PHX787
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What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:33 am

If you know me well enough, you all know I know more about Boeing than Airbus, BUT not to begin a B&A war here, I feel like I don't quite know why the A318 didn't sell as good as its competitors (albeit better than the 736, IIRC, right?) What was the achilles heel of this aircraft? Why were many airlines opting for the E series or other comparable airplanes versus this one?

Sorry for the ignorant thread but I really have no clue.

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U2380
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:45 am

I'm no expect, in any sense of the word, however I believe that part of the original issue was that the P&W engine selected for the aircraft under-performed massively. That lost it a few orders. Combine that with the high level of competition in that regional jet area and a shrink of a shrink just isn't going to cut the mustard.

I'm sure there is much more to it that that though.
 
MHG
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:17 am

Simply put the A 318 is too much overweight in relation to the number of passengers carried.
When the A320 family was designed (an A318 was not considered at the very beginning IIRC) a certain fuselage strength was built to withstand all defined stresses/forces of that 319/320/321 family with a defined safety margin for the expected aircraft weights.

When Airbus decided to go ahead with the A 318 they were trying to offer something below the 319 to existing 320series customers anticipating that crew/maintenance/operational commonality with the other siblings of the family would at least offset the higher cost due to - relative to other aircraft with comparable seatcapacity - higher fuelburn/higher landing fees/etc.
But most existing A320series customers found that these "commonality gains" did not offset the additional costs associated with the overall larger aircraft compared to the specifically designed regional jets.

So, the A 318 simply carries too much built-in dead weight around in relation to seat capacity.

And, the initial engine issues did not help, too.
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bueb0g
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:12 pm

Quoting PHX787 (Thread starter):
What was the achilles heel of this aircraft? Why were many airlines opting for the E series or other comparable airplanes versus this one?

A few reasons: The engine that was meant to power it, the PW6000, had major issues with its compressor during development that would have reduced fuel burn by quite a bit. MTU had to step in and give PW their six stage compressor that, although proven, wasn't as efficient. This was a major blow to the program and caused Airbus to relent and allow the CFM56 onto the A318. The whole incident was a bad PR mess.

It's also very heavy for the amount of people it carries. The A320 is built for 160-170 passengers, and the basic structure is the same in the A318, so it's just not optimised for its size. Regional gets with a similar seat count, that are built specifically for that capacity, are inherently lighter and more efficient. It was also not accepted as a regional jet by the authorities and thus missed out on lower landing fees, giving "pure build" RJ's another price advantage. It was also damaged by just how capable the A319 was.

So it was a bit of a PR disaster from the get go and was much less competitive, in one of the most competitive market for aviation at the time than the regional jets, and was also unfortunate with a few lost orders due to things like TWA's collapse. So bad luck, bad strategy, bad economics!
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rfields5421
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:22 pm

In my mind - the A318 and the B736 share a common 'problem' - they were built to fill a small market niche. Both were not elegant adaptations of other larger aircraft - and neither was optimized for the market.

The regional jets made the marginal performance of the A318 and B736 a bad choice for the airlines.

If a company survives long enough, they will eventually put out a product that is the wrong item for the market and the times.

The A318 and B736 were the equilavent of the Apple Newton.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:26 pm

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 3):
It's also very heavy for the amount of people it carries. The A320 is built for 160-170 passengers, and the basic structure is the same in the A318, so it's just not optimised for its size.

This is really the big issue. It's also the reason why the 736 never sold very well.
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chuchoteur
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:45 pm

I wouldn't say the A318 is dead.

For niche markets it is doing quite well (LCY to LGA via SNN for example), and in the corporate jet market it is definitely finding a lot of customers. The disadvantages for most airlines (overpowered with the CFM engines, and structural provisions much greater than required) make it a great corporate jet...
 
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:31 pm

A bigger issue for the 736/318 in the US at the time was scoping clauses. The seat capacity of these birds put them into the scoping clause at most airlines that allowed the airlines to farm out the flying to "regional affiliates." US carriers didn't want to pay 737 and A32x crew wages when they could farm out the flying...and they didn't want to pay for 737 and 320 type ratings for regional crews, either. Of course, as the price of fuel rose dramatically in the 2000's, the fuel ineffeciency of flying the super shrink models became apparent, too  
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scarebus03
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:18 pm

Actually 'technically' it is a fine airplane as are the bigger siblings but as correctly stated above for operational/economic reasons it doesn't make sense in today's market.

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DocLightning
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:04 pm

Quoting chuchoteur (Reply 6):
I wouldn't say the A318 is dead.

Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO? Are there any outstanding orders? AFAIK, No and No. So it's quite dead.
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Viscount724
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:32 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO?

No.
 
iFlyLOTs
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:26 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO?

Isn't that because it uses a different, newer engine anyway?

And kind of off topic, but same idea-ish too.. Why did the 735 sell so well? was it because it was created before the larger regional jets were considered? The 737-600 has only sold 69, and the 737-500 sold 389
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BMI727
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:50 am

Too much weight, too little revenue. When you consider similarly sized planes, the A318 is way overweight with an empty weight of 87,000 lbs. The E-195 is about 64,000 lbs, the 717 at about 67,500, the Fokker 100 at 54,000 and even the 737-500 at 69,000 lbs. all significantly undercut it. Unless you really need the extra range, that's mostly just extra deadweight.

Airlines are better off using either a lighter aircraft more optimized for the more common shorter routes, or using an A319 and have the potential for more revenue for comparatively little extra cost.

Quoting iFlyLOTs (Reply 11):
Why did the 735 sell so well? was it because it was created before the larger regional jets were considered?

It wasn't that heavy compared to either the A320 or 737NG. The 737-600 had and empty weight about 11,000 lbs. higher than the 737-500. Also, the 737 Classic suffered from relatively poor range compared to the A320 series, so the extra range the -500 gave probably came in handy.
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PHX787
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:32 am

Quoting chuchoteur (Reply 6):
For niche markets it is doing quite well (LCY to LGA via SNN for example), and in the corporate jet market it is definitely finding a lot of customers. The disadvantages for most airlines (overpowered with the CFM engines, and structural provisions much greater than required) make it a great corporate jet...

IIRC that one is going to JFK?

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 5):
Quoting bueb0g (Reply 3):
It's also very heavy for the amount of people it carries. The A320 is built for 160-170 passengers, and the basic structure is the same in the A318, so it's just not optimised for its size.

I see, that makes sense. Couldn't they have changed the structure though?
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BMI727
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:20 am

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 13):
Couldn't they have changed the structure though?

Not without taking so much time and effort that it would have not been worth it.
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DocLightning
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:19 pm

Quoting iFlyLOTs (Reply 11):
And kind of off topic, but same idea-ish too.. Why did the 735 sell so well? was it because it was created before the larger regional jets were considered? The 737-600 has only sold 69, and the 737-500 sold 389

The 737 3/4/5 was based on a lighter overall aircraft with less range and less MTOW. For that reason, the 735 wasn't as overweight for its size as the 736 is. The trip costs for a 735 flight are actually lower than the identical flight for the 736, I've heard.
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roseflyer
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:26 pm

The Embraer 195 offers the same seating capacity and 25% lower trip fuel burn. It's basically impossible to justify that big of a fuel difference unless an airline needs the additional range and payload that the A318 offers. Since so few airplanes in the 100 seat market are used on longer routes or ones that require high payload, the A318 performance advantage is slim. The Embraer 190 is also no slouch when it comes to range.
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chuchoteur
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:52 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
Is Airbus offering the A318-NEO? Are there any outstanding orders? AFAIK, No and No. So it's quite dead

Please check your facts. 3 in the backlog.
http://www.airbus.com/no_cache/company/market/orders-deliveries/
(order and delivery spreadsheet)

Re-engining the aircraft would serve no purpose.
You would add weight to an aircraft that is already structurally heavy and overpowered.
The aircraft (in Elite configuration) can have an additional center tank installed so you are not range-constrained, either.
 
pilotpip
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RE: What Was Technically Wrong With The A-318?

Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:27 pm

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 7):

A bigger issue for the 736/318 in the US at the time was scoping clauses. The seat capacity of these birds put them into the scoping clause at most airlines that allowed the airlines to farm out the flying to "regional affiliates." US carriers didn't want to pay 737 and A32x crew wages when they could farm out the flying...and they didn't want to pay for 737 and 320 type ratings for regional crews, either. Of course, as the price of fuel rose dramatically in the 2000's, the fuel ineffeciency of flying the super shrink models became apparent, too

I'll refute this point a little. There isn't a single airline that has scope that allows for something the size of a 195/A318 to be flown by a regional crew. US Airways has the most "relaxed" scope but even that only allowed for up to 86 seats in a 175. Their 190s are flown by mainline crews despite one of their largest regional partners flying the same type. Flying a larger aircraft with that few seats is not cost effective. While republic is flying 190s for Frontier with 99 seats, this has nothing to do with scope. It has more to do with the fact that republic's pilot contract only has a pay scale up to 99 seats. Anything more than that and Bedford and company would have to negotiate a new payscale, which they have indicated they don't want to do. Even on a regional scale, the 190 hasn't worked well for Frontier and they are being phased out slowly. Yes, Jetblue is flying the 190, but those are B6 pilots. They aren't flown by a regional.

The biggest issue for the smaller frames is that the larger members of the family are only marginally more expensive to operate, perhaps even less expensive because of larger numbers of frames on property with no real loss in performance.
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