Posts: 377
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 3:30 pm

A380 Vs 747 % Factor

Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:36 pm

OK, not an A vs B war, but rather, I have a question regarding how the manufactures use percentages to make comparisons to their competitors products. Just take the most recent article in the April edition of Airways. There is a table on one of the pages that illustrates the comparisons of the A380 vs the 747-400. For example:3

The A380 transports 33% more pax than the 747-400
The A380 has a 12% greater range than the 744.
and so on, and so on.....

Now, in my eyes, yes, these percentages makes sense since the A380 IS after all a larger aircraft than the 747. So yes, the A380 does have a bigger payload, higher weight, larger dimensions, etc... My question revolves around the numbers that the manufactures come up with when they say things like (not a true amount) the A380 is 33% more economical than the 744. How does this actually make sense? While the A380 is not hugely larger than the 747, it still seats almost 100 more pax which would typically place the aircraft models in different categories. My belief continues to be that the 747 and the A380 each have their own niche market. But how can the A380 be more economical to operate than a 747 when the 747 is a smaller aircraft, with less seating, less range, and less weight?? So would this mean that the A380 would be more economical to operate than an A320 or 737? Of course not, there is a specific aircraft model for specific needs. I can understand making these comparisons with models that are very close in every category such as the 737NG family versus the A318/ 19/ 20/ 21 family or the 773ER vs the A346. the comparisons are extremely close in these cases and don't have such a drastic difference like the one you see with the 744 and the A380. But I still don't get how Boeing and Airbus come up with percentages that signify a more efficient product when the two products seem to be quite a bit different with different purposes? Can anyone shed some light on this? I admit it, Math was truly not my best subject, and even less when dealing with percentages.
Posts: 496
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 2:18 am

RE: A380 Vs 747 % Factor

Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:51 pm

The measure of "efficiency" that is generally used is Cost per Available Seat-Mile, or CASM. Variants could be fuel consumption per available seat-mile, etc.

Of course they're not directly comparable.

If you utilize too large an aircraft for a route, you don't realize the benefit of the CASM reduction the larger aircraft might, in theory, provide. If you utilize too small an aircraft for a route, you are underutilizing the market on the route.

The only way you could directly compare the CASM figures for the 747 and the A380 is when your options to properly accomodate demand for a route were four A380 flights or five 747 flights over the same period of time. Certainly, you can envision that scenario, but the timetable would be kind of unconventional for one or the other.

In practice, there will be one or the other that is more appropriate for a given route. And depending on their fleet size and route structure, some airlines might decide to abuse one type of aircraft (Underutilizing either the aircraft's capacity or demand for the route) on a few of their routes to avoid adding another fleet type. Some airlines will undoubtedly fly both, tailored to demand for each route.

But there's common-sense practicality, and then there's marketing. Any number the marketing department can throw around to make their airplane look great and their competitor's product look like garbage, they're going to use. And, generally, the bigger the number, the better.  Smile
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Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 2:35 pm

RE: A380 Vs 747 % Factor

Fri Mar 04, 2005 3:23 pm

thank you for your informative discussion.

Quoting LeanOfPeak (reply 1):
If you utilize too large an aircraft for a route, you don't realize the benefit of the CASM reduction the larger aircraft might, in theory, provide. If you utilize too small an aircraft for a route, you are underutilizing the market on the route.

Another factor I have been hearing about is the load factor. Manufacturers claim a certain load factor for the plane to break even on a trip. How is this calculated and how does it vary over different trip-miles.

Jean Leloup
Posts: 1953
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2001 10:46 am

RE: A380 Vs 747 % Factor

Fri Mar 04, 2005 3:33 pm

It's kind of odd for manufacturers to make comments on break-even loadfactors, because that depends wholly and completely on the pricing schemes of the individual airlines, whcih are really none of A or B's business. Discounting of tickets can move the break-even LF% from flight to flight, even.

If JetsGo had an A380, for instance, some of their flights would probably have a break-even load factor of 120% or so.  Wink

In all seriousness, though, perhaps the manufacturers simply project break-even percentages from the information they may or may not get from their customers (the airlines).
Next flight.... who knows.
Posts: 377
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 3:30 pm

RE: A380 Vs 747 % Factor

Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:55 pm


Thanks for the info. I pretty much figured that certain aircrafts will only provide a certain amount of savings depending on what route it uses it on and what the airline's need would be and not on the stat numbers. But isn't it funny how the marketing maneuvers used by manufactures manage to influence purchases to the point that I personally feel that some airlines would actually be thrown into believing the stats as being compatible with their fleet. I mean, not to start a battle, but if say those rumors were true of SA's problems with the A346's, I would have felt that it would have been an error made by the purchasing department to simply look at the stats without looking at the specific needs that the airline requires. (Notice that I said "IF THE RUMORS WERE TRUE).

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