I heard from a friend who works for AA that the F100 was a terrific plane in terms of fuel efficiency.
Yes. Very fuel efficient, but (relatively) very slow which equates to not being very economical when you're trying to move people & baggage. When you fly it at redline speeds (for marketing reasons) you lose much of the fuel economy advantage.
But that the big problem was that it's max. landing weight was low, compared to its max. takeoff weight.
Not really (see below for more details).
The plane was supposed to fly short hops, like ORD-IND and DFW-AUS, but with passengers, fuel, and cargo, the plane was over its max landing weight.
Yes, the F100 was designed for relatively short hops and no on those short hops we were never weight restricted.
Since the likes of WN started to fly these short-hops, the F100, under weight restriction, couldn't carry enough cargo to make up for the lower fares that AA was forced to match.
No direct competition from WN
when I flew the F100. The problem was that AA
's route structure moved away from the small "mini-hubs" of BNA
as being too cost inefficent. IOW, Crandall's early 1990's (1991 I believe) statement that "the future of this industry belongs to the low cost producer" was just starting to become visible. Minimum cost, not maximum revenue was where the USA industry was headed... even back then. AA
hub first due to "not enough revenue" (IOW: costs too high for revenue generating ability). The hub was "profitable," just not profitable enough to justify keeping the assets there. BNA
followed soon after for the same published reason.
So, the F100s were put on routes that they weren't intended to fly, such as ORD-SAT and DFW-ATL.
I was in BNA
at the time flying mostly full (90+ pax average) F100 flights in/out of BNA
and we were never weight restricted. That is, until the last 6 months the base was open. Those last 6 months saw most of the shorter flights at BNA
ended (some, but not all were picked up by AE
) and the F100s were assigned to longer stage length flights. At that point we quickly became weight restricted on most if not all flights in a month... especially if we had to carry divert fuel. My most easily remembered example was DFW
. Normally flown with full pax/cargo load without problem. Put on holding fuel and/or divert fuel (CVG
... pretty close by airports) and we immediately lost at least 16 pax (and their bags) capacity.
Is this an accurate assessment?
Pretty much (see above) although I don't recall seeing ORD
[that'd be a very long haul for the F100]. OTOH I did fly quite a few DFW
flights wondering what the heck the F100 was doing on that route [higher demand than our capacity and often requiring holding fuel which reduced capacity further]. Simply put, with the loss of N/S hub flying [BNA
] the F
100 just didn't fit into AA
's route structure very well at all.
IF AA had purchased the MD-87 and not the F-100, which I understood the choice at the time came down to, I suspect AA would still be flying them (the MD-87s) due to flight deck and parts commonality.
Uh, no. The -87 cockpit is much closer to the MD90 than the MD82/83 in AA
I will never understand why this wasn't given more weight in the selection process; seems too much weight was placed on the purchase price and/or lease terms?
As Crandall explained it to me (yes he did ride our jumpseats often), the devil is in the details and in this case the details involved the politics of getting more USA-Europe authority for AA
. The F100 purchase became intwined in the complex negotiating puzzle of international politics and airline route/airport authority. Crandall thought the F100 would be a good fit for N/S flying (especially SNA
), but that didn't pan out. He accepted the planes partly to protect AA
's growing trans-atlantic flying (don't piss off the politicians... expecially "kings").