Alright, now I am a BIG L-1011 fan and I love supporting it in our fleet almost on a daily basis, but I am a realist from my exposure to it for almost 4 years. Therefore, I'd like to set the record straight on this whole nonsense:
This was started by a few overzealous pilots with too much time on their hands that we need to buy some more L-1011's to rest the future of the company on. They took it on themselves to call aircraft brokers, overhaul facilties, etc. all under the lie that they were authorized by company leadership(i.e. George Mikelsons) to do it.
This is NOT going to happen since company leadership does NOT consult with pilots to decide company strategy. Its a bad business case and completely ignores the reality of operating these aircraft in this environment. They basically have no idea what they are talking about.
1) The L-1011 is essentially a "dead" aircraft in that fewer than 50 are still airworthy with most being in third world countries. Lockheed virtually no longer supports it and that which they do costs $500/per hour.
2) Since there are no longer any major US operators(e.g. Delta) and no market for spares, parts for this aircraft are either scarce or non-existant. Vendors no longer support, overhaul, or build many parts and Lockheed has a finite amount of parts themselves which are quickly dwindling. Using parts from dismantled aircraft is not a solution either since most of them have already been factory drilled by hand at time of installation which will not match another aircraft.
3) Regulatory requirements and modifications for aging aircraft of structure and avionics on this aircraft is daunting. There are nearly 2 dozen structural modifications and inspections that are required which are time consuming and very expensive. There is a long list of avionics mods required now and in the near future that cost millions because its nearly a one of a kind aircraft that no vendor can recover their costs since they will likely only modify less than 10. It also would take tens of thousands of engineering and planning manhours to generate the necessary paperwork.
4) The RB211-22B engine on the L-1011-1, 50, 100, 150 is no longer supported by Rolls which is one of the main reasons these model aircraft are being grounded for good. Also, nobody offers overhaul services for the -22B engine so the number of serviceable engines is going away. This is the reason we will not D check any of the aircraft in storage since they are all -50's, 100's, and 150's. Only the -524 is still supported which is only on the -200, -250, and -500.
5) Only 2-3 companies left in the world will D check an L-1011 for the same reasons I stated in the previous paragraphs. This D check costs between $5-10 million and does NOT include the regulatory modifications required if one of the ex-Saudia L-1011-200 were D checked. This would easily add another $10 million. The cost to D check and bring just one ex-Saudia L-1011-200 up to current standards would probably cost nearly $30 million. Anyone saying anything otherwise is dellusional.
6) We cannot add more -500 aircraft to our fleet without adding the multi-million dollar P4A door modification(the STC structural mod that adds the 4th door between the 2nd and 3rd door on the -500). This modification is an FAA requirement due to a FAR
Part 25 amendment in the 1980's that require emergency exits to be less than 60 feet apart on new designs and new placed seat density requirements between those exits. The existing -500's on the US registry(Delta -500's) were grandfathered. They in turn got an exemption for those it aquired from Air Canada but the max passenger capacity was only 232 I beleive and that was for a 3-class layout. Therefore, any -500's added to the US registry with a density of greater than 232 would require an additional door be added since we have 283 on our -500's. So adding more -500's is not the answer either.
This idea of adding more L-1011's is pure nonsense and insanity. If ATA really intends on continuing in the AMC and ad-hoc charter business with widebodies, then we need either 767's of MD
-11's. Relying on L-1011's would be disasterous and this company would deserve to fail with such a sorry business plan. If this happens, I for one will not stay around for it.
35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.