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Can A 3 Engine Freight A/C Cruise Using 2?  
User currently offlineLtbewr From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13863 posts, RR: 17
Posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3742 times:

Can a 3 engine aircraft like a 727, DC-10/MD-11 in freighter use be operated on just 2 engines at cruise and intentionally not using the 3rd engine to save fuel? For example, if an aircraft is running a deadhead with no or very little frieght or maybe at less than 1/2 of freight capacity, why not operate only 2 3 engines, perhaps shutting down the center engine after takeoff? Does the center engine have to be operated due to systems, support equipment, too hard to restart?

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineTheflcowboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 406 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3698 times:

I think there was a post on this a couple months ago.

The answer ended up being no because the engine that has been shut down doesnt recieve the proper lubrication when its windmilling. The cost to replace an engine is MUCH greater than the cost of fuel to run it.

A318, A320, A332, A333, B1900, B722, B732, B733, B734, B735, B737, B738, B772, CR1, CR2, CR7, CR9, MD80, MD81, MD82, MD8
User currently offlineJETPILOT From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3130 posts, RR: 27
Reply 2, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3668 times:

The # 2 engine on the 727 has an engine driven hydraulic pump powering A system hydraulics. So that answers that question.


User currently offlineRendezvous From New Zealand, joined May 2001, 543 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3630 times:

The engine that is not running would cause excess drag, therefor requiring more power overall to make the aircraft cruise at the same speed. This increases fuel burn.

Basically drag = fuel.

I think it would also require the other two engines to run at pretty high power settings for the whole flight, which probably doesn't help their life.

User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2416 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3530 times:

Not and stay at cruise altitude.

I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offline411A From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1826 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3516 times:

It wouldn't save any fuel either.

Lockheed L1011, 3 engine cruise (mid weight), FL330, 485 KTAS, M.85

Same aircraft, 2 engine cruise, 420 KTAS, burning 500kg/hour MORE fuel, due to lower altitude achievable...ie: FL240.

The ONLY jet transport that could actually save fuel shutting down one engine in cruise was the deHavilland Comet 4.
This was requested as a normal operating practise by DanAir, but the UK CAA said (respectfully) NO.

User currently offlineCOFreqFlyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 397 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3462 times:

As I recall, the RAF Nimrod (Military version of the Comet) will frequently shut down two of the four engines while on the extended maritime patrols they fly. Soooo, 411A is correct.

The Proud Bird with the Golden Tail
User currently offlineAGrayson514 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 396 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3378 times:

Could they not run one engine on a lower setting or maybe even idle instead of just carrying dead weight?

~ Andrew Grayson

Give a little bit...
User currently offlineAir2gxs From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3374 times:

Basically, if its not producing thrust, its creating drag. Not only that; Operating on 2 engines vs. 3 engines means you're flying slower, taking longer to get to your destiantion and burning fuel.

Cargo airlines live by the clock. Their schedules are built around getting in on time. Sure, you can build your schedule around the slower aircraft, but that will reduce your ground time.

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17667 posts, RR: 65
Reply 9, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3362 times:

Could they not run one engine on a lower setting or maybe even idle instead of just carrying dead weight?

Sure, but it would produce drag since it's going at a speed not "coordinated" (for lack of a better word) with the speed of the aircraft.

Also, this would mean the other engines would need to go faster, increasing their fuel burn.

Generally, one can say that beyond special cases (Nimrod), aircraft are designed to cruise most efficiently with all their engines running. Any attempt to fudge this will increase cost.

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineXXXX10 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 779 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3360 times:

I would imagine that the pilots would try to fly higher if the a/c was light this would give them better consumption. If a higher altitude was not available then I'm not sure what would happen.

It might be the case that if they didn't need as much power they would use a lower thrust setting on each engine rather than idle/shut down one.

User currently offlineTimT From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 168 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 3268 times:

In the early days of the Rolls Royce RB-211 and the L-1011, they used to use all 3 for takeoff and then pull one engine's power back because they knew they were going to lose an engine before they got to the destination. Thanks to TWA, Eastern and Delta, it didn't take too many years before they got the reliability. TWA had one do some 20,000 hours on wing.

User currently offlineMxCtrlr From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 2485 posts, RR: 32
Reply 12, posted (11 years 8 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 3146 times:

Some of the guys I work with have throttled an engine back to flight idle as a fuel conservation method but shutting the engine down in flight, for a reason other than abnormal operations, is a violation of FAR's (not to mention, really stupid. What happens if you can't get that engine restarted in flight? You then have to declare an emergency and explain to your company and the FAA why you shut down a good engine in flight).

I also know of several pilots flying "Valsan-mod" 727's that routinely retard #2 to flight idle after initial climb (usually, the #2 engine is a JT8D-17 or -17A, while #1 & #3 are JT8D-217's).

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Freight Dogs Anonymous - O.O.T.S.K.  Smokin cool

DAMN! This SUCKS! I just had to go to the next higher age bracket in my profile! :-(
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 7142 posts, RR: 53
Reply 13, posted (11 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2967 times:

The Nimrod is a very special case. In its maritime patrol role it may cruise at a few hundred feet altitude for hours.

In the thinner air at airliner cruising altitudes the max power output is reduced as much as 70 - 75 % and only a lightly loaded four holer can maintain speed and altitude with an engine shut down.

Shutting down an engine will always mean increased fuel consumption because of lower altitude, thicker air and more drag.

The Nimrod also uses much more fuel on two engines at sea level than it uses at 30,000 feet on four engines. Anyway it may spend less fuel with two engines at half power than with four engines at quarter power.

I don't believe in the Danair procedure shutting down two engines on the Comet 4. No way could a Comet 4 maintain a sensible altitude on two engines, and no way could they save fuel on going lower and slower on two engines instead of four engines at a sensible altitude. Even if their straight jet RR Avons had a slightly smaller thrust loss at altitude compared to modern high bypass ratio turbofans.

It might have been possible for Danair to save a substantial amount of fuel shutting down two engines during descend and keeping the rest at flight idle. In any case they would then have to restart the engines well before the approach anticipating a possible go around in dirty landing configuration. A low compression ratio straight jet like the Avon uses a significant amount of fuel also at idle.

The Comet cousin - the Nimrod - does it at an extra fuel cost only when it is demanded by the mission.

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offline411A From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1826 posts, RR: 8
Reply 14, posted (11 years 7 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 2918 times:

Not two engines shut down with the Comet 4, Prebennorholm, it was ONE engine that was the DanAir request to the UK CAA...and rejected.

User currently offlineSkysurfer From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 1146 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (11 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2749 times:

I was reading an incident report from the UK's AAIB just yesterday regarding an Air Luxor L-1011. It had a tailstrike performing an autoland at Stansted airport in the UK, and the company chose to ferry the aircraft to Amman in Jordan for repairs. Because of the low flight level needed and reduced take off weight (due to the possibly damaged #2 engine) the aircraft was cleared to ferry to Amman in 3 stages. Unfortunately, the aircraft used up so much fuel due to the #2 engine being run at idle that they had to shut it down altogether inflight.


In the dark you can't see ugly, but you can feel fat
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