 10, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 4391 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO?

No.


User currently offlineiFlyLOTs From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 433 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 4353 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO?

Isn't that because it uses a different, newer engine anyway?

And kind of off topic, but same idea-ish too.. Why did the 735 sell so well? was it because it was created before the larger regional jets were considered? The 737-600 has only sold 69, and the 737-500 sold 389



"...stay hungry, stay foolish" -Steve Jobs
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15468 posts, RR: 26
Reply 12, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 4344 times:

Too much weight, too little revenue. When you consider similarly sized planes, the A318 is way overweight with an empty weight of 87,000 lbs. The E-195 is about 64,000 lbs, the 717 at about 67,500, the Fokker 100 at 54,000 and even the 737-500 at 69,000 lbs. all significantly undercut it. Unless you really need the extra range, that's mostly just extra deadweight.

Airlines are better off using either a lighter aircraft more optimized for the more common shorter routes, or using an A319 and have the potential for more revenue for comparatively little extra cost.

Quoting iFlyLOTs (Reply 11):
Why did the 735 sell so well? was it because it was created before the larger regional jets were considered?

It wasn't that heavy compared to either the A320 or 737NG. The 737-600 had and empty weight about 11,000 lbs. higher than the 737-500. Also, the 737 Classic suffered from relatively poor range compared to the A320 series, so the extra range the -500 gave probably came in handy.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 6942 posts, RR: 18
Reply 13, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4254 times:

Quoting chuchoteur (Reply 6):
For niche markets it is doing quite well (LCY to LGA via SNN for example), and in the corporate jet market it is definitely finding a lot of customers. The disadvantages for most airlines (overpowered with the CFM engines, and structural provisions much greater than required) make it a great corporate jet...

IIRC that one is going to JFK?

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 5):
Quoting bueb0g (Reply 3):
It's also very heavy for the amount of people it carries. The A320 is built for 160-170 passengers, and the basic structure is the same in the A318, so it's just not optimised for its size.

I see, that makes sense. Couldn't they have changed the structure though?



One of the FB admins for PHX Spotters. "Zach the Expat!"
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15468 posts, RR: 26
Reply 14, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4242 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 13):
Couldn't they have changed the structure though?

Not without taking so much time and effort that it would have not been worth it.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 18684 posts, RR: 58
Reply 15, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3798 times:

Quoting iFlyLOTs (Reply 11):
And kind of off topic, but same idea-ish too.. Why did the 735 sell so well? was it because it was created before the larger regional jets were considered? The 737-600 has only sold 69, and the 737-500 sold 389

The 737 3/4/5 was based on a lighter overall aircraft with less range and less MTOW. For that reason, the 735 wasn't as overweight for its size as the 736 is. The trip costs for a 735 flight are actually lower than the identical flight for the 736, I've heard.


User currently offlineRoseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9377 posts, RR: 52
Reply 16, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3763 times:

The Embraer 195 offers the same seating capacity and 25% lower trip fuel burn. It's basically impossible to justify that big of a fuel difference unless an airline needs the additional range and payload that the A318 offers. Since so few airplanes in the 100 seat market are used on longer routes or ones that require high payload, the A318 performance advantage is slim. The Embraer 190 is also no slouch when it comes to range.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlinechuchoteur From France, joined Sep 2006, 750 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3667 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO? Are there any outstanding orders? AFAIK, No and No. So it's quite dead

Please check your facts. 3 in the backlog.
http://www.airbus.com/no_cache/company/market/orders-deliveries/
(order and delivery spreadsheet)

Re-engining the aircraft would serve no purpose.
You would add weight to an aircraft that is already structurally heavy and overpowered.
The aircraft (in Elite configuration) can have an additional center tank installed so you are not range-constrained, either.


User currently offlinepilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3139 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (1 year 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3419 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 7):

A bigger issue for the 736/318 in the US at the time was scoping clauses. The seat capacity of these birds put them into the scoping clause at most airlines that allowed the airlines to farm out the flying to "regional affiliates." US carriers didn't want to pay 737 and A32x crew wages when they could farm out the flying...and they didn't want to pay for 737 and 320 type ratings for regional crews, either. Of course, as the price of fuel rose dramatically in the 2000's, the fuel ineffeciency of flying the super shrink models became apparent, too

I'll refute this point a little. There isn't a single airline that has scope that allows for something the size of a 195/A318 to be flown by a regional crew. US Airways has the most "relaxed" scope but even that only allowed for up to 86 seats in a 175. Their 190s are flown by mainline crews despite one of their largest regional partners flying the same type. Flying a larger aircraft with that few seats is not cost effective. While republic is flying 190s for Frontier with 99 seats, this has nothing to do with scope. It has more to do with the fact that republic's pilot contract only has a pay scale up to 99 seats. Anything more than that and Bedford and company would have to negotiate a new payscale, which they have indicated they don't want to do. Even on a regional scale, the 190 hasn't worked well for Frontier and they are being phased out slowly. Yes, Jetblue is flying the 190, but those are B6 pilots. They aren't flown by a regional.

The biggest issue for the smaller frames is that the larger members of the family are only marginally more expensive to operate, perhaps even less expensive because of larger numbers of frames on property with no real loss in performance.



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