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bkmbr
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Are there any jet alternatives to the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:04 am

I was watching Sam Chui's video on Nolinor's 737-200C video operating on gravel and I was curious to know what type of planes could be used in the future to replace those classic birds in the not too distant future, but I didn't get to see many options. Ignoring the comercial grade turboprops (ATR and Dash 8) on the market today that clearly do not have the same load capacity as a 737-200C, I personally don't see any realistic alternative in the 30,000 lbs / 13 ton payload segment that can operate on unpaved runways.

Today's commercial airplanes will probably never have the ability to operate on a gravel and planes like the new L100J and perhaps a civilian version of the KC-390, have much higher max payload (approximately 44,500 lbs / 20 ton on the L100J and 52,000 lbs / 26 ton on the KC-390) but smaller planes may be too small like the C-295 that have a max payload of approximately 18,500 lbs / 9.25 tons and the AN-178 (ignoring the fact that perhaps it would never be certified to fly in North America ) that have approximately 36,000 lbs / 18 ton of max payload. Perhaps the only jet plane I think could provide a similar alternative to the 737-200C would be the BAE 146 Freighters that appears to be used as well, but the 146 have twice the number of engines and smaller payload (23,000 lbs / 10.5ton).
 
32andBelow
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:54 am

DC9/MD88 can get a gravel kit I think. Engines are up high.
 
Antarius
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:02 am

32andBelow wrote:
DC9/MD88 can get a gravel kit I think. Engines are up high.


I believe so as well. Just needs deflectors. 717 also (although that's derivative of the aforementioned)
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prebennorholm
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:15 am

The alternative is likely to be paved runways.

It isn't all that easy or cheap in areas with permafrost. But it is doable. It works in Greenland, and can be made to work in Canada as well.

And once made it has a lot of advantages.
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bkmbr
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:56 am

prebennorholm wrote:
The alternative is likely to be paved runways.

It isn't all that easy or cheap in areas with permafrost. But it is doable. It works in Greenland, and can be made to work in Canada as well.

And once made it has a lot of advantages.


Will this be a viable option for mines?
 
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CarlosSi
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:57 am

prebennorholm wrote:
The alternative is likely to be paved runways.



Yeah but that’s boring :) .

MD80s are kind of bigger compared to the 732s though. I doubt any of those airlines are going to want MD80s though, even though they’ve just been retired en masse these past couple of years...

There will always be some sort of adaptation required; there isn’t always a 1-1 replacement for retired aircraft types.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:04 am

bkmbr wrote:
prebennorholm wrote:
The alternative is likely to be paved runways.

It isn't all that easy or cheap in areas with permafrost. But it is doable. It works in Greenland, and can be made to work in Canada as well.

And once made it has a lot of advantages.


Will this be a viable option for mines?


Paving worked for Red Dog Mine, most Aussie mines are serviced by air at paved runways.
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:25 am

Far fetched but the MiG 29 has engine inlet shield-like devices. Would it be possible to add these to commercial airliners like the 737NG or 320?
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bkmbr
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:56 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Paving worked for Red Dog Mine, most Aussie mines are serviced by air at paved runways.


Yes, but I imagine that most Aussie mines are also serviced by 365 day road access, not a thing that most Canadian mine have. Probably in some mines equipment and supplier would need to be hauled by aircraft.
 
speedbird52
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:51 am

TWA772LR wrote:
Far fetched but the MiG 29 has engine inlet shield-like devices. Would it be possible to add these to commercial airliners like the 737NG or 320?

better idea! We will replace the 732s with Mig 29s!
 
32andBelow
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:53 am

ConocoPhillips bough q400s so they can start flying directly into their smaller outposts.
 
Noshow
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:29 am

The new (smaller) PC-24 business jet is gravel capable. The VFW 614 was gravel capable as well. If you go big take some C-17.
Otherwise I would opt for some Basler or Twin Otter or maybe some Russian stuff.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:55 am

What about the BAE 146? A bit smaller than the 737-200, but still big enough I think. It has the engines rather high up, so it should work.

The Antonov AN-148 would be another. It's not much different from the BAE 146, other than the number of engines.
 
PA12
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:16 am

Look in YouTube, 727’s in Angola using dirt strips hauling fuel and other supplies to diamond mines.
 
PA12
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:25 am

I just remembered, I read an article long time ago ( think it was Flying magazine) that Pacific Western Airlines of Canada had a couple of 727-100C that flew to Resolute Bay and other towns in the Artic using gravel runways.
 
32andBelow
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:48 am

PatrickZ80 wrote:
What about the BAE 146? A bit smaller than the 737-200, but still big enough I think. It has the engines rather high up, so it should work.

The Antonov AN-148 would be another. It's not much different from the BAE 146, other than the number of engines.

None of these operators want a 4 blower
 
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:19 am

PA12 wrote:
Look in YouTube, 727’s in Angola using dirt strips hauling fuel and other supplies to diamond mines.



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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:01 am

The Antonov 72/74 works fine in Africa, doubt any Canadian company would buy in.
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Phosphorus
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:20 am

32andBelow wrote:
PatrickZ80 wrote:
What about the BAE 146? A bit smaller than the 737-200, but still big enough I think. It has the engines rather high up, so it should work.

The Antonov AN-148 would be another. It's not much different from the BAE 146, other than the number of engines.

None of these operators want a 4 blower

An-148 family are twin-engine planes.
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Stickpusher
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 9:31 am

Permafrost isn't quite the safe bet it used to be, so paving on it wouldn't be a long-term solution. Ironic that global temperature rises might make it easier to access more fossil fuels, it's a bit like the pitcher plant, easier to get into than out of, but the stuff deep inside smells so wonderful...

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/envi ... e-feature/

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/06/ ... ill-a70498
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016 ... lsk-russia

There's also the Airbus A400M, although I would guess that the costs of operating those are not great - then again it has a larger hauling capacity and interior than the C130J and can haul fairly large vehicles, having rather more headroom than the C130 in any variant. The civilian market for such capability is far too niche to make it cost-effective, I would imagine. The BAe 146 has operated from gravel surfaces with no problems, has better engine out characteristics for obvious reasons, was designed from the outset to be freight-friendly, and the operating costs are fairly reasonable even now. There are also a fair few already operating in Canada. If you wanted to move large equipment in then the option would be to do the ad-hoc charters as and when needed.

The capacity problem can always be addressed by a larger fleet, if that fits in with the nature of operations.

The question is whether there needs to be a jet alternative at all. It limits the scope to designs that were produced back when the aim was to extend jets into every corner of the market and the huge rise of them in regional markets as a result, which suddenly made these far-flung locations something to consider, and which British Aerospace made a particularly big deal of along with Fokker/VFW, it was a prime reason such designs existed. Regional jet changes since then have really gone back to profitable core markets and none really service this niche anymore. Meanwhile prop aircraft if anything are doing a better job of handling situations that need ruggedised designs, so the question is whether it really needs to be a jet at all.

If Antonov is out of the question and repurposed military transports likewise, and it has to be a jet, then it's really a contests between designs that were made when remote destinations with minimal infrastructure were inmportant markets, and that leaves us with the BAe146-300 and the Fokker 100, both of which are pretty long in the tooth. There were QC versions of both types, although I expect there are more of the BAe than the Fokker out there now. Age-wise it's a wash between the 732 and the others, so if a long service life is a requirement then it's really down to newer prop designs.
 
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:58 am

TWA772LR wrote:
Far fetched but the MiG 29 has engine inlet shield-like devices. Would it be possible to add these to commercial airliners like the 737NG or 320?

Don't those kill fuel efficiency which isn't too good on the 732 to begin with?
 
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Channex757
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:14 pm

Thinking about the problems comes up with a possible candidate in the A319 with IAE engines. They can be acquired reasonably cheaply nowadays and a conversion job done to add a rough field kit.
The A319 is already operating into Antarctica on ice runways. Why not develop it into a hauler for the rough fields? The engines sit a little higher than Boeing 737s.
 
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SEPilot
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:32 pm

The problem with the 732s is that they are getting scarce, and parts support is dwindling rapidly. That is going to be the same with any old plane, like the MD-80, the 727, and the BAE146. What is needed for a long term solution is a plane currently or recently produced that will do the job. Otherwise the runways need to be paved.
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Veigar
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:36 pm

MD-87?
 
beechnut
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:29 pm

Perhaps someone will come up with a gravel STC for a newer but cheap to acquire aircraft. Though the low-slung engines on the newer 737s might be a problem. A 757 perhaps? Or is that overkill?

Whatever it is, it needs to work in combi configuration with a SCD.

Beech
 
32andBelow
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:34 pm

SEPilot wrote:
The problem with the 732s is that they are getting scarce, and parts support is dwindling rapidly. That is going to be the same with any old plane, like the MD-80, the 727, and the BAE146. What is needed for a long term solution is a plane currently or recently produced that will do the job. Otherwise the runways need to be paved.

The md80s will be supported for decades. Delta/AA just put hundreds of each part into the system.
 
CaptainObvious1
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:50 pm

bkmbr wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Paving worked for Red Dog Mine, most Aussie mines are serviced by air at paved runways.


Yes, but I imagine that most Aussie mines are also serviced by 365 day road access, not a thing that most Canadian mine have. Probably in some mines equipment and supplier would need to be hauled by aircraft.


Red Dog Mine is in Alaska and only has a road to the Chuckchi Sea where for a few months each year they can extract the zinc which has been mined. Getting to and from the mine is by aircraft and AS services the mine a couple of times a week. As GalaxyFlyer pointed out they paved the runway and it works for them.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/ASA ... /PANC/PADG

While the airport and land is owned by the local Native Corporation, the mine is run by Teck.


Captain Obvious.
 
Dominion301
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:28 pm

The closest alternative that’s in production is the Dash 8-400 combi. The thing with MDs is like lightsaber has said, nobody is manufacturing new parts for them any longer. Parts access for 732s would be way bigger. There are a couple of 146s in Northern Canada with Summit but they don’t have the same payload capability as a 732 and the youngest Avro RJ is now late teens itself.

The 732s will still be around at least another decade. After that the solution will be ATRs or DH4s and bigger summer sea lifts. After First Air retired the 727, that was it for high arctic scheduled jet pax ops and they’re now ATR stations.
 
argentinevol98
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:50 pm

What % of parts on a 737 classic are interchangeable with a 732? As far as I am aware there is not an enormous difference in commonality between the classics and the 732s aside from the engines (and avionics on the EFIS models of course but that isn't terribly relevant especially with recent 732 avionics upgrades). There are a ton of 737 classics that have been scrapped that could be a great source for parts not to mention a large global converted freighter fleet keeping up demand for support and supply. Much better than would be the case for the DC-9/MD fleets long-term, I would think.

Now when the 732s cycle out I'm not sure what could or will be done. Flying ATRs and Dash 8s is my most likely guess. Is their a chance one could get CRJs to work? They're a lot smaller though and the most comparable one in size (CRJ1000) is a known run-way hog. Maybe paving strips if possible or perhaps less reliance on a/c somehow?
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FARmd90
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:08 pm

What about a E190/195 fleet? Is it possible to fit it for gravel, I know it’s not done currently. As noted above CRJs might be a good option.
 
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Rajahdhani
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:15 pm

The choice of replacement has to also accomplish two tasks;

- Operarte in a "Combi" format.
- Offer as much fleet commonality as possible with remaining operations of the airline (and potentially be able to be used when said airlines may need to expand to other, prepared fields.

That said, conversion of MD-80/90 and 717s have not been as successful (as 737s) in being converted to freighters/Combi versions. Even at rock-bottom prices, costly upgrades were due to these aircraft and when completed - would still present an aircraft that is older (than market available options), likely coming to increasing checks/costs even with hundreds in the desert.

The new reality is that they may have to go smaller (as other have mentioned, to workable alternatives - such as the ATR, or Dash-8), at higher frequencies, and with the aircraft pushed to the upper limits of their ranges. They are already in a Combi-esque configuration, perform well on the fields (high engines, STOL aircraft), and might offer (at multiple frequencies) better flexibility via frequencies.
 
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flyingclrs727
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:47 pm

Would it be possible to mount PW JT-8D engines on a low cycle 737-500?
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:08 pm

flyingclrs727 wrote:
Would it be possible to mount PW JT-8D engines on a low cycle 737-500?

You mean -- like getting a Supplemental Type Certificate for redesigning the airplane, around the new (well, actually old, but meaning "different") powerplant?
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144modeller
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:24 pm

Digging deep into my memory now. Didn't Indian Airlines operate some A320's that were specially equipped for less-than-perfect runways? They had four-wheel undercarriage bogies. Or was that for other reasons?
 
bkmbr
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:39 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
The choice of replacement has to also accomplish two tasks;

- Operarte in a "Combi" format.
- Offer as much fleet commonality as possible with remaining operations of the airline (and potentially be able to be used when said airlines may need to expand to other, prepared fields.


Maybe and alternative would be going to bigger aircraft and start looking for the military cargo planes. Embraer was about to offer a civilian version of the KC-390 (they already received the certification of the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency and a LOI with SkyTech for 6 units) and the new L100J was about to enter the market as well. They also have the Russian aircraft as well.
 
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Boeing757100
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:31 pm

32andBelow wrote:
DC9/MD88 can get a gravel kit I think. Engines are up high.



Yup. The engines being up high could maybe mean less debris. Plus, the T-tail is more iconic.
 
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Boeing757100
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:32 pm

CarlosSi wrote:
prebennorholm wrote:
The alternative is likely to be paved runways.



Yeah but that’s boring :) .

MD80s are kind of bigger compared to the 732s though. I doubt any of those airlines are going to want MD80s though, even though they’ve just been retired en masse these past couple of years...

There will always be some sort of adaptation required; there isn’t always a 1-1 replacement for retired aircraft types.




The DC-9-10, DC-9-30, and DC-9-40 are perfectly sized to compete with the 732s.
 
klm617
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:39 pm

The Indian Airlines Airbus A320's with the bogie landing gear.
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Aesma
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sat Jun 13, 2020 11:19 pm

I don't know exactly what they do with the aircraft but that has to be the starting point. For example I see mention of combis, I thought those were banned now (not old ones, but making new ones) ?

If they haul something big that can only fit on a 737 or bigger, then they need a 737 or bigger. If that piece of equipment it transported very rarely, contract out a C-130 or whatever for these times. Now if it's more general cargo and passengers, use smaller planes, more often.
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
 
strfyr51
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:10 am

PA12 wrote:
I just remembered, I read an article long time ago ( think it was Flying magazine) that Pacific Western Airlines of Canada had a couple of 727-100C that flew to Resolute Bay and other towns in the Artic using gravel runways.

some of the Air Canada 727's flew into Unimproved runways as I recall, they had 50X20 main wheels where the United 727's used the 49X17 main wheels. When I asked the AC rep what the difference was for he told me the 50X20 had better stopping power on Unimproved and snow covered Runways. I didn't know but it seemed like an ok answer as heir L1011's also flew the 50X20 mains as well. I saw their A320's in SFO a lot and they did things a little different so I'm sure they had their reasons.
 
Dominion301
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:11 am

klm617 wrote:
The Indian Airlines Airbus A320's with the bogie landing gear.


That wouldn’t do anything to help on gravel/dirt.

The future of places like YCB and YCO will be DH8s and ATRs. However, 5T’s two remaining 732s still have a lot of life left in them. 5T now rarely use the 732s to anywhere beyond those two destinations out of YZF. Everywhere else they use the 733/734 fleet almost exclusively.

The future of mines will probably be split ops between Hercs bringing the equipment and supplies, with Dash 8s bringing in the workers.

Again though, it’ll be at least a decade before the combi operators will be forced to make a post-732 combi decision. See AS as an example for what will happen in Canada.
 
MADPYRO
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:01 am

Boeing757100 wrote:
CarlosSi wrote:
prebennorholm wrote:
The alternative is likely to be paved runways.



Yeah but that’s boring :) .

MD80s are kind of bigger compared to the 732s though. I doubt any of those airlines are going to want MD80s though, even though they’ve just been retired en masse these past couple of years...

There will always be some sort of adaptation required; there isn’t always a 1-1 replacement for retired aircraft types.




The DC-9-10, DC-9-30, and DC-9-40 are perfectly sized to compete with the 732s.


Except nobody even flies the -40 anymore. As for the -10 and -30, you'd struggle to find one that hasn't been converted to full freight.
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Dominion301
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:09 pm

Aesma wrote:
I don't know exactly what they do with the aircraft but that has to be the starting point. For example I see mention of combis, I thought those were banned now (not old ones, but making new ones) ?

If they haul something big that can only fit on a 737 or bigger, then they need a 737 or bigger. If that piece of equipment it transported very rarely, contract out a C-130 or whatever for these times. Now if it's more general cargo and passengers, use smaller planes, more often.


The FAA banned new combis with a movable bulkhead. However, Transborder Canada still permit then. First Air about 18 years ago worked with TC to invent the ATR 42 combi with a movable bulkhead to gradually replace their HS748 fleet. The ATR’s bulkhead though is much more complicated to move than the 748. The Hawkers could be adjusted in about an hour, while the ATRs take several hours to move.

strfyr51 wrote:
PA12 wrote:
I just remembered, I read an article long time ago ( think it was Flying magazine) that Pacific Western Airlines of Canada had a couple of 727-100C that flew to Resolute Bay and other towns in the Artic using gravel runways.

some of the Air Canada 727's flew into Unimproved runways as I recall, they had 50X20 main wheels where the United 727's used the 49X17 main wheels. When I asked the AC rep what the difference was for he told me the 50X20 had better stopping power on Unimproved and snow covered Runways. I didn't know but it seemed like an ok answer as heir L1011's also flew the 50X20 mains as well. I saw their A320's in SFO a lot and they did things a little different so I'm sure they had their reasons.


AC has never operated to unpaved runways with jets. Their former AC connector partner NWT Air did way back when. However, winter ops in Canada are of course on the whole far harsher than in the US.
 
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leleko747
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Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:16 pm

Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:42 pm

How about the Lockheed LM-100J? A brand new civilian version of the C-130.
It can haul some cargo, land in unprepared strips and is a modern aircraft, with upgraded engines and avionics.
I wonder when people will understand:
Embraer 190 or simply E190, not ERJ-190. E-Jets are NOT ERJs!
Boeing 747-8, not Boeing 747-800. Same goes for 787.
Airbus A320, not Airbus 320.
Airbii does not exist.
 
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Rajahdhani
Posts: 565
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:13 pm

Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:20 pm

bkmbr wrote:
Rajahdhani wrote:
The choice of replacement has to also accomplish two tasks;

- Operarte in a "Combi" format.
- Offer as much fleet commonality as possible with remaining operations of the airline (and potentially be able to be used when said airlines may need to expand to other, prepared fields.


Maybe and alternative would be going to bigger aircraft and start looking for the military cargo planes. Embraer was about to offer a civilian version of the KC-390 (they already received the certification of the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency and a LOI with SkyTech for 6 units) and the new L100J was about to enter the market as well. They also have the Russian aircraft as well.


I though so as well, however the issue remains with viability of the passenger operations, as well as the availability of parts via more established productions lines. Sadly, neither Embraer, and to a much larger extent - the Russians - have not found that issue (parts availability and access to global availability of parts) to be particularly difficult. Both ATR, and Bombardier, by their abilities to provide parts (and aircraft from larger commercial pools, with which to source new/used aircraft) presents an airline with better options, especially considering that based on the use of the aircraft - maintenance and parts availability could easily break the operation.

Oddly enough I could see a C-130s as a decent alternative for the cargo lifting, with a small passenger cabin. That said, it is not a great passenger experience, and based on the past and the way that the tickets are sold - it seems like it might not be a first choice with passengers.
 
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ikolkyo
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Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:22 pm

leleko747 wrote:
How about the Lockheed LM-100J? A brand new civilian version of the C-130.
It can haul some cargo, land in unprepared strips and is a modern aircraft, with upgraded engines and avionics.

Don’t forget it costs far too much and is complete overkill to replace a 732.
 
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Rajahdhani
Posts: 565
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:13 pm

Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:26 pm

leleko747 wrote:
How about the Lockheed LM-100J? A brand new civilian version of the C-130.
It can haul some cargo, land in unprepared strips and is a modern aircraft, with upgraded engines and avionics.


I thought so as well, and perhaps the best medium-long term option - however many of routes rely on the passenger demand to determine/supplement the cargo lift. As they do compete - passenger experience is a selling point, and if given the option - I doubt that passengers would prefer that unless it were significantly less expensive.
 
IWMBH
Posts: 612
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:01 pm

Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:37 pm

Maybe some converted MD-88’s?
 
CanadianNorth
Posts: 3252
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2002 11:41 am

Are there any jet alternatives to the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 6:22 pm

The 737-200C is/was nearly a perfect aircraft for the job. 727s worked well too, but they're pretty much gone now, as the 737 can do most of the same for 1/3 cheaper.

Sad to see the 737-200Cs fading, I grew up around them and worked on one for years so I will admit I have a bit of a soft spot for them and lots of good memories with JT8Ds as background music.

The problem with the 737-200Cs is they are cycling out. Boeing has it on their website at https://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/articles/2012_q4/2/ (Side note: most Boeing and DC/MD jetliners hour/cycle limits are listed there in a chart near the bottom, it's worth a look for any true avgeek) that those birds are only good for 75,000 cycles. Fuel burn from the old JT8s, the maintenance associated with old worn out airplanes, and keeping crew training up to date on what for many operators would now a be small, low utilization subfleet certainly doesn't help their case either. The only thing saved them this long is how good they are at what they do, lack of direct replacement, and readily available spare parts (somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80% commonality with the 737-3/4/5 if I remember right, and although JT8Ds are old they went on just about everything back in the day so lots were built).

What I've been seeing most of them replaced with is either a paved runway and 737-3/4/5, or more frequency with ATRs and Dash-8s combis and HS-748, ATR and Dash-8 freighters. The occasional item that physically wouldn't fit in one of those can wait for a boat if it's a coastal community or wait for a winter road to be punched through in the case of an inland community, or if it's a hurry then something can be chartered. Nolinor and Canadian North still operate a couple of 737-200Cs they save for specialized work example.

No all season roads to a lot of these communities because in most cases you'd need to build a road thousands of miles long through mountain ranges, over multiple rivers, and then through huge sections of marsh, swamp, and tundra. Then maintain and plow that road through all sorts of extreme weather, and just about every year you'd be re-doing a section due to frost heaves. All of that would be for a community of a couple hundred people, most of which has a boat every summer or a winter road every other winter for big heavy long lasting stuff and a scheduled flight come through several times per week that can bring you people and groceries and mail. The 737-200C really shined in locations where road transport was often avoided for good reasons.

Paving the runways up north is possible, the only catch is it requires millions of dollars spent at a remote mine or a small community (most of which probably can't afford it themselves and would need more govy handouts to do it), plus hundreds of thousands more spent on maintenance as the frost heaves and whatever else do their thing. With a gravel strip you just just run any old grader over it and then spend an afternoon on any old packer and your done, with a proper hard surface you need a garage full of special equipment and the people to operate it. It's doable, but often at more cost than anyone is willing to spend.

As for replacement ideas, to be an idea replacement you'd need to present an airplane that's younger and better on fuel than the 737-200, can do gravel runways, and has a combi option. The latter two are the big catch, and the problem is for airliners getting those things certified is a huge cost and a pain, so a good replacement would have those already approved through the manufacturer or an STC. Not trying to shoot anyone down here but just pointing out some of the reasons I can think of why they're not commonly used...

ATR: Smaller and slower than a 737 for sure, but they are reasonably easy to find and operate, and are combi and gravel capable. Many northern routes now have ATR combis on them with frequency increases as required, and charters can be arranged for the occasional load that doesn't fit. Seems to be how most gravel runway communities are being served now.
Dash-8: Basically the same story as the ATR.
BAe 146: Fair option for mine crew changes and things like that, but no combi option. Also not a super young airplane any more either, and the four engines to break and fix isn't ideal either. Basically yes it works, but it's quite a bit more to run than the ATR or Dash and still not as capable or versatile as the 737-200C.
DC-9: Probably could work, but all the same aging problems as the 737-200, thirsty engines on a tired airframe. Plus the narrower cabin I don't think fits all the same pallets and containers as the 737-200Cs have been using for decades up north.
MD-81/82/83/87/88/90: Might work, but I've yet to see a combi one, nor a gravel kitted one. Also one concern I can name would be yes the engines are high up, but would the main gear throw any gravel into them? (Actual question as I don't know enough about the MD-80 to say).
717: Limited airframes for sale, parts availability might be an issue, no formal gravel kit, no combi options.
737-3/4/5: Works good as long as there's a paved runway, and this seems to be the way many places are doing it. If the runway can be practically paved, then it is and in comes the 737-3/4/5 in most cases. -300 and -400 are also certified as combis. Not as great as the -200 because the bulkhead is in a fixed permanent location instead of moveable due to the newer regulations (-200s are grandfathered through), but still better than nothing. The -500 is not because I'm told the CFM hanging out front and the shortie fuselage combination would mean the engine inlet would be in the way of trying to load through the standard issue 737 cargo door. No gravel kit because the CFMs suck in too much air too close to the ground to make a gravel kit practical at a reasonable price. JT8Ds on a classic probably aint going to happen, it probably could technically be done but you'd have to spend millions of dollars on an old airplane to make it worse at 9 out of 10 missions you could do with it. Probably cheaper and easier to just fix an old -200.
737NG: I would imagine it would be pretty much the same story as the -3/4/5, if someone were to certify it as a combi, which I haven't seen yet.
727: All the same issues as the 737-200C plus an extra engine to fix and an extra pilot to feed. As a side note I've heard that when Canadian formed their subsidiary Canadian North to operate in the far north AC floated the idea of off roading their 727s to compete, but instead opted to farm out the work to people with more experience at northern flying and got together with Northwest Territorial and branded it as NWT Air. For these Air Canada Connector schedules initially L188s were used and then 737-200Cs were aquired. Eventually Canadian North separated from Canadian Airlines and became an independent airline, meanwhile NWT Air was sold out to First Air.
A318/319/320/321: No combi, no gravel kit. There are A319s out there operating on rough fields and ice strips, but not on gravel as far as I'm aware. A320s are out there with extra wheels on the main gear for softer rougher ground, but again not for actual gravel runway use as far as I know. The gravel being thown up at the underside and flaps and being sucked into the engines is just as much of an issue on these northern strips as the roughness and softness is. The engines do sit higher than the CFM powered 737s, but still would require some gravel protection which to my knowledge has not been developed yet.
C130/L-100: A lot of airplane, a lot of cost, not a lot of passenger comforts, not sure if it's certified to carry people in Canada, technically would work yes but I'm not sure you'd be saving any money vs just keeping the 732s going.
AN-148 or other Russian/Ukrainian/Etc. types: Pretty sure many are not certified in Canada, not sure if it has a combi, probably pretty hard to get parts for. One of the nice things about the 737 in Canada is training is easy to arrange, spare parts are easy to source, and specialized tooling and knowledge of the airplane is plentiful.
HS-748, like a 747 but better!
 
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flyingclrs727
Posts: 2581
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:44 am

Re: There's any jet alternatives for the 737-200C for gravel operations?

Sun Jun 14, 2020 7:32 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
flyingclrs727 wrote:
Would it be possible to mount PW JT-8D engines on a low cycle 737-500?

You mean -- like getting a Supplemental Type Certificate for redesigning the airplane, around the new (well, actually old, but meaning "different") powerplant?


It has the same wing as the 737-200 and has about the same fuselage length. It was designed as a direct replacement for the 737-200. They would have to get an STC.

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