jayunited wrote:calpsafltskeds wrote:jay, that's a great rundown of the situation with light loads on a long haul. I just wonder how other flights UA has flown in and out of Mod or maint in HKG or XMN are handled. I know UA tries to make a swap in Asia to a regular flight to minimize long ferries, but tracking the fleet for a few years, there have been lots of ferries in and out of mod that have flown to/from as far as ORD, IAH or EWR. Do these ferries have to take ballast in the back bins? Maybe the lack of any load reduces the fuel requirement? Or, maybe cargo is loaded since there's always a lot coming out of Asia, but westbounds should be more critical with longer flight times and probably little cargo demand.
UA does not operated scheduled or charter service out of XMN, there are times when ballast is necessary if that is case what UA has done in the past is send an empty pallet stack. Also for aircraft going to/from XMN for Polaris/PE modification if the aircraft is nose heavy load planners can ask the dispatcher to lower the fuel. If that doesn't work or the dispatcher says no what UA has done is fill up the potable water tanks to 100%, we are talking about 270 gallons and those tanks are located behind the wings which helps the tail weight. If after all of this we still need weight then empty pallet stacks are loaded. Since you have worked the ramp you know what pallet stacks are and depending on how many boards are stacked they can be quite heavy.
Having said that and keeping in line with the cargo theme Kirby today on a call talked about the fact that the recovery will take much longer than anyone anticipated. With that in mind UA will not need as many widebodies in passenger revenue service. So far there is still no public talk of mass retirements (although they maybe discussing it privately) what this call focused on was cargo. Right now because of reduced passengers service and the fact that cargo carriers can not keep up with demand, shipping prices are sky high and Kirby wants a bigger piece of the profits. What Kirby has tasked our engineering team and our weight and balance team with is to come up with solutions for how UA could load cargo above the wing. Now before I go further let me say this UA is not interested in permanent conversions and there are no plans at this time to launch a dedicated cargo fleet. What Kirby wants to know is how UA can carry cargo above the wing with the seats installed and/or with the seats removed. Keep in mind the floor of a passengers jet is not reinforced like a cargo jet. Also before this can go forward how to accurately account for the placement of the weight above the wing using our current weight and balance system (if our weight and balance system can be modified at all). Lastly how would cargo be 100% secured above the wing with the seats installed and without the seats installed.
Again this was just brought up today and UA is simply exploring the idea of temporarily loading cargo above the wing no final decision has been made one way or the other. In the interim what we do know is this UA will not need 190+ widebodies in passenger service once the pandemic part of this crisis is over. We also know that after 2020 UA has no additional widebody deliveries on the books until the A359 order in 2027 which presents challenges. As far as widebody retirements go I get the feeling UA might retire a small portion of the fleet, but place a larger portion of the widebody fleet into long term storage. I think Kirby is hesitant to discuss retirements publicly because if UA retires a significant portion of our widebody fleet and the recovery really starts to take off in 2022 UA could once again find itself at a real disadvantage seeing that we have no future widebody deliveries scheduled until 2027.
This article may prove of interest on how the Lufthansa group is handling cargo in the passenger cabin: https://www.aircargonews.net/airlines/airlines-fill-passenger-seats-with-cargo-to-meet-demand/. I imagine it would be limited to pretty light things like masks, gowns, and other PPE which could be stuffed in the bins and secured in the seats with the heavy cargo below the floor.