sv7887
Posts: 1259
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 7:31 pm

How Old Is Too Old?

Sat Jun 28, 2003 11:47 pm

Hello All,
A few days ago a Northwest DC-10-30 returned to Logan Airport in Boston due to Engine Fire. Now, this may have nothing to do with the A/c's age, but it made me think: How old is too old for a passenger airliner?
I realize there is more to this than simply age. Hours on the airframe is probably the bigger factor as mileage is on an autmobile.

Your thoughts would be appreciated,
SV
 
AA737-823
Posts: 4887
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sat Jun 28, 2003 11:56 pm

Well, it's like this, in my mind.

There is no age too old for an airplane. Usually.
For example, there are DC-3's that are 60 years old still making nostalgia flights in civilized countries, and scheduled flights in countries... less civilized.

However, we all know that metal DOES age and crack- witness the Aloha 737 incident in Hawaii. Also, wiring ages- witness the Swissair MD-11 incident over Nova Scotia. That might not be the best example, though, as that MD-11 was not yet ten years old at the time.

SO- if PROPERLY MAINTAINED, there is no age too old for an aircraft. But I don't think the families of the dead flight attendant from Hawaii could be convinced of that.

Midwest is flying the second DC-9 ever produced- it rolled down the lane at Long Beach in 1966. It's safe. It's not on fire.

Engine fires happen, unfortunately. And, as you pointed out, have little to do with the age of the airframe.

So I guess the answer is one you have to form yourself.

R
 
POSITIVE RATE
Posts: 2121
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 11:31 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sat Jun 28, 2003 11:57 pm

Depends on how many cycles the a/c has completed. Too old would be when it gets to the point where the plane is aflling apart or has major structural problems- like the Aloha 737-200 that lost part of it's cabin roof. I don't really consider a DC-10-30 to be too old to be flying. Maybe a 707 still in pax service, now that would be too old.
 
jwenting
Posts: 9973
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2001 10:12 pm

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:44 am

If properly maintained they can continue a long time. And there are still 707s in passenger service today (and not properly maintained) in Africa.

An engine fire can happen to any aircraft. Maybe they had a birdstrike, or fuel contamination, or whatever.

I remember a brandnew A320 crashing in Paris. Noone said that was too old...
I wish I were flying
 
POSITIVE RATE
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 11:31 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 11:32 am

I remember a brandnew A320 crashing in Paris. Noone said that was too old...


Yeah that's because the pilots flew it into the trees, otherwise known as CFIT.
 
YoungDon
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu May 31, 2001 9:33 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 11:37 am

NW has many DC9s that are more than 30 years old, and they are still flying safely. Up until a couple of years ago, there were quite a few older 727's and 737's in the air, and they flew safely. But hours on the airframe is a much better indicator than age. But airplanes that are properly maintained can fly for almost forever.

Don
 
SJCguy
Posts: 569
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2001 4:39 pm

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 4:00 pm

If I'm not mistaken, also, some of NW's DC10's were produced in the mid 80's?

SJCguy
 
POSITIVE RATE
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RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 7:24 pm

Doesn't Aloha still operate the 737-200? They are some of the oldest 737s out there.
 
JETPILOT
Posts: 3094
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 6:40 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 8:14 pm

As long as an aircraft is maintained it can fly forever.

The reasons airplanes are retired is not becuase they are too old to fly, it's because of the economic impact of maintaining an aging airframe.

I currently fly a 1964 727-100. TWA retired the plane in 1982. Heck... they just broke it in.

Just take a look at the DC8. More than half are still flying. The oldest flying DC8 has 58,000 cycles on it. The design lifetime on the DC8 is 100,000 cycles.

A plane gets cut up once the bank has made it's money leasing it, and decides its cost proibitive to put it through a D-Check, and gets it's money out of it by cutting it up and selling it for spares.

That's why L10-11's arent flying around as cargo planes. Corrosion issues, and a wing spar AD mod have made it prohibitive to invest the bucks to keep it airworhty, so they cut it up. You can't make money with an L1011 as you can with a DC10. Maintenance is a nightmare.

BTW... there is still a DC3 making scheduled serviceinto MIA everyday.

JET





 
Woodreau
Posts: 1182
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 6:44 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Mon Jun 30, 2003 12:24 am

You know the B-52's will be over 90 years old when they are scheduled for retirement at 2035/2040.

Cheers  Smile
Woodreau / KMVL
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
JBirdAV8r
Posts: 3454
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2001 4:44 am

RE: How Old Is Too Old?

Mon Jun 30, 2003 2:03 am

Yeah that's because the pilots flew it into the trees

I'm no expert on the Mulhouse crash, but I believe it was more of an issue of the flight crew not having sufficient knowledge of a brand-new airplane system (and I think I remember hearing about some sort of bug in the Alpha-floor system) than simply a negligent flight crew letting their airplane carelessly thunk into the trees.

JETPILOT, as a side note to your comments, I've heard that UPS maintains their DC-8's to an unbelievably good condition...almost better than new. They always have the prettiest DC-8's on the tarmac, and they look like they have quite a bit of attention paid to them at all times.
I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet