|Quoting Coa747 (Reply 5):|
Throw in a hot muggy summer day in Houston and the daily LH flight to Frankfurt is lucky to achieve 300 feet per minute. That is after departing with almost no cargo. It flies slower than the 777, so when you are talking about a trans-Pacific crossing it adds up and the traffic can stack up behind one. I have heard it has the nickname of garbage truck at Cathay Pacific because it is big and slow.
Not heard about that particular nick name talking to my friends in CX
so far. May I ask if you were flying that Lufthansa A340 out of IAH
or are you an air traffic controler, or how come you know that well about its cargo load and its initial climb rate?
To my knowledge, the A340-300 has its shortcomings, largely in terms of efficiency due to the higher consumption and maintenance cost of the 4 engines and cruise speed can be an issue on very long segments relative to the 777/747. It also has a more narrow fuselage than the B competitor, which makes it more difficult to make best use of the available floor space, may it be 9 abreast seating in Y or fitting in the latest first class products, but...
... climb and take off performance "problems" are largely overstated for reasons that have been discussed here many times, including the differences between quads and twins in case of an engine failure past V1. The A340 also has a climb gradient thats slow in the initial phase, but comparably good at higher altitudes. Runway requirements are also not limiting its operations compared to other aircraft in this class, rather on the contrary (again, think engine out). People here often assume the A340 being a very poor climber due to its slow inital climb which seems to make it do sightseeing departures on hot summer days. But, the 747-400 shows a similar characteristics under such conditions, and, as on other aircraft, the A340 is often times "flexed" on TO
... the airway congestion issue also seems to be overstated as most airlines operate the A340-300 at M.82 which is more than the speed an A310, 757 or 767 are operated at (m.80) flying the most congested routes on this planet (transatlantic). The A330 is also typically operated at M.82 by most carriers on most routes. There was a range issue with the 257t/-5C2 powered variant (the -311/-211) which forced them to operate at LRC which could drop to M.78 or so. That has been solved with the -313X/E.
Actually there are airlines which are quite happy with the aircraft, including lufthansa, that also benefit from commonality effect between large airbus fleets offsetting some portion of the efficiency shortcoming that was increased with the latest fuel price crisis.
Looking back, airbus would have most likely been better off with designing the A330/A340 family as a family of twins available with 2 classes of engines to cover a wider range of MTOWs than the A330 can support. Unfortunately, the engines providing the required growth like the Trent 800 and GE90 were not available back then...