kurtjeter
Posts: 142
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:32 am

Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:52 am

A lot of us think that the aircraft we fly on from point A to point B is the same one we fly on as we fly back from B to A. I know it's not, but I find this particularly interesting in longer, transocean flights. For example, I flew a 777 from ORD to BRU and then returned (same airline) on an A330. Likewise, EWR to FRA, courtesy of a 777, but return to EWR (same airlines) on a 767.

My question: what happened to that 777 that took me from EWR to FRA? It obviously had to return to EWR by some route, at some time. And, likewise, how did that 767 get over to FRA in the first place to get me back to EWR?

Would appreciate any information.
 
comorin
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:15 am

Rest assured that the 777 does indeed return. One of two reasons for your dilemma - the airline has multiple flights per day: so you could go to ORD to BRU on one aircraft, and return on another while the original aircraft is scheduled for another flight. The other is that the airline can vary equipment depending on day of week, so you could come in on one and return on the other.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:16 am

Airlines with more than one daily flight on a route try to match the demand with the capacity. Flights at different times of the day can have widely differing demand, so you want to use the largest aircraft on the most popular flight.
 
VgnAtl747
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:26 am

Routings are rarely back and forth (when flying to/from/between hub and/or focus cities). In a small regional airport, 99% of the time, the aircraft that flew from the hub to that city turns around and goes back to the hub, but once it gets to the hub it goes somewhere else (doesn't sit around and wait to go back to that small regional airport again).

Every airline and route is different. As an example, the 772 that flies IAH-LHR as CO34 returns as CO29 LHR-EWR. Now there's also a 772 that comes into LHR from EWR, along with a couple 752s. CO has that nifty "where's my airplane coming from" feature on their website that makes it a lot easier to figure some of that out (if your EWR example happened to be on CO metal).

Long story short, there's lots of reasons for having the routings the way they are. Specific aircraft are rarely route specific, and in the scenario where there's multiple daily flights on a given route they're not necessarily all of the same type. Depending on how the slots and the turnarounds are scheduled, an aircraft coming in from one city may be turned to go somewhere else. You need this to minimize wasted time on the ground, keep fleet utilization as efficient as possible, and allow for rotating of aircraft to facilitate maintenance. If you had one specific frame dedicated to fly back and forth between EWR and FRA, taking that frame out for maintenance (preventative or otherwise) get's much more difficult. You also run the risk of it sitting in FRA for an extended (wasteful) period of time until the next departure back to EWR. In addition, in the scenario of the ugly winter we've had this year, you run the risk of your metal being stuck somewhere else in the event of a major weather event (potentially crippling the fleet depending on how utilized everything is).

There's a real science that goes into fleet and route planning, and I can't even begin to explain it all. I think that's a high enough summary that answers your question though.
Work Hard. Fly Right. Continental Airlines
 
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Aesma
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:32 am

A good start could be to use the airlines' websites and try to book the same leg at different times/dates to see the variation in aircraft (in the same direction). Then obviously the same applies in the other direction. When I book a certain flight I take often, I like to vary planes so I chose the flight according to the plane I want to fly, last time it was CRJ-200 one way, A318 the other way. Next time I'll try to get on a CRJ-1000.
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kellmark
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:38 am

One of the things that I did in my airline career was to route aircraft. The aircraft fleet types are scheduled according to passenger demand, crew capability and availability and aircraft performance capability and limitations. But the actual individual tail numbers within a fleet are generally scheduled according to maintenance requirements. These requirements are built in to the schedule as well. Each item has to be done within a certain specified required limit, measured in one of three ways, flight hours, calendar days, or cycles (takeoffs and landings). For example, an aircraft may need an overnight service, an A check, or engine inspections, or a flap lubrication, etc. These items are assigned to particular stations which have the capability to do the assigned items. It is also necessary to plan technician workload and parts availability or any special tools or facilities.

Normally, as noted above, if a station is at the end of a spoke of a hub, it just goes back. But if not, then any number of combinations may be possible. Also, irregular operations like weather diversions, crews timing out, security issues, airport closures or mechanical breakdowns can cause necessary changes. Aircraft routing is very much like a three dimensional chess game.
 
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Amwest2United
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:14 am

Quoting Kurtjeter (Thread starter):
For example, I flew a 777 from ORD to BRU and then returned (same airline) on an A330

What airline did you fly ORD-BRU-ORD, obviously not a US based carrier?
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etops1
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:57 am

I can only think of Jet Airways who has a hub in BRU and fly both the A330 and 777.
 
kurtjeter
Posts: 142
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:32 am

RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:20 am

Quoting Amwest2united (Reply 6):
What airline did you fly ORD-BRU-ORD, obviously not a US based carrier?

It was AA, in fact. This was in the summer of 2009.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:55 am

Quoting Kurtjeter (Reply 8):

It was AA, in fact.

Not on an A330 it wasn't...
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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citationjet
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RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:50 pm

Quoting Kurtjeter (Thread starter):
I flew a 777 from ORD to BRU and then returned (same airline) on an A330.
Quoting Kurtjeter (Reply 8):
It was AA, in fact.

How is that possible, since AA doesn't fly the A330?
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kurtjeter
Posts: 142
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:32 am

RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:20 pm

Quoting CitationJet (Reply 10):
How is that possible, since AA doesn't fly the A330?

My mistake, I should have listed it as a 767.
Thanks for the info! Helpful and interesting.
 
ANITIX87
Posts: 2960
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:52 am

RE: Why Not The Same A/C Both Ways Across The Atlantic

Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:03 am

Another example is LX's JFK flights.

There are three daily flights to JFK. Two from ZRH, and one from GVA. Let's call the airplanes A, B, and C (all are A330-300). Airport "XXX" is another A330-300 destination in the network (any destination).

A: ZRH-JFK-GVA-JFK-ZRH
B: GVA-JFK-ZRH-XXX-ZRH
C: ZRH-JFK-ZRH-XXX-ZRH

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