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Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:06 pm

A friend of mine and I were just discussing a while earlier British Airways' decision to retire their A market (non ER) 777s, and he asked, couldn't they convert them to ERs instead?

Is this possible? If so, have any types of aircraft (757, 767, 777, etc) been converted after being manufactured into an ER configuration? And what modifications would that entail.

Also as an aside, I know that ER is NOT the same thing as ETOPS, but does ER have any effect on ETOPS? The reason I ask is that British Airways, for example, used all their A market 777s to the Middle East, and 777ERs to the US/Canada East Coast cities, although the distances to the middle East are actually longer. Was this choice because of the 777ERs are better equipped for overwater flights?
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:11 pm

It is possible to convert aircraft from one version to another. McDonnell Douglas even developed a kit for converting MD-82s into MD-83s back in the mid eighties.

But it is usually expensive to convert aircraft from one type to another, which is why the two-engine 727 concept never worked out and why perfectly good 737-200 airframes are not converted to 737-300 engines. So much has to be done that you might as well just keep operating what you have until you simply can't use it anymore and you buy or lease whatever is on the market when it comes time to replace them.

Actually, the decision is usually made at least two years before that the old a/c type has to go, and a new one is usually selected at least a year and a half before replacement is scheduled to begin. This time period is shortened with leased aircraft, and the process might take only 6-9 months from decision to replace to first replacement.
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:12 pm

Yes, when ETOPS was approved for the 762, TW converted their entire 762 fleet to ER standard. AC converted 2 of 12 762's to ER standard for example.

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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:20 pm

An ETOPS approved aircraft is one built and operated to very strict rules and regulations allowing it to operate on ETOPS routes. An ER aircraft has Extended Range meaning additional fuel tanks, possibly more powerful engines and a crew rest. The two though do not necessarily go together. Boeing did certify the B777 with ETOPS approval but acceptance of that is based on the Countries own Aviation Authority where the aircraft is to be registered.
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:41 pm

Several 767's were converted to ER by American and United as well.
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:46 pm

Arent ETOPS and ER 2 very very different matters???

U can have an ER but no ETOPS... U can have ETOPS but no ER... right?
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 3:55 pm

You can but under most circumstances it is probably cost prohibitive.
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 4:22 pm

Yes if you can't fly over water with so much range at hand...
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 7:45 pm

They do not necessarily have anything to do with each other.

The A market 777 is perfectly capable of a variety of ETOPS routes, as is the A320 series, the 737NG, and the 757.

ETOPS is a certification process, and one of the requirements is not "ER".

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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 8:05 pm

It all depends. In some cases, the difference between a higher gross weight version and lower gross weight version is merely in the certification. The same hardware is there, it is just that some airframes are certified to carry more than others are. This is done by manufacturers so they can charge more for customers that want more - even though it costs them the same to produce it regardless. This practice is analogous to that of the software industry - in most software packages, a commercial version does more things and costs more than the consumer or educational version. This is despite the fact that although the commercial version may cost more to develop, once the development costs are paid, there is no difference between the cost to ship a commercial version and the cost to ship an educational version. Usually the additional features are still there but just disabled.

In this case, all you need to do is go to the manufacturer buy the right to use a higher certified gross weight. This is the case for the 737 series - various gross weights are offered but there is no difference in the actual plane you receive, just in the price you pay and the contract you sign.

However, in other cases, there are huge structural differences. I believe this is the case with the B-market 777's, as well as the 747-400ER. Here Boeing had to beef up the wings and allot of the fuselage load bearing parts. To retrofit these modifications would be cost-prohibitive.
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RE: Can A Non-ER Aircraft Be Converted To An ER?

Sat Dec 14, 2002 9:34 pm

Yes, even to the point of adding more range to an already long-ranged aircraft. A case in point...the DC-10-30. This plane was already long-legged, but some carriers added more fuel tanks in the belly, and they became known as the DC-10-30ER. Even the standard 757-200 can get more range. American had some converted into 757-223(ET), for extra tankage. It can be done to most aircrafts, but you'll be giving up revenue generating payloads. Just my two cents here. Regards.
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