Topic Author
Posts: 2196
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 8:04 am

Alaska Airlines new aircraft

Fri Mar 05, 1999 6:03 pm

Will Alaska Airlines retire some of it's 737-400's and MD-80's when they get there new 737-700 and 737-900 aircraft?

Currently Alaska Airlines has the most modern and youngest fleet in the U.S but will they retire some of there MD-80 aircraft. I don't think they will retire there 737-400 aircraft cause I think Alaska Airlines will become an all 737 fleet. What do you think?

Farhan Ali. Newport Beach, California
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

MD-80 not a cold weather aircraft

Sat Mar 06, 1999 2:51 am

That has been Alaska airlines plane for a long time. The MD-80 is a pretty economical aircraft but it isn't well suited for cold weather climates(Yes. I know SAS has a bunch). The reason is that the MD-80 has fairly thin wing skins. The temperture at altitude is subzero and the fuel that is in the wing cools down to the air temperture up there. (cold-soaks). When the plane lands the coldness of the fuel causes water vapor in the air to condense and freeze on the upper surfaces on the wings. This is why the trailing edge of the wing up agaist the fuselage is known as the "coffin corner" ice if it isn't checked will break off and go right into the engines. This is one of the reasons that SAS lost that airplane a couple of years ago. I belive that NWA also had one go in a few years back also due to this but don't quote me. Can anybody confirm. Sometimes when you are at the airport you will see a mechanic walk up to the trailing edge of the wing with a ladder and what looks like a four foot long pointer. There are three tufts at each wing root and his job is to tap them with the wand and see if ice comes off.

When I worked for Alaska it was standard procedure to de-ice every MD-80 that was departing because of this. That is a lot of glycol. They also tried not to send MD-80's north of Seattle during the winter. This causes headaches for the dispatch people especially if a aircraft breaks down.

True story. Alaska used to MD-80's on it's run to the Russian Far East because of the longer range of the aircraft. On one run they landed at Magadan and found out that they where out of Glycol. I went over the reasons why an MD-80 has to be deiced above. No problem. The ramp guys decided that there was a subsitute avialable in town. They drove the deice truck down to the town distillery and filled it with Vodka!!. Worked great but the FAA was a little ticked about using an unapproved fluid to de-ice the wings.

RE: MD-80 not a cold weather aircraft

Sat Mar 06, 1999 5:30 am

Great information L-188! This is the kind of information I really enjoy on this forum.

I Hear alot of talk about Alaska going to an all 737 fleet currently their 737-400 fleet has an average age of 3.8 years and their MD80 fleet has an average age of 8.2 years, it's not difficult to see which ones will go as Alaska agressivly keeps its fleet the youngest in the idustry.

Standarization seems to be the way to go for the Alaska air group as they are standardizing the Horizon air fleet to two types, the Dash 8 and CRJ.

RE: Alaska Airlines new aircraft

Sat Mar 06, 1999 7:21 am

I can see Alaska Airlines becoming an all-737 carrier. I think they like the Southwest Airlines idea. It does make sense. I thought they were gouing to expand their routes with bigger aircraft but...
Posts: 2144
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 8:02 am

RE: MD-80 not a cold weather aircraft

Sat Mar 06, 1999 9:06 am

I flew on an Alaskan MD-80 north of Seattle this winter. On December 26, I flew on MD-80 N982AS SEA-ANC-FAI. It was the scheduled aircraft, not a substitute. The temperature in Fairbanks was -15 F. We didn't seem to experience any problems.

Bob Bradley
Richmond, VA
Fly Eastern's Golden Falcon DC-7B
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

Key is the Dewpoint

Sun Mar 07, 1999 1:50 am

Doesn't surprise me. The amount of water vapor that the air can hold decreases the colder the air is. This is why having a relative humidity of say 78% on a 80 degrees day means that there is a lot more water in the air then on a day with the same relative humidity but the temperture is only 20 degrees. I can't remember at what the actualy temp where the air is considered not able to hold anywater. I think it was either +5 or -5 F.

If you have no moisture in the air then there is no moisture to freeze to the wing. Being inland, Fairbanks doesn't have a problem that towns in Southeast Alaska or to a lesser extent Anchorage have, Ocean water fairly close to keep the temperture up and keep the air relativly humid. This is much more of a problem in southeast Ak. They have simular problems in Seattle but it is the headquaters and a major hub for them so it is convienit to stop the MD-80's there.

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