johnclipper
Topic Author
Posts: 526
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 5:44 am

Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:59 am

PA participated in the CRAF program for some extra $$$ and a number of their B747s were converted for CRAF use with SCDs added. Why didn't PA ever use them as Combi's after they shut down their dedicated Cargo division? Wouldn't these have brought in some extra revenue especially in the leaner winter months when traffic died down? Were these CRAF B747s not able to operate as true Combi's or did PA not have enough cash on had to make the interior switch-out?
"Flown every aircraft since the Wright Flyer" (guys, if you take this literally, then you need to get a life...)
 
User avatar
exFWAOONW
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:32 pm

Re: Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:19 am

It takes more than moving seats to convert a pax aircraft into a combi. How do you load freight on the main deck? A combi has to have the floor reinforced more than a pax aircraft. It’s not something you can do in a day or two.

Are you sure PA hauled freight on their CRAF duty? NWA also rented out their 747s as CRAF and they only hauled soldiers and belly freight.
Is just me, or is flying not as much fun anymore?
 
User avatar
LAXintl
Posts: 23636
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 12:12 pm

Re: Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:32 am

There was no combi option for the 19 PA 747s converted for CRAF for DOD between 1985 and 1990. It was either all pax or all cargo.

One bit of trivia, after conversion the aircraft gained quite some weight which resulted in worse payload/range capability and increased fuel burn. The DOD money was likely nice to have up front but is created a commercial disadvantage for PA in other ways.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
User avatar
RetiredNWA
Posts: 125
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:01 pm

Re: Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:04 am

In an attempt to answer your questions, here is my response:

“Why didn't PA ever use them as Combi's after they shut down their dedicated Cargo division?”

The dedicated cargo division was a loss-leader for Pan Am. During that timeframe, Pan Am was not a profit-making airline — at all. (Historically, Pan Am never really was!)

“Wouldn't these have brought in some extra revenue especially in the leaner winter months when traffic died down?”

Any aircraft that brings in revenue must be profitable. In order to be profitable, the aircraft must suit the mission and the mission must suit the aircraft.

Pan Am, in an attempt at showmanship at the hands of the capable (but narcissisticly-challenged) Juan Trippe, over-ordered 747’s and over-leveraged itself in terms of operations, debt, debt management and brand.

There are a things nostalgic about Pan Am. Unfortunately, nostalgia not-a-company-make, and, Pan Am is long gone.

The economic environment of the 70’s and 80’s, the Regulated system of airlines in our country and Pan Am’s “bravado” all contributed to the closure of their dedicated cargo operation. Had Pan Am been profitable, those 747’s you speak of *still* would have struggled with performance and availability of cargo to be flown.

Remember, when the dedicated cargo operation shut down, even FedEx and UPS were comparative “infants” in the cargo airline world. The Flying Tiger’s really had a good hold on the cargo market.

There are some great books out there about Pan Am - “SkyGods” and “The Company We Kept” being two that come to mind that would provide you far more context into the operations and management of the company.
 
catiii
Posts: 3077
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:18 am

Re: Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:52 am

johnclipper wrote:
PA participated in the CRAF program for some extra $$$


As I recall, unless you participate in the CRAF program you cannot bid on GSA flying during peacetime so it wasn’t a matter of just picking up a few extra dollars. Unless Pan Am could afford to pass up additional government contract flying (and judging from the way they ran their airline they couldn’t afford to pass up any dollars at all), they had to participate in the program.
 
catiii
Posts: 3077
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:18 am

Re: Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:54 am

exFWAOONW wrote:
It takes more than moving seats to convert a pax aircraft into a combi. How do you load freight on the main deck? A combi has to have the floor reinforced more than a pax aircraft. It’s not something you can do in a day or two.

Are you sure PA hauled freight on their CRAF duty? NWA also rented out their 747s as CRAF and they only hauled soldiers and belly freight.


They did modify one 747 with a combi freight door between the 4L and 5L door in the mid 1980s.
 
User avatar
eta unknown
Posts: 2362
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2001 5:03 am

Re: Why weren't PA CRAF B747s Used as Combis?

Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:41 am

I think a number of PA 747's had the side cargo door installed, but never flew in combi configuration.
FYI Sabena was able to convert their 747's from all pax to combi and vv in about 6 hours- they had specialised machinery made to perform the task. Their 737's were also quickly changed for evening freight runs.

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos