Topic Author
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How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Wed Jun 01, 2005 5:52 am

Hi everyone! I was just wondering, while reading other posts and spotting at EWR, that it seems like an airline will send one aircraft type one day on a certain flight number, and the same number will be operated by a different type the next day. For example, I flew EWR-FRA on a LH343 last summer, and yesterday it was a 744. I was just wondering, does the airline designate a certain aircraft type for the entire season or will it unexpectedly change the aircraft based on the number of bookings? It seems to me like the latter would not be wise because of pilot certification and other fleet requirements. Any light shed on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

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RE: How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Wed Jun 01, 2005 6:11 am

i would say it would be a season thing as you dont get as many people travelling one season as you do the next season so theres no point sending a half loaded 744 when you can send a near full load a346 or 767 and youll save money on fuel this way as your not carrying empty space but full space
You cant have your cake and eat it... What the hells the point in having it then!!!
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American 767
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RE: How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Wed Jun 01, 2005 5:22 pm

Yes, it must be for season reasons they do that. They do studies, over a certain period of time, on load factors on different markets and they see where flights are mostly full and where they are not. Equipment swaps are not uncommon at the airlines.

That is the reason why many airlines select aircraft types where there is most commonality between them, so that they can easily change equipment should there be an overbooking or a load factor too low, or if another aircraft is grounded somewhere for technical problems.
A few months ago, I flew on a CSA B737-500 Series from CDG to PRG. The aircraft was supposed to be a 400 but if they switched to the smaller 500, they probably saw there were too many empty seats that day, or not enough seats sold. The return flight PRG-CDG was a 400, as anticipated. Pilots at CSA holding a B737 type rating are qualified on both the 400/500 Series aircraft, at any airline if you are qualified to fly a 300, 400 or 500 you are automatically qualified to fly all three. The FAA regulation is such that a B737 type rating covers all series, but whether you are qualified to fly the early models, Classics and the NG's all together, that is up to the airline. Each airline decides.

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium
Ben Soriano
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RE: How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:36 am

Thank you Jamesbuk and American767. Ben - I love Brussels, I am very anxious to go back. Thank you for all your information. Are you Belgian French or Flamish? If French, "Merci et salutations". If Flamish, sorry, I don't know the language but hello nontheless.

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RE: How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Fri Jun 03, 2005 2:13 pm

When I planned my AUA trip last summer with AA, AA listed 767 for both ways.

The way to AUA from JFK was a 767, there wasn't alot of pax on board (weekday flight)

But the return trip was on a 757 and it was packed (again weekday flight but at the same time a CO 737 in AUA had smoke in the cabin problem once it was preparing to board, faulty APU).
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RE: How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Fri Jun 03, 2005 6:34 pm

There are many factors involved in the desicion making of which aircraft to assing to which route. Firstly, they must decide on an aircraft type. Obviously, the easiest is to look at the number of passengers; the more passengers, obviously the larger the aircraft that is needed. Reservations will either sell tickets limited by the seats available on a certain aircraft type, but sometimes when it is easy for the airline to put on a larger aircraft at short notice, the airline can sell more tickets and simply change the aircraft type needed.

The first restriction is that the bilateral agreements may only allow an aircraft of a certain size, so even if you have loads of passengers wanting to fly, if the best you are allowed to do is carry 200 people on any one flight, there is no point in putting on a 747.

Secondly, freight is a big earner for many airlines, so when we recently got the 777 from Kenya Airways in HKG rather than the 767, it was not for additional passengers, but an extra large amount of freight.

For a short haul flight, at Cathay we sometimes have a route operated by 747-400 on one day, A330-300 on another, 777-200 on another, 777-300 on another and A340-300 or even the A340-600 on the other. Many of these flights depart and will arrive back in Hong Kong either the same day or the following day with the same set of crew. A problem arises when an aircraft needs a crew change. No use sending a CX A340-300 to FRA instead of the 747-400 on one of the days because there won't be an Airbus crew to bring the aircraft back from FRA...and the 747-400 crew due to fly back to HKG that day won't have a plane to fly! This can apply to cabin as well as cockpit crew. If an aircraft swap is needed, it needs to be arranged well in advance.

Sometimes the engineers may not be qualified for another type. For example, if you had previously sent a CX A330 to Colombo, sri lanka, the local engineers would not have been able to fix it if anything went wrong because they are only 777 qualified. This pervents the company from sending anything but the 777s on this route. (The engineers there now have Airbus licences too).

As for individual aircraft, a certain twin jet for example may have had it's ETOPS tempoarily downgraded because of equipment failure, e.g. APU failure, which would limit that aircraft to non-ETOPS routes, so that particular plane cannot fly the 'normal' route it would have done. Other aircraft may have a different cabin configuration which the company may want to send on a certain route. Many companies send their long haul aircraft on short haul flights during the day, however if you have a new cabin, you may want to showcase it and keep it on as many long haul flights as possible instead of the short flights.

Some airlines like CX at LHR have their aircraft sitting around for a significant part of the day. CX uses this opportunity for the aircraft to have maintenance done on it, and therefore an aircraft with lots of little things to fix may be sent there in preference to others. Maybe it is cheaper to wash an aircraft at city Y rather than City Z, so a dirty aircraft is deliverately sent there for a wash.

There are many many things which decide why an aircraft type or individual aircraft flies to a certain destination. I have touched on a few of the reasons here....there are many more, but hope you get the idea!
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RE: How To Decide Which Aircraft To Send?

Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:39 pm

I also intended to mention that some airport may not be suitable for certain aircraft types. At Cathay, we send the 747-400 to Johannesburg during their hot summer months because at such a hot and high airport, take off performance is very important in order to carry the entire load of passengers. It is embarrasing for the company when they have to offload passengers because the aircraft is too heavy with them on board. In the winter months, the A340-300 is sent because with the cooler temperatures, they can depart with a fairly full load. If they sent an A340 during the summer months, it would have to take off half empty because it cannot physically depart with a full load!

Other times, the runway may simply be too short to send a certain aircraft type. For the short runway at NRT, certain flights are designated and therefore we cannot send a 777-300 or a 747-400 on those flights because the runway is too short, and the flight number in question can only use that shorter runway!

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