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lightsaber
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Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:16 pm

We have another thread discussing Delta's expanded planned fleet retirements:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1452201


I thought it worthwhile to start a thread on the fate of the Boeing 717.

There are only 141 in active Duty:
https://www.airfleets.net/exploit/production-b717.htm

Delta:88
Cobham (for QANTAS): 20
Hawaiian: 19
Volotea: 14

An aircraft requires economy of scale to support. It takes a batch of 25 spare parts to rebuild them and Delta was paying the vendors to keep certified if there wasn't enough work for a batch every year. With only 53 in service, we can look at who would pay a premium to keep them in service. In my opinion:
Volotea: They were replacing with used A319CEOs as is. As the cost of maintenance goes up, they'll return their 14 to Boeing as leases expire.
Cobham: They were already looking for a replacement pre-Covid19. I see no replacement the next few years, but I expect a hearty competition between the A220 (either model) and the E2-195 as well as the airliner looked at used aircraft as well as other new. With A330s in the main fleet giving cockpit commonality with A320s and 737-800s, the plummet in aircraft resale values makes which way Qantas goes up in the air, but it will be a brutal 4 way competition with new competing with used.
Hawaiian: They will be in a pickle. The 717 works well for them and used models will be cheap. But the era where the MD-80s paid for consumables (window and other seals, breaks, landing gear, and other shared components) is over. Due to the shelf life of many of the seals, I expect a few years of only using scavenged parts until the need to return to a devastated vendor network. While I expect Hawaiian to buy up used examples, the fact Boeing will own 102 of the used B717s prevents a sudden flood of used parts. This will get interesting.

The reality is, to keep the type going, Boeing must find another user, but why would they compete against used 737NGs and the MAX? Airbus will want to entice operators to both the A220 and the A320NEO, or just let them soak up some of the hoard of A320CEOs coming off lease.

Embraer will be hungry too. It takes 300+ aircraft in service to ensure a batch of 25 rebuilds ever 15 months (or earlier).

This isn't the 737 and A320 where a minimum of two batches a year are run on rebuilds due to the shear volume of the market. This includes the V2500 as servicing 4000+ ensures it is more economical to do 2 batches a year instead of one. Yes, this means the CFM-56 with 25,000+ in service is an industry of its own. It is half the engines out there, so obviously a whole different discussion on economics of scale on maintenance. The BR700 isn't bad thanks to so many on business jets. The BR720 doesn't drive the over-haul economics in the least (except for Delta, the largest operator, who will fade from duty). So for once, I'm not discussing the engines driving airframe economics of scale (except for the turbine clearance control valve and a small number of parts that had to be custom for the BR720 as more precision and durability were required in commercial duty.) But just as every MD-80 operator was relying on AA to fund the parts market (and it was a shock to the market when AA said "no more, the vendors are on their own.")

Now, I'm curious. When AA made their announcement (always at this time of year, for this is when service contracts are signed for the next year) Delta had already signed their next year of MD-80 service contracts (so vendors lost money without the AA funding). I'm curious if Cobrahm and Hawaiian have signed their 2021 service contracts. I'm curious is Delta has enough parts (a la MD-80s) or if they won't be signing the B717 engine and airframe service contracts for 2021. Knowing Delta, they'll stockpile a good estimate and work on green time for everything else. Did they sign a service contact for 2021 or has the green time burndown started? Of course, lease terms could complicate this. Unfortunately for Boeing, Delta is holding a better negotiating hand in this poker game.

I see a short life post Delta due to the need for economics of scale in maintaining the B717 (again, I exclude the engines for once). I am very interested in links and references on how the B717 could be kept viable long term. Now let's quantify this discussion; I can see it easily staying in operation until 2027 off scavanged parts. I have trouble finding an economical way to do so past 2030. I would like to know real solutions based on the fact manufacturing, including rebuilds, is just not economical below batches of 25.

Although flying past 2022 implies Delta has found seats. Hmmm... Personally, I will laugh heartily if ex-MD-80 seats from the retired DL MD-88 fleet are rebuilt and reused. Its what I would do for such a short timeline. Were those seats effected? We know the B717 seats had issues and the FAA only grandfathered the in service fleet to 2022 per many a prior B717 thread discussion. I do not know if the MD-80 seats have a longer allowed usable life.

Lightsaber

Late edit, a link on the B717 seats:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/willhorton ... 8233d34165

The FAA in June 2017 issued an airworthiness directive requiring certain seats on 717s and other aircraft be replaced since they may cause neck injury during a crash. The FAA gave five years to replace the seats, so Delta would need to replace any impacted 717 seats by mid-2022.

Purchasing new seats, taking the aircraft out of service and installing the seats would incur costs. The investment return changes if Delta does not want to keep the aircraft much past 2022.
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:00 pm

Keeping 717s around when there are so many other options, such as the A220, on the table, is barely worth considering. I'm afraid it's going to go the way of the DC-9, which was an incredible workhorse for NW and other carriers when it was around. Boeing's acquisition of Douglas doomed mainline aircraft of that size, so the writing was always on the wall for any Douglas-related product. What's sad about the 717 is that if Douglas were still around, the US might have created another variant of the type that would be competitive against the A220, but alas that will never happen, and especially because of Boeing's failed merger with Embraer. I just don't see any takers for the 717s given the glut of aircraft on the market and the difficulty of certifying vendors to work on them, and lower prices on canceled A220 orders will likely be too good to pass up.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:23 pm

Volotea was already in the process of getting rid of the 717. I would say QANTASLink will probably remove them too.

However, the 717 is perfect for the island hopping routes (extremely short range and extremely quick turn-around) for Hawaiian. Its fleet is large enough to sustain by itself too. I would think HA may try to hang onto the type.
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:29 pm

Some spares to HA, but the 717 is pretty much done.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:33 pm

About players' individual motivation:
1) Volotea was planning on retiring them anyway indeed, and they appear to be gradually coming off lease. There appears to be no reason why, in pandemic world, they should hold on to these.
2) Cobham is an interesting case. Pre-COVID, they looked at adding to their 717 fleet. In pandemic world, adding to 717 fleet might actually make a lot of sense, especially if frames are cheap enough. Capital is at premium, splurging on shiny new jets is not the wisest of ideas, if decent second-hand does the job affordably.
3) Hawaiian is the key. They need 717's and everybody knows that. They might increase the fleet somewhat; they might actually like to have spare fresh frames at low cost -- to replace theirs -- which were too long exposed to salt-water breeze.

Gaming this tells us that there just might be a solution, that makes sense -- with Hawaiian and Cobham/Qantas hatching a deal, where they increase their 717 fleets to the point, where it becomes viable from fleet support point of view. Qantas has a stronger hand, as they have reasonably better set of options than Hawaiian, who's utterly beholden to 717. Hawaiian would thus end up contributing more than their "fair share".

Cooperation of owners of Delta and Volotea frames would be needed. Delta's fleet, AFAIR, is leased from Boeing, with exception of a couple of frames, owned direct. Who owns Volotea's frames?
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:38 pm

Maybe Delta will get a 3-year extension from the FAA on the B717 seat AD so they can run them out through 2025, as planned? But even if that fails, could they be able to strip out seats from their MD88's still at BYH and install them in the remaining B717's by 2022? I think the active DL B717 fleet will probably be where it is now (around 45+/-) and the rest will effectively be retired.

As for the future of the B717 at DL, the fact that they have been in service 20+/- years is remarkable considering it has been treated like an orphan aircraft in the Boeing line. It proved to be a good aircraft for sub-500 mile, out-and-backs for Delta from their hubs to small/medium-sized markets. But I think post-COVID, those current B717 turns may be replaced with A220's or A319's, or relegated to regional partners, or simply discontinued.

Hawaiian may pick up some ex-DL frames with plenty of green time left and low corrosion to replace some of those in their fleet of 13 that will be hitting HVM after working hard in a salt air climate. This will help Hawaiian push the re-fleet decision down the road until the latter half of the 2020's, when (hopefully) better financial times can be anticipated.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:12 pm

In a pandemic world with traffic predicted to return to pre-covid levels in 3-4 years from now,why would Volotea be in a hurry to get rid of their 717s and fly emptier, heavier, costlier A319s on routes that even a 717 is flying half-empty now, more so on a 156-seat model..? DL of course has alternatives like the A221 but HA and V7 dont have anything in the 100-120 seat category
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:35 pm

I would expect QFLink to look at taking more 717s, in an post Covid-19 world.

QFLink has an lower operating cost than QF with its 738s, and with reduced demand for travel in Australia. You could find more flights between SYD,BNE,MEL to be come operated by the 717s. With the older 738s being retired.

The reduction of staffing costs of using Link versus Mainline would be an extra incentive. QF had already started to move the 717s to the East Coast to o operate more of the golden triangle routes.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:00 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
About players' individual motivation:
1) Volotea was planning on retiring them anyway indeed, and they appear to be gradually coming off lease. There appears to be no reason why, in pandemic world, they should hold on to these.
2) Cobham is an interesting case. Pre-COVID, they looked at adding to their 717 fleet. In pandemic world, adding to 717 fleet might actually make a lot of sense, especially if frames are cheap enough. Capital is at premium, splurging on shiny new jets is not the wisest of ideas, if decent second-hand does the job affordably.
3) Hawaiian is the key. They need 717's and everybody knows that. They might increase the fleet somewhat; they might actually like to have spare fresh frames at low cost -- to replace theirs -- which were too long exposed to salt-water breeze.

Gaming this tells us that there just might be a solution, that makes sense -- with Hawaiian and Cobham/Qantas hatching a deal, where they increase their 717 fleets to the point, where it becomes viable from fleet support point of view. Qantas has a stronger hand, as they have reasonably better set of options than Hawaiian, who's utterly beholden to 717. Hawaiian would thus end up contributing more than their "fair share".

Cooperation of owners of Delta and Volotea frames would be needed. Delta's fleet, AFAIR, is leased from Boeing, with exception of a couple of frames, owned direct. Who owns Volotea's frames?

Boeing owns Volotea's frames.

You have good logic, but with Delta and Volotea retiring 102 frames between them, the cost of spares becomes excessive. It isn't economical to support a tiny fleet, not when the DC-9 and MD-80 were funding production of so many spares (e.g., door and window seals).

Cobham was looking at the A220 pre-Covid19. Knowing that maintenance costs will climb 25% to 30% due to declining economics of scale puts a damper on the prospects in Australia.

For HA, they will fly for longer, but cannot support the fleet. Rare birds are costly. e.g., FedEx had to pay the costs to keep the 727 flying, but they were helped by JT8D economics if scale until AA announced the MD-80 retirement.

I love the 717, my favorite Douglas T-tail. The last one was delivered in 2006, so for tax purposes, it should be fully depreciated in 2025.


Lightsaber
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:14 pm

marcogr12 wrote:
In a pandemic world with traffic predicted to return to pre-covid levels in 3-4 years from now,why would Volotea be in a hurry to get rid of their 717s and fly emptier, heavier, costlier A319s on routes that even a 717 is flying half-empty now, more so on a 156-seat model..? DL of course has alternatives like the A221 but HA and V7 dont have anything in the 100-120 seat category

Why get rid of 717s? Because the time is coming when they will be impossible to maintain. That is Lightsaber's central thesis. Without DL's volume of parts buys the supplier network is going to wither quickly. It's been mentioned, but look at what happened when AA dropped MD-80s. Now start from a much smaller base.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:35 pm

lightsaber wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
About players' individual motivation:
1) Volotea was planning on retiring them anyway indeed, and they appear to be gradually coming off lease. There appears to be no reason why, in pandemic world, they should hold on to these.
2) Cobham is an interesting case. Pre-COVID, they looked at adding to their 717 fleet. In pandemic world, adding to 717 fleet might actually make a lot of sense, especially if frames are cheap enough. Capital is at premium, splurging on shiny new jets is not the wisest of ideas, if decent second-hand does the job affordably.
3) Hawaiian is the key. They need 717's and everybody knows that. They might increase the fleet somewhat; they might actually like to have spare fresh frames at low cost -- to replace theirs -- which were too long exposed to salt-water breeze.

Gaming this tells us that there just might be a solution, that makes sense -- with Hawaiian and Cobham/Qantas hatching a deal, where they increase their 717 fleets to the point, where it becomes viable from fleet support point of view. Qantas has a stronger hand, as they have reasonably better set of options than Hawaiian, who's utterly beholden to 717. Hawaiian would thus end up contributing more than their "fair share".

Cooperation of owners of Delta and Volotea frames would be needed. Delta's fleet, AFAIR, is leased from Boeing, with exception of a couple of frames, owned direct. Who owns Volotea's frames?

Boeing owns Volotea's frames.

You have good logic, but with Delta and Volotea retiring 102 frames between them, the cost of spares becomes excessive. It isn't economical to support a tiny fleet, not when the DC-9 and MD-80 were funding production of so many spares (e.g., door and window seals).

Cobham was looking at the A220 pre-Covid19. Knowing that maintenance costs will climb 25% to 30% due to declining economics of scale puts a damper on the prospects in Australia.

For HA, they will fly for longer, but cannot support the fleet. Rare birds are costly. e.g., FedEx had to pay the costs to keep the 727 flying, but they were helped by JT8D economics if scale until AA announced the MD-80 retirement.

I love the 717, my favorite Douglas T-tail. The last one was delivered in 2006, so for tax purposes, it should be fully depreciated in 2025.


Lightsaber

All true.
To be more effective at this, I (not only I, obviously) would need some numbers.
What does your experience and knowledge tell you? What is the number of 717s that need to remain in operation, for the ecosystem to remain viable?
(I know it's not a simple question; there are variables -- how much mutual support can be expected from surviving MD-8X fleets; how "dead" will be the prospects of the Delta fleet at retirement -- having used up all consumables and spares and green time, and burned off all supplier base -- or slightly less disastrous. Etc, etc)
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:49 pm

Delta said they'd retire their 717s by Dec 2025. Hawaiian said they'd keep their 717s until at least 2025.

Doesn't that point to the 717s demise 2025 or thereafter? Maybe Hawaiian will have some opportunity to operate post-2025 utilizing parts scavenged from the Delta aircraft?
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:15 am

A bit left of field, but if the price is right, Alliance Airlines could take a look at a few. They have bought up every Fokker 70/100 they could get their hands on for a song and are turning a healthy profit with their FIFO charters and growing RPT network. QLink/Cobham could be a contender as well. Not sure if investing in brand new, expensive A220s, as originally planned, would be worth the risk in the current environment.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:30 am

soyuz wrote:
A bit left of field, but if the price is right, Alliance Airlines could take a look at a few. They have bought up every Fokker 70/100 they could get their hands on for a song and are turning a healthy profit with their FIFO charters and growing RPT network. QLink/Cobham could be a contender as well. Not sure if investing in brand new, expensive A220s, as originally planned, would be worth the risk in the current environment.


Alliance Airlines has just purchased around 15-20 e190s second hand.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:42 am

If you want to save yourself reading an overly long reply of mine below, the thesis is that HA and Cobham must fork over about $25 million per year to keep the fleet certified (not going to happen).

Anything less, they can do it, but they take on more liability (not a huge amount more) and are limited to standard repairs and whatever parts they buy soon (very soon, bummer it is during a time where cash flow is precious).

Phosphorus wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
About players' individual motivation:
1) Volotea was planning on retiring them anyway indeed, and they appear to be gradually coming off lease. There appears to be no reason why, in pandemic world, they should hold on to these.
2) Cobham is an interesting case. Pre-COVID, they looked at adding to their 717 fleet. In pandemic world, adding to 717 fleet might actually make a lot of sense, especially if frames are cheap enough. Capital is at premium, splurging on shiny new jets is not the wisest of ideas, if decent second-hand does the job affordably.
3) Hawaiian is the key. They need 717's and everybody knows that. They might increase the fleet somewhat; they might actually like to have spare fresh frames at low cost -- to replace theirs -- which were too long exposed to salt-water breeze.

Gaming this tells us that there just might be a solution, that makes sense -- with Hawaiian and Cobham/Qantas hatching a deal, where they increase their 717 fleets to the point, where it becomes viable from fleet support point of view. Qantas has a stronger hand, as they have reasonably better set of options than Hawaiian, who's utterly beholden to 717. Hawaiian would thus end up contributing more than their "fair share".

Cooperation of owners of Delta and Volotea frames would be needed. Delta's fleet, AFAIR, is leased from Boeing, with exception of a couple of frames, owned direct. Who owns Volotea's frames?

Boeing owns Volotea's frames.

You have good logic, but with Delta and Volotea retiring 102 frames between them, the cost of spares becomes excessive. It isn't economical to support a tiny fleet, not when the DC-9 and MD-80 were funding production of so many spares (e.g., door and window seals).

Cobham was looking at the A220 pre-Covid19. Knowing that maintenance costs will climb 25% to 30% due to declining economics of scale puts a damper on the prospects in Australia.

For HA, they will fly for longer, but cannot support the fleet. Rare birds are costly. e.g., FedEx had to pay the costs to keep the 727 flying, but they were helped by JT8D economics if scale until AA announced the MD-80 retirement.

I love the 717, my favorite Douglas T-tail. The last one was delivered in 2006, so for tax purposes, it should be fully depreciated in 2025.


Lightsaber

All true.
To be more effective at this, I (not only I, obviously) would need some numbers.
What does your experience and knowledge tell you? What is the number of 717s that need to remain in operation, for the ecosystem to remain viable?
(I know it's not a simple question; there are variables -- how much mutual support can be expected from surviving MD-8X fleets; how "dead" will be the prospects of the Delta fleet at retirement -- having used up all consumables and spares and green time, and burned off all supplier base -- or slightly less disastrous. Etc, etc)

My experience tells me:
1. Over 300 of a type (with one type of engine) in service, don't worry about it, there is so much profit to be made supporting the plane, it just happens.
2. It costs the same to make 1 of a part as 25, so vendors will only do batches of 25. They need to do a batch every 15 months or too much 'tribal knowledge' is lost. Yes, processes are supposed to be clear enough, but there is always something that must be remembered. So 25 aircraft * 12months/year / 15 month interval * (8 to 12 years between overhauls for low utilization aircraft) means we need 160 to 240 aircraft in service to ensure timely spares.
i. spares a lot are used of, such as window seals, must be made in larger batches. So having DL buy them for dozens of MD-80s and MD-90s kept up the economics of the B717 fleet.
ii. Related aircraft count by the shared cost. For example, the BR700 has over 3,600 in service, plus some related parts in the pearl. Because 70% to 80% of the B717 engine is the same as those business jet engines, I don't worry about the engines. https://www.rolls-royce.com/products-an ... br710.aspx (Note, prior I quoted BR700s delivered, in service is the metric that matters.)

When AA cancelled their support contract on the MD-80, Delta had already signed up for another year of support. Since everyone expected AA to sign up for another year, Delta received a year of discounted support. During that year, they estimated the MD-80 time left in the fleet and Delta wisely refurbished parts to maintain the fleet (at that point, there were so many MD-80 parts on the secondary market, buying new was a waste of money). For many MD-80 parts, that was the last refurbishment. The engines stopped later (due to stricter safety guidelines), but many engine parts were going off scavenged green time parts.

So take HA and Cobhan. They could keep operating as long as they go out and buy breaks, seals, valves, and get the rebuilds done in the next batch. Since Delta is retiring the planes in 2025 and they have a good history of predicting green time, Delta will be ordering their last batches of rebuilt parts now (if they didn't last year) to go until 2025. So this is the last economical chance for HA and Cobhan to get parts for the 717. From then on, they will have to incentivise the vendor (usually a minimum batch of 25 at 2.5X to 2.8X the prior cost). For example, certified valves that were rebuilt for $1,500 before will cost about $100,000 usd for a batch of 25. They'll the same almost $100,000 for one. Before, Boeing was paying an annual fee to ensure spare valves were on the shelf for $2,500 each. With this announcement, all new build parts just went up in price 3X (that is just how the industry works), unless someone orders a batch of 25, where they will get 25 new valves for $75,000.

But at this time Hawaiian and Cobham are short on cash. To adequately build up stores is a $25 million usd to $50 million usd expense for a fleet of 20 aircraft and they really should go out and buy an additional 5 spare engines because the turn times on engines is about to become 6 months as soon as Delta stops ordering overhauls (there will be parts that have to be rebuilt that there is just no choice but to wait for those parts).

This is what I mean by a 30% increase in maintenance costs. It includes paying a small team to constantly be hunting for parts in short supply. Stockpiling batches of parts is pricey too. Bummer that cost must be heavily paid in advance.

There are many good articles on the conundrum Hawaiian is in for replacing the 717 (hint, the Simpleflying one makes some really bad assumptions, so if you use that as a reference, I will have to point out the faults, e.g., they assume fuel burn that... is just an opposite assumption):
https://www.jeffsetter.com/the-hawaiian ... conundrum/

Note, the above article notes peak season 717 utilization, it averages about 14 cycles per day.


Take N488HA, LN55001, Hawaiians oldest 717.
https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Haw ... e-b717.htm

Put 488HA (no leading "N") into the FAA database:
https://av-info.faa.gov/sdrx/Query.aspx

The latest maintenance incident was on 4/18/2020 (probably a parked aircraft) with 52,344 cycles and a mere 34,799 flight hours. (Note, the incident was a battery and charger replaced for some emergency exit lights, whoop de doo... Normal line maintenance stuff).

So I find it hilarious people are talking about these aircraft, with a limit of validity of 110,000 cycles and 150,000 hours is somehow approaching work out when Hawaiian ran a DC-9 to 95,132 flight cycles: viewtopic.php?t=748823

Note: of all pressurized jets, I am currently unaware of any aircraft beating that DC-9 for cycles before retirement. For hours, the 747 rules with KLM and LH competing on who can get the closest to the limit of validity (certified aircraft life, that can be extended. e.g., the A320 was 48,000 flight cycles and 60,000 flight hours but was extended to 60,000 flight cycles and 120,000 flight hours with relatively few reinforcements required in older aircraft to enable the life extension. But not all extensions succeed, we had a discussion on why the A320 couldn't make it to 90,000 FC and 180,000 FH: viewtopic.php?t=775787, bad findings were found in the testing, but it seems to have been on cycles, not hours per the nature of the failure).

So it isn't the airframe that is a problem. It is having the trained service network. e.g., RR must have a trained team of engineers to approve MRB repairs on the BR720. Boeing must have a team for the wing, body, tail, fuel system, avionics, cockpit, and landing gear to enable aircraft overhauls. In total, about 15 engineers must be paid to enable heavy maintenance visits and engine overhauls. That doesn't sound like much, but that costs about $9 million usd a year to keep them trained, certified, the paperwork current, those engineers insured (for liability and normal benefits).

So normally, with 300 airframes, the engine vendor, the aircraft vendor and the sub-vendors charge about a $25 million per year fixed fee to support a fleet as they must staff up to support that fleet. If you cut out the vendors and just have RR and Boeing staffed, they would do it for $9*1.2 or $11 million per year (there must be a profit or why in the world would they take the liability). But that is green time overhauls with expensive rebuilds...

Now Boeing paid vendors a steep fee when they cancelled the 717 to keep supporting the fleet as long as 100 B717s were in service (by less than annual part rebuilds, when 25 parts were on hand, a 4 to 6 month clock was started until the parts had to be rebuilt). Sorry, no link, I just work with those vendors and when they received the payment they were very happy. Now they hate having accepted the payment as the vendors lost money on it. Sorry, just grousing from vendors, no link.

So $25 million in support spread among 140+ 717s wasn't bad, that was $178,000 usd per aircraft or so a year to have the entire vendor chain on speed dial with pre-paid hours of engineering support (so no fear to call on minor issues). Hawaiian and Cobham cannot afford to pay my estimated $25 million.

Note, that isn't for parts. That is just for 'dial a friend' support for the degreed engineers at RR/Boeing and the vendors. Needed support to keep a fleet going with high dispatch reliability. That is for Boeing and RR to go through the data to make sure latent problems are diagnosed before there is a problem. It really helps. It is also for RR and Boeing to do audits to ensure your parts really have green time (verification parts aren't run past allowed use).

Delta has the staff to do away with vendor support economically. Does HA an Cobham? I've seen Delta do it on the DC-9, MD-80 so I have no worries on the B717. They know what to do to pass all the FAA audits. HA and Cobham could, but the fines start at about $5 million.

I know an overly long answer. But the need for parts in a batch of 25 and the need to pay trained degreed engineers to solve problems is why the industry is going to economics of scale. I've seen the vendors. For the BR720, they will have one degreed engineer support the Pearl, BR710, BR720, BR725 *and* the SAFRAN parts. So if two planes have a crisis, there is one person with a sorta knowledgeable backup for vacations. For the CFM56, even small vendors have three degreed engineers working full time and another three part time working the issues so "dial a friend" help is instant and very well trained. (Again, the CFM56 is half the engine industry, so it is the extreme other end of the spectrum in support).

When AA retired the MD-80, vendors stopped supporting the JT8D as they no longer could justify to pay to keep a degreed engineer certified to take on the liability of supporting the engine. (At the vendors I knew, that engineer was retrained to become Txwb support). Due to the Pearl/BR710/BR720/BR725 I don't see that issue, but there will be something on the airframe I am not personally interested in where the vendors stop supporting overhauls. If it isn't an approved standard repair, pay Boeing a minimum fee of $80k to discuss in the future... On the other hand, being the DC-9-30NG, there are a lot of standard repairs in the manuals...

There is nothing magical about supporting aircraft, it is just estimating how many different people you have to pay to support to keep up the knowledge base to support the type. Once you lay them off (which is a certainty in this economy), they become a very high cost 'consultant' while they are still current and then they are a retired bitter engineer who wonders why their career skill set isn't valued anymore (seen it, I won't become that).

Hawaiian and Cobham, in my opinion, have no choice to go down to minimum support (current standard repairs only) and paying that 2.5X to 2.8X for spares as well as stockpiling spares in the next order for parts which will be the last standard price order. I hope they have the cash for those parts... I would bet Delta already placed their order, just like they did for the MD-80s. Its that time of year in the industry...

Lightsaber
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Gulfstream500
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:42 am

I see a few possible scenarios that could play out with the 717 fleet:

1. The 717 is first retired by Delta. Hawaiian takes in some of the DL 717s to replace higher-cycle 717s, and the prices of the 717s become extremely cheap for the age of the fleet - a few of the remaining aircraft get bought/leased by current DC-9 cargo operators, or a new ULCC looking for some cheap aircraft.
2. Hawaiian finds a cheap replacement for their 717s, so they replace them earlier than DL. The 717, in this case, would have a slow retirement with DL, who would control the majority of the remaining fleet.
3. The entire 717 fleet gets retired, all at once (by DL and HA). The value of the fleet drops very quickly, and DC-9 cargo operators (or a new ULCC) pick up some of the remaining fleet.
So... when will the Northwest DC-9s be retired?
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:09 am

Gulfstream500 wrote:
I see a few possible scenarios that could play out with the 717 fleet:

1. The 717 is first retired by Delta. Hawaiian takes in some of the DL 717s to replace higher-cycle 717s, and the prices of the 717s become extremely cheap for the age of the fleet - a few of the remaining aircraft get bought/leased by current DC-9 cargo operators, or a new ULCC looking for some cheap aircraft.
2. Hawaiian finds a cheap replacement for their 717s, so they replace them earlier than DL. The 717, in this case, would have a slow retirement with DL, who would control the majority of the remaining fleet.
3. The entire 717 fleet gets retired, all at once (by DL and HA). The value of the fleet drops very quickly, and DC-9 cargo operators (or a new ULCC) pick up some of the remaining fleet.

I just went through the HA 717 Fleet
N489HA and N490HA had the fewest cycles, 40,782 and 41,919 respectively. Those two HA bought literally 5th hand, so they had some years sitting on the ground.

N477HA had the most cycles, the only one over 70k, at 70,665 flight cycles (see above link to FAA and airfleets to find registrations).
So if HA wanted to keep flying they could, looking at DL's 717s, I in a sampling, I didn't find any with over 40,000 cycles (e.g, 949AT at 38,032, but I didn't look at every one, there are too many) and some with lowish cycles (N977AT with only 32,750 cycles).

But how will HA pay for support? I'm not worried about the cost to acquire the aircraft, that is cheap. The issue is the B717 has been supported its prior life by the MD-80 and by the AirTran then Delta support of the fleet. That is going away.

Lightsaber
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dstblj52
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:29 am

lightsaber wrote:
Gulfstream500 wrote:
I see a few possible scenarios that could play out with the 717 fleet:

1. The 717 is first retired by Delta. Hawaiian takes in some of the DL 717s to replace higher-cycle 717s, and the prices of the 717s become extremely cheap for the age of the fleet - a few of the remaining aircraft get bought/leased by current DC-9 cargo operators, or a new ULCC looking for some cheap aircraft.
2. Hawaiian finds a cheap replacement for their 717s, so they replace them earlier than DL. The 717, in this case, would have a slow retirement with DL, who would control the majority of the remaining fleet.
3. The entire 717 fleet gets retired, all at once (by DL and HA). The value of the fleet drops very quickly, and DC-9 cargo operators (or a new ULCC) pick up some of the remaining fleet.

I just went through the HA 717 Fleet
N489HA and N490HA had the fewest cycles, 40,782 and 41,919 respectively. Those two HA bought literally 5th hand, so they had some years sitting on the ground.

N477HA had the most cycles, the only one over 70k, at 70,665 flight cycles (see above link to FAA and airfleets to find registrations).
So if HA wanted to keep flying they could, looking at DL's 717s, I in a sampling, I didn't find any with over 40,000 cycles (e.g, 949AT at 38,032, but I didn't look at every one, there are too many) and some with lowish cycles (N977AT with only 32,750 cycles).

But how will HA pay for support? I'm not worried about the cost to acquire the aircraft, that is cheap. The issue is the B717 has been supported its prior life by the MD-80 and by the AirTran then Delta support of the fleet. That is going away.

Lightsaber

If hawiaan were to buy all the ones left and just part them out over time how long would that buy them?
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:34 am

Gulfstream500 wrote:
I see a few possible scenarios that could play out with the 717 fleet:

1. The 717 is first retired by Delta. Hawaiian takes in some of the DL 717s to replace higher-cycle 717s, and the prices of the 717s become extremely cheap for the age of the fleet - a few of the remaining aircraft get bought/leased by current DC-9 cargo operators, or a new ULCC looking for some cheap aircraft.
2. Hawaiian finds a cheap replacement for their 717s, so they replace them earlier than DL. The 717, in this case, would have a slow retirement with DL, who would control the majority of the remaining fleet.
3. The entire 717 fleet gets retired, all at once (by DL and HA). The value of the fleet drops very quickly, and DC-9 cargo operators (or a new ULCC) pick up some of the remaining fleet.


Nobody is going to convert them to cargo. The biggest US operator of the DC9 freighter is planning on converting to MD88's, from Delta. The cost of developing an STC for such a small fleet, is would be nuts, unless you think there's a market for 20+ conversions (which I don't think there is).
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:46 am

lightsaber wrote:
If you want to save yourself reading an overly long reply of mine below, the thesis is that HA and Cobham must fork over about $25 million per year to keep the fleet certified (not going to happen).

Anything less, they can do it, but they take on more liability (not a huge amount more) and are limited to standard repairs and whatever parts they buy soon (very soon, bummer it is during a time where cash flow is precious).


So take HA and Cobhan. They could keep operating as long as they go out and buy breaks, seals, valves, and get the rebuilds done in the next batch. Since Delta is retiring the planes in 2025 and they have a good history of predicting green time, Delta will be ordering their last batches of rebuilt parts now (if they didn't last year) to go until 2025. So this is the last economical chance for HA and Cobhan to get parts for the 717. From then on, they will have to incentivise the vendor (usually a minimum batch of 25 at 2.5X to 2.8X the prior cost). For example, certified valves that were rebuilt for $1,500 before will cost about $100,000 usd for a batch of 25. They'll the same almost $100,000 for one. Before, Boeing was paying an annual fee to ensure spare valves were on the shelf for $2,500 each. With this announcement, all new build parts just went up in price 3X (that is just how the industry works), unless someone orders a batch of 25, where they will get 25 new valves for $75,000.

But at this time Hawaiian and Cobham are short on cash. To adequately build up stores is a $25 million usd to $50 million usd expense for a fleet of 20 aircraft and they really should go out and buy an additional 5 spare engines because the turn times on engines is about to become 6 months as soon as Delta stops ordering overhauls (there will be parts that have to be rebuilt that there is just no choice but to wait for those parts).
[snip]

So it isn't the airframe that is a problem. It is having the trained service network. e.g., RR must have a trained team of engineers to approve MRB repairs on the BR720. Boeing must have a team for the wing, body, tail, fuel system, avionics, cockpit, and landing gear to enable aircraft overhauls. In total, about 15 engineers must be paid to enable heavy maintenance visits and engine overhauls. That doesn't sound like much, but that costs about $9 million usd a year to keep them trained, certified, the paperwork current, those engineers insured (for liability and normal benefits).
So normally, with 300 airframes, the engine vendor, the aircraft vendor and the sub-vendors charge about a $25 million per year fixed fee to support a fleet as they must staff up to support that fleet. If you cut out the vendors and just have RR and Boeing staffed, they would do it for $9*1.2 or $11 million per year (there must be a profit or why in the world would they take the liability). But that is green time overhauls with expensive rebuilds...
Now Boeing paid vendors a steep fee when they cancelled the 717 to keep supporting the fleet as long as 100 B717s were in service (by less than annual part rebuilds, when 25 parts were on hand, a 4 to 6 month clock was started until the parts had to be rebuilt). Sorry, no link, I just work with those vendors and when they received the payment they were very happy. Now they hate having accepted the payment as the vendors lost money on it. Sorry, just grousing from vendors, no link.
So $25 million in support spread among 140+ 717s wasn't bad, that was $178,000 usd per aircraft or so a year to have the entire vendor chain on speed dial with pre-paid hours of engineering support (so no fear to call on minor issues). Hawaiian and Cobham cannot afford to pay my estimated $25 million.
Note, that isn't for parts. That is just for 'dial a friend' support for the degreed engineers at RR/Boeing and the vendors. Needed support to keep a fleet going with high dispatch reliability. That is for Boeing and RR to go through the data to make sure latent problems are diagnosed before there is a problem. It really helps. It is also for RR and Boeing to do audits to ensure your parts really have green time (verification parts aren't run past allowed use).

[snip]
Delta has the staff to do away with vendor support economically. Does HA an Cobham? I've seen Delta do it on the DC-9, MD-80 so I have no worries on the B717. They know what to do to pass all the FAA audits. HA and Cobham could, but the fines start at about $5 million.
[snip]

Lightsaber


While I have NO disagreement with any of the above, there is one point I think you missed. While the B717 are registered to Cobham as "operator" ownership is a mixed bag but ultimately it is the Qantas Group who pull the strings. This could change the responses you assume above.

While QF is bleeding cash, perhaps even more so than the DS3 due to the illegal state boarder closures restricting interstate travel even more than you would think, it is hard to tell which way they would jump in this situation. In normal times they would have the money/man power to do any of your suggestions, during COVID they don't, post COVID who knows?
I think it reasonable to assume that they would do the least cost thing, whatever that is. There is also the possibility of government money to support QantasLink services, if it becomes necessary.
A QF/Hawaiian deal, maybe. Would be interesting!

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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:56 am

Gemuser wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
If you want to save yourself reading an overly long reply of mine below, the thesis is that HA and Cobham must fork over about $25 million per year to keep the fleet certified (not going to happen).

Anything less, they can do it, but they take on more liability (not a huge amount more) and are limited to standard repairs and whatever parts they buy soon (very soon, bummer it is during a time where cash flow is precious).


So take HA and Cobhan. They could keep operating as long as they go out and buy breaks, seals, valves, and get the rebuilds done in the next batch. Since Delta is retiring the planes in 2025 and they have a good history of predicting green time, Delta will be ordering their last batches of rebuilt parts now (if they didn't last year) to go until 2025. So this is the last economical chance for HA and Cobhan to get parts for the 717. From then on, they will have to incentivise the vendor (usually a minimum batch of 25 at 2.5X to 2.8X the prior cost). For example, certified valves that were rebuilt for $1,500 before will cost about $100,000 usd for a batch of 25. They'll the same almost $100,000 for one. Before, Boeing was paying an annual fee to ensure spare valves were on the shelf for $2,500 each. With this announcement, all new build parts just went up in price 3X (that is just how the industry works), unless someone orders a batch of 25, where they will get 25 new valves for $75,000.

But at this time Hawaiian and Cobham are short on cash. To adequately build up stores is a $25 million usd to $50 million usd expense for a fleet of 20 aircraft and they really should go out and buy an additional 5 spare engines because the turn times on engines is about to become 6 months as soon as Delta stops ordering overhauls (there will be parts that have to be rebuilt that there is just no choice but to wait for those parts).
[snip]

So it isn't the airframe that is a problem. It is having the trained service network. e.g., RR must have a trained team of engineers to approve MRB repairs on the BR720. Boeing must have a team for the wing, body, tail, fuel system, avionics, cockpit, and landing gear to enable aircraft overhauls. In total, about 15 engineers must be paid to enable heavy maintenance visits and engine overhauls. That doesn't sound like much, but that costs about $9 million usd a year to keep them trained, certified, the paperwork current, those engineers insured (for liability and normal benefits).
So normally, with 300 airframes, the engine vendor, the aircraft vendor and the sub-vendors charge about a $25 million per year fixed fee to support a fleet as they must staff up to support that fleet. If you cut out the vendors and just have RR and Boeing staffed, they would do it for $9*1.2 or $11 million per year (there must be a profit or why in the world would they take the liability). But that is green time overhauls with expensive rebuilds...
Now Boeing paid vendors a steep fee when they cancelled the 717 to keep supporting the fleet as long as 100 B717s were in service (by less than annual part rebuilds, when 25 parts were on hand, a 4 to 6 month clock was started until the parts had to be rebuilt). Sorry, no link, I just work with those vendors and when they received the payment they were very happy. Now they hate having accepted the payment as the vendors lost money on it. Sorry, just grousing from vendors, no link.
So $25 million in support spread among 140+ 717s wasn't bad, that was $178,000 usd per aircraft or so a year to have the entire vendor chain on speed dial with pre-paid hours of engineering support (so no fear to call on minor issues). Hawaiian and Cobham cannot afford to pay my estimated $25 million.
Note, that isn't for parts. That is just for 'dial a friend' support for the degreed engineers at RR/Boeing and the vendors. Needed support to keep a fleet going with high dispatch reliability. That is for Boeing and RR to go through the data to make sure latent problems are diagnosed before there is a problem. It really helps. It is also for RR and Boeing to do audits to ensure your parts really have green time (verification parts aren't run past allowed use).

[snip]
Delta has the staff to do away with vendor support economically. Does HA an Cobham? I've seen Delta do it on the DC-9, MD-80 so I have no worries on the B717. They know what to do to pass all the FAA audits. HA and Cobham could, but the fines start at about $5 million.
[snip]

Lightsaber


While I have NO disagreement with any of the above, there is one point I think you missed. While the B717 are registered to Cobham as "operator" ownership is a mixed bag but ultimately it is the Qantas Group who pull the strings. This could change the responses you assume above.

While QF is bleeding cash, perhaps even more so than the DS3 due to the illegal state boarder closures restricting interstate travel even more than you would think, it is hard to tell which way they would jump in this situation. In normal times they would have the money/man power to do any of your suggestions, during COVID they don't, post COVID who knows?
I think it reasonable to assume that they would do the least cost thing, whatever that is. There is also the possibility of government money to support QantasLink services, if it becomes necessary.
A QF/Hawaiian deal, maybe. Would be interesting!

Gemuser


Exactly. Qantas is the owner/lease holder of all of the 717s. They sub-lease them to Cobham to operate them as Qantas Link.

While Cobham have been adding E190s to replace their BAe-146s in passenger service, that is an entirely separate business unit to "National Jet" which is the Qantas Link partner.

It is entirely up to Qantas, not Cobham, when the 717s go and what replaces them.

Pre-Covid they would have stuck around for a long time. The current agreement runs until 2028 and I honestly thought Qantas would add more ex-Volotea frames. Now that maintenance support will start drying up we will have to wait and see what happens.
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N649DL
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:02 am

Honestly, I won't miss the Delta 717s all that much. They always felt slippery in turbulence to me and were cramped. Nice for DL for a little while (since they got such a good deal from WN), but the A220 is superior in all respects.

They also got around the network a lot. Everything from SLC-DEN, LAX-SFO, EWR-ATL etc. I could see with them floating around the network so much between hubs that it could be hard to keep up with maintenance best practices as a fleet and whatnot.

The bigger story is how will DL manage the gap by retiring all 763ER by 2025? I guess it's 5 years out so that's a ways off anyway.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:59 am

N649DL wrote:
Honestly, I won't miss the Delta 717s all that much. They always felt slippery in turbulence to me and were cramped. Nice for DL for a little while (since they got such a good deal from WN), but the A220 is superior in all respects.

They also got around the network a lot. Everything from SLC-DEN, LAX-SFO, EWR-ATL etc. I could see with them floating around the network so much between hubs that it could be hard to keep up with maintenance best practices as a fleet and whatnot.

The bigger story is how will DL manage the gap by retiring all 763ER by 2025? I guess it's 5 years out so that's a ways off anyway.


What does 'slippery in turbulence' mean? Thank you!
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:18 am

seat1a wrote:
N649DL wrote:
Honestly, I won't miss the Delta 717s all that much. They always felt slippery in turbulence to me and were cramped. Nice for DL for a little while (since they got such a good deal from WN), but the A220 is superior in all respects.

They also got around the network a lot. Everything from SLC-DEN, LAX-SFO, EWR-ATL etc. I could see with them floating around the network so much between hubs that it could be hard to keep up with maintenance best practices as a fleet and whatnot.

The bigger story is how will DL manage the gap by retiring all 763ER by 2025? I guess it's 5 years out so that's a ways off anyway.


What does 'slippery in turbulence' mean? Thank you!


For one, an aborted landing into EWR on the go around felt like we almost corkscrewed, but otherwise every bit of a bump just made me nervous as it would shake the entire plane. The E-175s were even better with it, IMHO.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:51 am

This is more being a pedant than anything else, but as of July it is technically correct to refer to National Jet Systems as the operator of QF's 717s rather than Cobham. Qantas purchased the entirety of NJS from Cobham, contrary to what some people believe, the other divisions of Cobham remain completely independent to QF.
B737/738/739/744ER/752/753/763/77L/77W/788/789
A223/320/321/332/333/346/359/388
MD82/MD88/717/F100/RJ85/RJ100/146-100/200/300
E175/190/CRJ700/900
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:46 am

BAeRJ100 wrote:
This is more being a pedant than anything else, but as of July it is technically correct to refer to National Jet Systems as the operator of QF's 717s rather than Cobham. Qantas purchased the entirety of NJS from Cobham, contrary to what some people believe, the other divisions of Cobham remain completely independent to QF.


I had no idea about that, completely passed me by! I knew that National Jet, even when owned by Cobham, was effectively an entirely different business to their other aviation businesses.
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:20 am

The future of the 717:

Image

The type is 22 years old. The technology has been superseded several times over. The wing and fuselage design is 55 years old. It is impressive enough that this tiny fleet of orphans survived in service for 20 years. If it hadn't been for Delta taking in those 90 planes in 2013, it would probably be gone from service already.

Hawaiian will try to keep them flying, but will eventually adapt and either abuse other types for island hopping and/or adopt smaller turboprops.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:53 pm

I can see HA possibly buying up some of the DL 717s. They are going to be a MUCH LOWER cycle and time airframe than what HA currently has. Heck, HA could buy some and and turn their own 717s into scrap and parts and just replace it with the DL 717. That could possibly justify a purchase of a few frames. One never knows..... but eventually I see HA with the A221 and possibly A223.
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MIflyer12
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:18 pm

lightsaber wrote:
There is nothing magical about supporting aircraft, it is just estimating how many different people you have to pay to support to keep up the knowledge base to support the type. Once you lay them off (which is a certainty in this economy), they become a very high cost 'consultant' while they are still current and then they are a retired bitter engineer who wonders why their career skill set isn't valued anymore (seen it, I won't become that).


That's the thing: It's just money!

If you've got the budget of the U.S. Air Force (about $150 Billion a year, or roughly the combined 2019 revenues of AA+DL+UA+WN), you can keep very old aircraft made in small numbers flying: see B-52, produced 1952-1962.

At some point it's going to be cheaper for HA and QF (or whoever is paying the bills in Australia) to buy and operate something else, even if that something else may not be optimized for the short flight profiles of HA. Lightsaber has outlined in some detail his reasoning why he believes parts prices will jump sharply. There's also the matter of parts availability: do they lose weeks of flight time waiting for parts, or do they have the carrying cost of keeping an inventory of absolutely everything they could conceivably need? (Entirely rhetorically: Which carrier has excess cash these days to tie up in a bunch of parts?)

Even by just announcing end of service (let alone parking the last plane), DL has lit the fuse on the 717 program destruct device. Contrast that with, for example, 757s, where FedEx and UPS have big fleets that may be flying for another two decades. They create parts demand to make a market on parts such that passenger carriers can fly them for as long as any major carrier would want to fly 757s.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:49 pm

How long could the planes that are retiring be cannibalized for parts to keep the still-flying jets operational?
 
reltney
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:00 pm

The 717 is leaving Delta for one basic metric....engine cost. The overhaul of that engine is expensive! Being a unique engine, the cost and people to maintain it are scarce. The plane is good and the pilots like it but management says it getting too expensive to operate.

FYI, I watched the last Delta MD-90 leave QRO for Victorville 24 sept. Sad ending..
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:47 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
Even by just announcing end of service (let alone parking the last plane), DL has lit the fuse on the 717 program destruct device. Contrast that with, for example, 757s, where FedEx and UPS have big fleets that may be flying for another two decades. They create parts demand to make a market on parts such that passenger carriers can fly them for as long as any major carrier would want to fly 757s.


I agree, to expand, the freight operations spread the costs over a greater number of opperators and airframes, giving the 757 a much better economy of scale.

https://www.airfleets.net/exploit/production-b757.htm

FedEx with 107
UPS with 75
DHL with 32

Already more aircraft than the entire B717 fleet.
With Volotea already slowly retiring the type, Delta's announcement is program ending.

But again, there is a timeframe. Others have the 2027-2030 window to economically fly the type on scavanged parts, then the consumables get really pricey.


reltney wrote:
The 717 is leaving Delta for one basic metric....engine cost. The overhaul of that engine is expensive! Being a unique engine, the cost and people to maintain it are scarce. The plane is good and the pilots like it but management says it getting too expensive to operate.

FYI, I watched the last Delta MD-90 leave QRO for Victorville 24 sept. Sad ending..

My opinion is the engine costs were a problem due to the short overhaul interval. I've heard 8,500 cycles vs. 20,000 for the CFM-56 & V2500. (yes, most overhauled earlier, but the same ratio of intervals). Only the JT8D is as poor in overhaul intervals. The BR720 was supposed to get a PiP to extend service intervals, but RR never delivered.

The BR710 and BR725 are common enough. The shop in Germany has the expertise, it is the frequency to ship the engines there and lack of competing shops. Delta has the rights to set up a shop, it isn't worth it now.

The engine is also a bit thirsty vs. the V2500 and is so old, comparing it to a GTF is no contest. Then again the last MD-95 was produced in May 2006.

It is too expensive to opperate for several reasons, the engine costs just have no management solution.

Lightsaber
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:01 pm

I can see HA possibly buying up some of the DL 717s. They are going to be a MUCH LOWER cycle and time airframe than what HA currently has. Heck, HA could buy some and and turn their own 717s into scrap and parts and just replace it with the DL 717. That could possibly justify a purchase of a few frames. One never knows..... but eventually I see HA with the A221 and possibly A223.


Concur. Hawaiian has already initiated long term studies on a 717 replacement. There was a thread on it a few months back. However, with the pandemic it may be more cost effective to fly old iron for a few more years until travel and profits perk back up again. One could see those Delta birds as convenient short to medium term replacements, supplements, or parts donors for an airline with a smallish orphan fleet. Not having to take on the cost of adopting a new type would also likely be very attractive looking to Hawaiian.

Regardless, it will be a shame to see these 717s go. Despite McDonnell-Douglas never quite making the plane into something more, its proven to be a reliable workhorse, and the last of the Mad Dogs. I only wish Boeing had invested some cash into upgrading and updating the design instead of telling everyone the baby 737s were the best option on the market. There might not have been a need for the abortive Embraer venture had they realized what they had in the 717 back in the day.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:10 pm

lightsaber wrote:
If you want to save yourself reading an overly long reply of mine below, the thesis is that HA and Cobham must fork over about $25 million per year to keep the fleet certified (not going to happen).

Anything less, they can do it, but they take on more liability (not a huge amount more) and are limited to standard repairs and whatever parts they buy soon (very soon, bummer it is during a time where cash flow is precious).

Phosphorus wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
Boeing owns Volotea's frames.

You have good logic, but with Delta and Volotea retiring 102 frames between them, the cost of spares becomes excessive. It isn't economical to support a tiny fleet, not when the DC-9 and MD-80 were funding production of so many spares (e.g., door and window seals).

Cobham was looking at the A220 pre-Covid19. Knowing that maintenance costs will climb 25% to 30% due to declining economics of scale puts a damper on the prospects in Australia.

For HA, they will fly for longer, but cannot support the fleet. Rare birds are costly. e.g., FedEx had to pay the costs to keep the 727 flying, but they were helped by JT8D economics if scale until AA announced the MD-80 retirement.

I love the 717, my favorite Douglas T-tail. The last one was delivered in 2006, so for tax purposes, it should be fully depreciated in 2025.


Lightsaber

All true.
To be more effective at this, I (not only I, obviously) would need some numbers.
What does your experience and knowledge tell you? What is the number of 717s that need to remain in operation, for the ecosystem to remain viable?
(I know it's not a simple question; there are variables -- how much mutual support can be expected from surviving MD-8X fleets; how "dead" will be the prospects of the Delta fleet at retirement -- having used up all consumables and spares and green time, and burned off all supplier base -- or slightly less disastrous. Etc, etc)

My experience tells me:
1. Over 300 of a type (with one type of engine) in service, don't worry about it, there is so much profit to be made supporting the plane, it just happens.
2. It costs the same to make 1 of a part as 25, so vendors will only do batches of 25. They need to do a batch every 15 months or too much 'tribal knowledge' is lost. Yes, processes are supposed to be clear enough, but there is always something that must be remembered. So 25 aircraft * 12months/year / 15 month interval * (8 to 12 years between overhauls for low utilization aircraft) means we need 160 to 240 aircraft in service to ensure timely spares.
i. spares a lot are used of, such as window seals, must be made in larger batches. So having DL buy them for dozens of MD-80s and MD-90s kept up the economics of the B717 fleet.
ii. Related aircraft count by the shared cost. For example, the BR700 has over 3,600 in service, plus some related parts in the pearl. Because 70% to 80% of the B717 engine is the same as those business jet engines, I don't worry about the engines. https://www.rolls-royce.com/products-an ... br710.aspx (Note, prior I quoted BR700s delivered, in service is the metric that matters.)

When AA cancelled their support contract on the MD-80, Delta had already signed up for another year of support. Since everyone expected AA to sign up for another year, Delta received a year of discounted support. During that year, they estimated the MD-80 time left in the fleet and Delta wisely refurbished parts to maintain the fleet (at that point, there were so many MD-80 parts on the secondary market, buying new was a waste of money). For many MD-80 parts, that was the last refurbishment. The engines stopped later (due to stricter safety guidelines), but many engine parts were going off scavenged green time parts.

So take HA and Cobhan. They could keep operating as long as they go out and buy breaks, seals, valves, and get the rebuilds done in the next batch. Since Delta is retiring the planes in 2025 and they have a good history of predicting green time, Delta will be ordering their last batches of rebuilt parts now (if they didn't last year) to go until 2025. So this is the last economical chance for HA and Cobhan to get parts for the 717. From then on, they will have to incentivise the vendor (usually a minimum batch of 25 at 2.5X to 2.8X the prior cost). For example, certified valves that were rebuilt for $1,500 before will cost about $100,000 usd for a batch of 25. They'll the same almost $100,000 for one. Before, Boeing was paying an annual fee to ensure spare valves were on the shelf for $2,500 each. With this announcement, all new build parts just went up in price 3X (that is just how the industry works), unless someone orders a batch of 25, where they will get 25 new valves for $75,000.

But at this time Hawaiian and Cobham are short on cash. To adequately build up stores is a $25 million usd to $50 million usd expense for a fleet of 20 aircraft and they really should go out and buy an additional 5 spare engines because the turn times on engines is about to become 6 months as soon as Delta stops ordering overhauls (there will be parts that have to be rebuilt that there is just no choice but to wait for those parts).

This is what I mean by a 30% increase in maintenance costs. It includes paying a small team to constantly be hunting for parts in short supply. Stockpiling batches of parts is pricey too. Bummer that cost must be heavily paid in advance.

There are many good articles on the conundrum Hawaiian is in for replacing the 717 (hint, the Simpleflying one makes some really bad assumptions, so if you use that as a reference, I will have to point out the faults, e.g., they assume fuel burn that... is just an opposite assumption):
https://www.jeffsetter.com/the-hawaiian ... conundrum/

Note, the above article notes peak season 717 utilization, it averages about 14 cycles per day.


Take N488HA, LN55001, Hawaiians oldest 717.
https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Haw ... e-b717.htm

Put 488HA (no leading "N") into the FAA database:
https://av-info.faa.gov/sdrx/Query.aspx

The latest maintenance incident was on 4/18/2020 (probably a parked aircraft) with 52,344 cycles and a mere 34,799 flight hours. (Note, the incident was a battery and charger replaced for some emergency exit lights, whoop de doo... Normal line maintenance stuff).

So I find it hilarious people are talking about these aircraft, with a limit of validity of 110,000 cycles and 150,000 hours is somehow approaching work out when Hawaiian ran a DC-9 to 95,132 flight cycles: viewtopic.php?t=748823

Note: of all pressurized jets, I am currently unaware of any aircraft beating that DC-9 for cycles before retirement. For hours, the 747 rules with KLM and LH competing on who can get the closest to the limit of validity (certified aircraft life, that can be extended. e.g., the A320 was 48,000 flight cycles and 60,000 flight hours but was extended to 60,000 flight cycles and 120,000 flight hours with relatively few reinforcements required in older aircraft to enable the life extension. But not all extensions succeed, we had a discussion on why the A320 couldn't make it to 90,000 FC and 180,000 FH: viewtopic.php?t=775787, bad findings were found in the testing, but it seems to have been on cycles, not hours per the nature of the failure).

So it isn't the airframe that is a problem. It is having the trained service network. e.g., RR must have a trained team of engineers to approve MRB repairs on the BR720. Boeing must have a team for the wing, body, tail, fuel system, avionics, cockpit, and landing gear to enable aircraft overhauls. In total, about 15 engineers must be paid to enable heavy maintenance visits and engine overhauls. That doesn't sound like much, but that costs about $9 million usd a year to keep them trained, certified, the paperwork current, those engineers insured (for liability and normal benefits).

So normally, with 300 airframes, the engine vendor, the aircraft vendor and the sub-vendors charge about a $25 million per year fixed fee to support a fleet as they must staff up to support that fleet. If you cut out the vendors and just have RR and Boeing staffed, they would do it for $9*1.2 or $11 million per year (there must be a profit or why in the world would they take the liability). But that is green time overhauls with expensive rebuilds...

Now Boeing paid vendors a steep fee when they cancelled the 717 to keep supporting the fleet as long as 100 B717s were in service (by less than annual part rebuilds, when 25 parts were on hand, a 4 to 6 month clock was started until the parts had to be rebuilt). Sorry, no link, I just work with those vendors and when they received the payment they were very happy. Now they hate having accepted the payment as the vendors lost money on it. Sorry, just grousing from vendors, no link.

So $25 million in support spread among 140+ 717s wasn't bad, that was $178,000 usd per aircraft or so a year to have the entire vendor chain on speed dial with pre-paid hours of engineering support (so no fear to call on minor issues). Hawaiian and Cobham cannot afford to pay my estimated $25 million.

Note, that isn't for parts. That is just for 'dial a friend' support for the degreed engineers at RR/Boeing and the vendors. Needed support to keep a fleet going with high dispatch reliability. That is for Boeing and RR to go through the data to make sure latent problems are diagnosed before there is a problem. It really helps. It is also for RR and Boeing to do audits to ensure your parts really have green time (verification parts aren't run past allowed use).

Delta has the staff to do away with vendor support economically. Does HA an Cobham? I've seen Delta do it on the DC-9, MD-80 so I have no worries on the B717. They know what to do to pass all the FAA audits. HA and Cobham could, but the fines start at about $5 million.

I know an overly long answer. But the need for parts in a batch of 25 and the need to pay trained degreed engineers to solve problems is why the industry is going to economics of scale. I've seen the vendors. For the BR720, they will have one degreed engineer support the Pearl, BR710, BR720, BR725 *and* the SAFRAN parts. So if two planes have a crisis, there is one person with a sorta knowledgeable backup for vacations. For the CFM56, even small vendors have three degreed engineers working full time and another three part time working the issues so "dial a friend" help is instant and very well trained. (Again, the CFM56 is half the engine industry, so it is the extreme other end of the spectrum in support).

When AA retired the MD-80, vendors stopped supporting the JT8D as they no longer could justify to pay to keep a degreed engineer certified to take on the liability of supporting the engine. (At the vendors I knew, that engineer was retrained to become Txwb support). Due to the Pearl/BR710/BR720/BR725 I don't see that issue, but there will be something on the airframe I am not personally interested in where the vendors stop supporting overhauls. If it isn't an approved standard repair, pay Boeing a minimum fee of $80k to discuss in the future... On the other hand, being the DC-9-30NG, there are a lot of standard repairs in the manuals...

There is nothing magical about supporting aircraft, it is just estimating how many different people you have to pay to support to keep up the knowledge base to support the type. Once you lay them off (which is a certainty in this economy), they become a very high cost 'consultant' while they are still current and then they are a retired bitter engineer who wonders why their career skill set isn't valued anymore (seen it, I won't become that).

Hawaiian and Cobham, in my opinion, have no choice to go down to minimum support (current standard repairs only) and paying that 2.5X to 2.8X for spares as well as stockpiling spares in the next order for parts which will be the last standard price order. I hope they have the cash for those parts... I would bet Delta already placed their order, just like they did for the MD-80s. Its that time of year in the industry...

Lightsaber


Thank you for the long and detailed description. Basically, there is an annual cost of keeping the program alive, regardless -- and that cost will be paid as it currently is -- or the fines for mistakes, and escalation of all associated costs (both direct and overheads, and everything else) -- will reach and/or exceed this level. And as many vendors resent status quo -- apparently, any alternative will be more expensive for operators.
Now, you mention that status quo can be maintained, if 100 remain operational. So either existing operators commit to make it happen (again HA would have to do most of the footwork, apparently), or the program implodes, and surviving frames will exist via scavenging whatever can be scavenged, and overpaying for what cannot be scavenged, while management will have to look for options.

I gather, beyond certain date, cannibalizing existing frames is not helpful for items that clock out on calendar, rather than on cycles/flight hours, correct?
AN4 A40 L4T TU3 TU5 IL6 ILW I93 F50 F70 100 146 ARJ AT7 DH4 L10 CRJ ERJ E90 E95 DC-9 MD-8X YK4 YK2 SF3 S20 319 320 321 332 333 343 346 722 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 74M 757 767 777
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:32 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
If you want to save yourself reading an overly long reply of mine below, the thesis is that HA and Cobham must fork over about $25 million per year to keep the fleet certified (not going to happen).

Anything less, they can do it, but they take on more liability (not a huge amount more) and are limited to standard repairs and whatever parts they buy soon (very soon, bummer it is during a time where cash flow is precious).

Phosphorus wrote:
All true.
To be more effective at this, I (not only I, obviously) would need some numbers.
What does your experience and knowledge tell you? What is the number of 717s that need to remain in operation, for the ecosystem to remain viable?
(I know it's not a simple question; there are variables -- how much mutual support can be expected from surviving MD-8X fleets; how "dead" will be the prospects of the Delta fleet at retirement -- having used up all consumables and spares and green time, and burned off all supplier base -- or slightly less disastrous. Etc, etc)

My experience tells me:
1. Over 300 of a type (with one type of engine) in service, don't worry about it, there is so much profit to be made supporting the plane, it just happens.
2. It costs the same to make 1 of a part as 25, so vendors will only do batches of 25. They need to do a batch every 15 months or too much 'tribal knowledge' is lost. Yes, processes are supposed to be clear enough, but there is always something that must be remembered. So 25 aircraft * 12months/year / 15 month interval * (8 to 12 years between overhauls for low utilization aircraft) means we need 160 to 240 aircraft in service to ensure timely spares.
i. spares a lot are used of, such as window seals, must be made in larger batches. So having DL buy them for dozens of MD-80s and MD-90s kept up the economics of the B717 fleet.
ii. Related aircraft count by the shared cost. For example, the BR700 has over 3,600 in service, plus some related parts in the pearl. Because 70% to 80% of the B717 engine is the same as those business jet engines, I don't worry about the engines. https://www.rolls-royce.com/products-an ... br710.aspx (Note, prior I quoted BR700s delivered, in service is the metric that matters.)

When AA cancelled their support contract on the MD-80, Delta had already signed up for another year of support. Since everyone expected AA to sign up for another year, Delta received a year of discounted support. During that year, they estimated the MD-80 time left in the fleet and Delta wisely refurbished parts to maintain the fleet (at that point, there were so many MD-80 parts on the secondary market, buying new was a waste of money). For many MD-80 parts, that was the last refurbishment. The engines stopped later (due to stricter safety guidelines), but many engine parts were going off scavenged green time parts.

So take HA and Cobhan. They could keep operating as long as they go out and buy breaks, seals, valves, and get the rebuilds done in the next batch. Since Delta is retiring the planes in 2025 and they have a good history of predicting green time, Delta will be ordering their last batches of rebuilt parts now (if they didn't last year) to go until 2025. So this is the last economical chance for HA and Cobhan to get parts for the 717. From then on, they will have to incentivise the vendor (usually a minimum batch of 25 at 2.5X to 2.8X the prior cost). For example, certified valves that were rebuilt for $1,500 before will cost about $100,000 usd for a batch of 25. They'll the same almost $100,000 for one. Before, Boeing was paying an annual fee to ensure spare valves were on the shelf for $2,500 each. With this announcement, all new build parts just went up in price 3X (that is just how the industry works), unless someone orders a batch of 25, where they will get 25 new valves for $75,000.

But at this time Hawaiian and Cobham are short on cash. To adequately build up stores is a $25 million usd to $50 million usd expense for a fleet of 20 aircraft and they really should go out and buy an additional 5 spare engines because the turn times on engines is about to become 6 months as soon as Delta stops ordering overhauls (there will be parts that have to be rebuilt that there is just no choice but to wait for those parts).

This is what I mean by a 30% increase in maintenance costs. It includes paying a small team to constantly be hunting for parts in short supply. Stockpiling batches of parts is pricey too. Bummer that cost must be heavily paid in advance.

There are many good articles on the conundrum Hawaiian is in for replacing the 717 (hint, the Simpleflying one makes some really bad assumptions, so if you use that as a reference, I will have to point out the faults, e.g., they assume fuel burn that... is just an opposite assumption):
https://www.jeffsetter.com/the-hawaiian ... conundrum/

Note, the above article notes peak season 717 utilization, it averages about 14 cycles per day.


Take N488HA, LN55001, Hawaiians oldest 717.
https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Haw ... e-b717.htm

Put 488HA (no leading "N") into the FAA database:
https://av-info.faa.gov/sdrx/Query.aspx

The latest maintenance incident was on 4/18/2020 (probably a parked aircraft) with 52,344 cycles and a mere 34,799 flight hours. (Note, the incident was a battery and charger replaced for some emergency exit lights, whoop de doo... Normal line maintenance stuff).

So I find it hilarious people are talking about these aircraft, with a limit of validity of 110,000 cycles and 150,000 hours is somehow approaching work out when Hawaiian ran a DC-9 to 95,132 flight cycles: viewtopic.php?t=748823

Note: of all pressurized jets, I am currently unaware of any aircraft beating that DC-9 for cycles before retirement. For hours, the 747 rules with KLM and LH competing on who can get the closest to the limit of validity (certified aircraft life, that can be extended. e.g., the A320 was 48,000 flight cycles and 60,000 flight hours but was extended to 60,000 flight cycles and 120,000 flight hours with relatively few reinforcements required in older aircraft to enable the life extension. But not all extensions succeed, we had a discussion on why the A320 couldn't make it to 90,000 FC and 180,000 FH: viewtopic.php?t=775787, bad findings were found in the testing, but it seems to have been on cycles, not hours per the nature of the failure).

So it isn't the airframe that is a problem. It is having the trained service network. e.g., RR must have a trained team of engineers to approve MRB repairs on the BR720. Boeing must have a team for the wing, body, tail, fuel system, avionics, cockpit, and landing gear to enable aircraft overhauls. In total, about 15 engineers must be paid to enable heavy maintenance visits and engine overhauls. That doesn't sound like much, but that costs about $9 million usd a year to keep them trained, certified, the paperwork current, those engineers insured (for liability and normal benefits).

So normally, with 300 airframes, the engine vendor, the aircraft vendor and the sub-vendors charge about a $25 million per year fixed fee to support a fleet as they must staff up to support that fleet. If you cut out the vendors and just have RR and Boeing staffed, they would do it for $9*1.2 or $11 million per year (there must be a profit or why in the world would they take the liability). But that is green time overhauls with expensive rebuilds...

Now Boeing paid vendors a steep fee when they cancelled the 717 to keep supporting the fleet as long as 100 B717s were in service (by less than annual part rebuilds, when 25 parts were on hand, a 4 to 6 month clock was started until the parts had to be rebuilt). Sorry, no link, I just work with those vendors and when they received the payment they were very happy. Now they hate having accepted the payment as the vendors lost money on it. Sorry, just grousing from vendors, no link.

So $25 million in support spread among 140+ 717s wasn't bad, that was $178,000 usd per aircraft or so a year to have the entire vendor chain on speed dial with pre-paid hours of engineering support (so no fear to call on minor issues). Hawaiian and Cobham cannot afford to pay my estimated $25 million.

Note, that isn't for parts. That is just for 'dial a friend' support for the degreed engineers at RR/Boeing and the vendors. Needed support to keep a fleet going with high dispatch reliability. That is for Boeing and RR to go through the data to make sure latent problems are diagnosed before there is a problem. It really helps. It is also for RR and Boeing to do audits to ensure your parts really have green time (verification parts aren't run past allowed use).

Delta has the staff to do away with vendor support economically. Does HA an Cobham? I've seen Delta do it on the DC-9, MD-80 so I have no worries on the B717. They know what to do to pass all the FAA audits. HA and Cobham could, but the fines start at about $5 million.

I know an overly long answer. But the need for parts in a batch of 25 and the need to pay trained degreed engineers to solve problems is why the industry is going to economics of scale. I've seen the vendors. For the BR720, they will have one degreed engineer support the Pearl, BR710, BR720, BR725 *and* the SAFRAN parts. So if two planes have a crisis, there is one person with a sorta knowledgeable backup for vacations. For the CFM56, even small vendors have three degreed engineers working full time and another three part time working the issues so "dial a friend" help is instant and very well trained. (Again, the CFM56 is half the engine industry, so it is the extreme other end of the spectrum in support).

When AA retired the MD-80, vendors stopped supporting the JT8D as they no longer could justify to pay to keep a degreed engineer certified to take on the liability of supporting the engine. (At the vendors I knew, that engineer was retrained to become Txwb support). Due to the Pearl/BR710/BR720/BR725 I don't see that issue, but there will be something on the airframe I am not personally interested in where the vendors stop supporting overhauls. If it isn't an approved standard repair, pay Boeing a minimum fee of $80k to discuss in the future... On the other hand, being the DC-9-30NG, there are a lot of standard repairs in the manuals...

There is nothing magical about supporting aircraft, it is just estimating how many different people you have to pay to support to keep up the knowledge base to support the type. Once you lay them off (which is a certainty in this economy), they become a very high cost 'consultant' while they are still current and then they are a retired bitter engineer who wonders why their career skill set isn't valued anymore (seen it, I won't become that).

Hawaiian and Cobham, in my opinion, have no choice to go down to minimum support (current standard repairs only) and paying that 2.5X to 2.8X for spares as well as stockpiling spares in the next order for parts which will be the last standard price order. I hope they have the cash for those parts... I would bet Delta already placed their order, just like they did for the MD-80s. Its that time of year in the industry...

Lightsaber


Thank you for the long and detailed description. Basically, there is an annual cost of keeping the program alive, regardless -- and that cost will be paid as it currently is -- or the fines for mistakes, and escalation of all associated costs (both direct and overheads, and everything else) -- will reach and/or exceed this level. And as many vendors resent status quo -- apparently, any alternative will be more expensive for operators.
Now, you mention that status quo can be maintained, if 100 remain operational. So either existing operators commit to make it happen (again HA would have to do most of the footwork, apparently), or the program implodes, and surviving frames will exist via scavenging whatever can be scavenged, and overpaying for what cannot be scavenged, while management will have to look for options.

I gather, beyond certain date, cannibalizing existing frames is not helpful for items that clock out on calendar, rather than on cycles/flight hours, correct?

Once installed, seals start aging. So HA and Cobham will have to keep a stockpile. Tires can be stored indoors until too many are worn to limits. But it is more the consumables (breaks & pads, filters, and if there are any custom batteries ir odd items).

One big issue will be engine and airframe overhauls. Now HA does their own airframes, so they can stretch that out. There is a reason HA has a 717 with over 70,000 flight cycles, they fly intensely. Every two years the engines require an overhaul at their insane 14+ average cycles per day. (This speaks well of the 717).

They can keep opperating, but HA must buy at least 5 more spare engines just because aircraft would otherwise be waiting on parts. Not that there will be a shortage, but as Boeing owns so many, they will know there is the value and price accordingly.

In this market, there is no way to find a home for another 60 of the 717s. There will be more A319CEOs sold cheap next year alone. With the return if the MAX, 736NGs will flood the secondary market. I estimate 2,000 surplus (used and scaringly hundreds if new) aircraft will be available in 2021 in the aircraft production chicken thread (link above).

No new airline will take on the type. It is unlikely Cobham could pass up on a great deal either.

The economics of scale will be torched.

Lightsaber
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 4:06 pm

I wonder what Boeings plan will be? If they own most of the airplanes, they might choose to take them back on lease return and directly scrap them, they could even refrain from scavenging parts from them (would that be legal?) to drive the operators (primarily HA and QF) to purchase new airplanes. Boeing might not want 100 lightly used 717's on the market.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 4:24 pm

Aptivaboy wrote:
I can see HA possibly buying up some of the DL 717s. They are going to be a MUCH LOWER cycle and time airframe than what HA currently has. Heck, HA could buy some and and turn their own 717s into scrap and parts and just replace it with the DL 717. That could possibly justify a purchase of a few frames. One never knows..... but eventually I see HA with the A221 and possibly A223.


Concur. Hawaiian has already initiated long term studies on a 717 replacement. There was a thread on it a few months back. However, with the pandemic it may be more cost effective to fly old iron for a few more years until travel and profits perk back up again. One could see those Delta birds as convenient short to medium term replacements, supplements, or parts donors for an airline with a smallish orphan fleet. Not having to take on the cost of adopting a new type would also likely be very attractive looking to Hawaiian.

Regardless, it will be a shame to see these 717s go. Despite McDonnell-Douglas never quite making the plane into something more, its proven to be a reliable workhorse, and the last of the Mad Dogs. I only wish Boeing had invested some cash into upgrading and updating the design instead of telling everyone the baby 737s were the best option on the market. There might not have been a need for the abortive Embraer venture had they realized what they had in the 717 back in the day.


But isn't the 717 heavy compared to more modern planes in it's category? HA is an extreme corner case for the 717 due to their need for such short flights with quick turnarounds. Other airlines didn't find it a compelling platform that they were willing to buy them new. Southwest which inherited a fleet after buying AirTran, found them to not have a low enough trip cost to justify a separate fleet.

The A220 is a much more efficient platform than the 717. About the only thing it has in common with the 717 is a 5 abreast layout in economy. For Boeing to compete against the A220 with a modified 717 fuselage would have required taking out excess weight from the fuselage put in by Douglas engineers and rewinging the 717 with a carbon fiber wing. The tail mounted engines are not optimal given the size and weight of geared turbofan. Moving the engines to the wings would help with center of gravity, but that would require new taller landing gear. With the engines removed from the tail, the empenage needs to be redesigned. With that much redesigned, it makes sense to make it a full fly by wire plane. With all the changes needed to compete against the A220, why not just start with a clean sheet?
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:08 pm

I could see Australian operators taking on more Boeing 717s, especially Cobham. Alliance would have been an option, but they just bought the entire Copa E190 fleet (Copa selling the fleet via a third party broker). Alliance is paying about $7.93M per frame (not sure if Australian or US dollars, as Copa would have been offering its E190 fleet for sale in US dollars).

Now, if Cobham and Hawaiian don't want to pay the extra costs, I see the major option being the A220 (Hawaiian) or used E190s (Cobham). The problem for Hawaiian is if they would need more A220s since the turnaround times would be a bit longer, especially on HNL-OGG, which had been as much as 35 times daily before COVID-19.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:30 pm

My read of the situation is that Qantas is the operator that could swing either way with the 717, the consensus seems to be that HA will operate they type as long as it is economical. Qantas very recently bought National Jet Systems from Cobham, and shortly afterwards shuffled most of the 717s from PER to the eastern states.

I think the the future of the F100 will determine how Qantas moves on with the 717 - the F100s are in a bit of a unique situation in that the vast majority of the remaining frames are operated in Australia (with almost all of the rest in Iran) and most of those are based in one airport (PER) with generally very low utilisation. These will never be replaced by new aircraft such as the A220 as the low utilisation favours aircraft with a low capital cost. Used E-jets could be an option, but I'm sure I remember that Virgin got rid of their E190s as they performed poorly in these missions.

If 717 prices keep falling towards scrap value I could certainly see them replacing the aging F100s, which are in a similarly precarious position regarding the critical mass of active aircraft required to keep maintenance costs reasonable. If QF were to replace their F100s with DL 717s it's very possible that Vara and/or Alliance could follow suit eventually as well. I count 66 F100s that are operated in Australia, is it feasible that a good chunk of these could be replaced with the DL 717s? I can't think of many other aircraft that fit the role quite so well.
 
MO11
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:51 pm

lightsaber wrote:
We have another thread discussing Delta's expanded planned fleet retirements:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1452201


I thought it worthwhile to start a thread on the fate of the Boeing 717.

There are only 141 in active Duty:
https://www.airfleets.net/exploit/production-b717.htm

Delta:88
Cobham (for QANTAS): 20
Hawaiian: 19
Volotea: 14



Hawaiian is scrapping one, so 18.
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:48 pm

MO11 wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
We have another thread discussing Delta's expanded planned fleet retirements:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1452201


I thought it worthwhile to start a thread on the fate of the Boeing 717.

There are only 141 in active Duty:
https://www.airfleets.net/exploit/production-b717.htm

Delta:88
Cobham (for QANTAS): 20
Hawaiian: 19
Volotea: 14



Hawaiian is scrapping one, so 18.

Is it known, which one is being scrapped?
AN4 A40 L4T TU3 TU5 IL6 ILW I93 F50 F70 100 146 ARJ AT7 DH4 L10 CRJ ERJ E90 E95 DC-9 MD-8X YK4 YK2 SF3 S20 319 320 321 332 333 343 346 722 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 74M 757 767 777
Ceterum autem censeo, Moscovia esse delendam
 
MO11
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:35 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
MO11 wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
We have another thread discussing Delta's expanded planned fleet retirements:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1452201


I thought it worthwhile to start a thread on the fate of the Boeing 717.

There are only 141 in active Duty:
https://www.airfleets.net/exploit/production-b717.htm

Delta:88
Cobham (for QANTAS): 20
Hawaiian: 19
Volotea: 14



Hawaiian is scrapping one, so 18.

Is it known, which one is being scrapped?


N481HA, ferried to JRF on August 4.
 
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lightsaber
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:45 pm

[threeid][/threeid]
MO11 wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
MO11 wrote:

Hawaiian is scrapping one, so 18.

Is it known, which one is being scrapped?


N481HA, ferried to JRF on August 4.

66,915 cycles (in September) and a mere 28,568 flight hours.

Anyone know why this one is being scrapped?

Lightsaber
late edit: This is more cycles than an E-jet, A220, or A320 is certified for (limit of Validity).
Winter is coming.
 
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:46 pm

And just think... a few months ago the 717 was supposedly supposed to get seat back entertainment.
 
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Rajahdhani
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:29 pm

lightsaber wrote:
They need to do a batch every 15 months or too much 'tribal knowledge' is lost.


This touches on another cost as well - that of time, and focusing that on the skills that will be lost as that labour pool departs.

It's not unfair to assume that as the economies of scale shrink, and are not able to be supported by the new/proposed customer base - that in short order, those skilled professionals supporting them will either become highly paid to maintain what they can at new employers/contracts, or will necessarily move on to better/other projects/prospects.

Practically, where will HA find new pilots for their 717s, or other essential personnel, to then keep these programs going when they must support them alone? Past Covid, and say no relief for the foreseeable future - this is a minor consideration, I guess. DL pilots certified can move to Hawaii. We're not just discussing an orphan fleet here, but an aircraft type that has died at the end of the legacy, brand, idea, and class. In any step forward past the 717 - the airline faces retraining pilots, and in almost every case - not only choosing a lower costing operating alternative - but also from a much larger pool of pilots certified and waiting to go. In your opinion, past the brilliant discussion of the costs of the Maintenance side of things - what are some of the other cost increases that we might see as well?

I hear your pint well though, and again a major thank you for the analysis - that the economies of scales are evaporating and will continue to do so. What's a bit damning, when expressed - is that a longer wait time to complete an overhaul will have HA sacrifice many more sectors and flights, than a carrier with a lower utilization rate. Based on use alone, these aircraft are racing towards needs and maintenance, in an environment of increased costs.
Last edited by Rajahdhani on Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
 
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Rajahdhani
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:33 pm

Northwest1988 wrote:
And just think... a few months ago the 717 was supposedly supposed to get seat back entertainment.


2020 has been a year, has it not?

May I use this as my quote of the month?

Imagine going back even further, watching those first 717s touch down at ATL. What a history, no? With them gone, so is any reminder of AirTran.
 
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hawaiian717
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:18 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
DL pilots certified can move to Hawaii.


This would happen only if DL pilots are laid off and HA is hiring. Airline pilot pay is very closely tied to seniority, so pilots will stay with the airline and retrain to another type rather than move to another airline and start out at the bottom of the seniority list and pay scale in order to continue flying the same type of aircraft. The general exception is regional airline pilots will typically move up to a larger airline at some point as regional airline pilot pay scales tend to top out fairly low.
 
WayexTDI
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:24 pm

lightsaber wrote:
reltney wrote:
The 717 is leaving Delta for one basic metric....engine cost. The overhaul of that engine is expensive! Being a unique engine, the cost and people to maintain it are scarce. The plane is good and the pilots like it but management says it getting too expensive to operate.

FYI, I watched the last Delta MD-90 leave QRO for Victorville 24 sept. Sad ending..

My opinion is the engine costs were a problem due to the short overhaul interval. I've heard 8,500 cycles vs. 20,000 for the CFM-56 & V2500. (yes, most overhauled earlier, but the same ratio of intervals). Only the JT8D is as poor in overhaul intervals. The BR720 was supposed to get a PiP to extend service intervals, but RR never delivered.

The BR710 and BR725 are common enough. The shop in Germany has the expertise, it is the frequency to ship the engines there and lack of competing shops. Delta has the rights to set up a shop, it isn't worth it now.

The engine is also a bit thirsty vs. the V2500 and is so old, comparing it to a GTF is no contest. Then again the last MD-95 was produced in May 2006.

It is too expensive to opperate for several reasons, the engine costs just have no management solution.

Lightsaber

Hate to contradict you, but DL has had a BR715 shop for several years now; and "overhaul" is listed on the TechOps website (https://www.deltatechops.com/engines/br715/)
 
DiamondFlyer
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:27 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
They need to do a batch every 15 months or too much 'tribal knowledge' is lost.


This touches on another cost as well - that of time, and focusing that on the skills that will be lost as that labour pool departs.

It's not unfair to assume that as the economies of scale shrink, and are not able to be supported by the new/proposed customer base - that in short order, those skilled professionals supporting them will either become highly paid to maintain what they can at new employers/contracts, or will necessarily move on to better/other projects/prospects.

Practically, where will HA find new pilots for their 717s, or other essential personnel, to then keep these programs going when they must support them alone? Past Covid, and say no relief for the foreseeable future - this is a minor consideration, I guess. DL pilots certified can move to Hawaii. We're not just discussing an orphan fleet here, but an aircraft type that has died at the end of the legacy, brand, idea, and class. In any step forward past the 717 - the airline faces retraining pilots, and in almost every case - not only choosing a lower costing operating alternative - but also from a much larger pool of pilots certified and waiting to go. In your opinion, past the brilliant discussion of the costs of the Maintenance side of things - what are some of the other cost increases that we might see as well?

I hear your pint well though, and again a major thank you for the analysis - that the economies of scales are evaporating and will continue to do so. What's a bit damning, when expressed - is that a longer wait time to complete an overhaul will have HA sacrifice many more sectors and flights, than a carrier with a lower utilization rate. Based on use alone, these aircraft are racing towards needs and maintenance, in an environment of increased costs.


Pilots don't get hired to fly a specific airframe. They get hired, and bid to fly whatever they can hold with their seniority.
From my cold, dead hands
 
WayexTDI
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Re: Fate of 717 post Delta

Sun Sep 27, 2020 10:27 pm

lightsaber wrote:
If you want to save yourself reading an overly long reply of mine below, the thesis is that HA and Cobham must fork over about $25 million per year to keep the fleet certified (not going to happen).

Anything less, they can do it, but they take on more liability (not a huge amount more) and are limited to standard repairs and whatever parts they buy soon (very soon, bummer it is during a time where cash flow is precious).

Phosphorus wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
Boeing owns Volotea's frames.

You have good logic, but with Delta and Volotea retiring 102 frames between them, the cost of spares becomes excessive. It isn't economical to support a tiny fleet, not when the DC-9 and MD-80 were funding production of so many spares (e.g., door and window seals).

Cobham was looking at the A220 pre-Covid19. Knowing that maintenance costs will climb 25% to 30% due to declining economics of scale puts a damper on the prospects in Australia.

For HA, they will fly for longer, but cannot support the fleet. Rare birds are costly. e.g., FedEx had to pay the costs to keep the 727 flying, but they were helped by JT8D economics if scale until AA announced the MD-80 retirement.

I love the 717, my favorite Douglas T-tail. The last one was delivered in 2006, so for tax purposes, it should be fully depreciated in 2025.


Lightsaber

All true.
To be more effective at this, I (not only I, obviously) would need some numbers.
What does your experience and knowledge tell you? What is the number of 717s that need to remain in operation, for the ecosystem to remain viable?
(I know it's not a simple question; there are variables -- how much mutual support can be expected from surviving MD-8X fleets; how "dead" will be the prospects of the Delta fleet at retirement -- having used up all consumables and spares and green time, and burned off all supplier base -- or slightly less disastrous. Etc, etc)

My experience tells me:
1. Over 300 of a type (with one type of engine) in service, don't worry about it, there is so much profit to be made supporting the plane, it just happens.
2. It costs the same to make 1 of a part as 25, so vendors will only do batches of 25. They need to do a batch every 15 months or too much 'tribal knowledge' is lost. Yes, processes are supposed to be clear enough, but there is always something that must be remembered. So 25 aircraft * 12months/year / 15 month interval * (8 to 12 years between overhauls for low utilization aircraft) means we need 160 to 240 aircraft in service to ensure timely spares.
i. spares a lot are used of, such as window seals, must be made in larger batches. So having DL buy them for dozens of MD-80s and MD-90s kept up the economics of the B717 fleet.
ii. Related aircraft count by the shared cost. For example, the BR700 has over 3,600 in service, plus some related parts in the pearl. Because 70% to 80% of the B717 engine is the same as those business jet engines, I don't worry about the engines. https://www.rolls-royce.com/products-an ... br710.aspx (Note, prior I quoted BR700s delivered, in service is the metric that matters.)

When AA cancelled their support contract on the MD-80, Delta had already signed up for another year of support. Since everyone expected AA to sign up for another year, Delta received a year of discounted support. During that year, they estimated the MD-80 time left in the fleet and Delta wisely refurbished parts to maintain the fleet (at that point, there were so many MD-80 parts on the secondary market, buying new was a waste of money). For many MD-80 parts, that was the last refurbishment. The engines stopped later (due to stricter safety guidelines), but many engine parts were going off scavenged green time parts.

So take HA and Cobhan. They could keep operating as long as they go out and buy breaks, seals, valves, and get the rebuilds done in the next batch. Since Delta is retiring the planes in 2025 and they have a good history of predicting green time, Delta will be ordering their last batches of rebuilt parts now (if they didn't last year) to go until 2025. So this is the last economical chance for HA and Cobhan to get parts for the 717. From then on, they will have to incentivise the vendor (usually a minimum batch of 25 at 2.5X to 2.8X the prior cost). For example, certified valves that were rebuilt for $1,500 before will cost about $100,000 usd for a batch of 25. They'll the same almost $100,000 for one. Before, Boeing was paying an annual fee to ensure spare valves were on the shelf for $2,500 each. With this announcement, all new build parts just went up in price 3X (that is just how the industry works), unless someone orders a batch of 25, where they will get 25 new valves for $75,000.

But at this time Hawaiian and Cobham are short on cash. To adequately build up stores is a $25 million usd to $50 million usd expense for a fleet of 20 aircraft and they really should go out and buy an additional 5 spare engines because the turn times on engines is about to become 6 months as soon as Delta stops ordering overhauls (there will be parts that have to be rebuilt that there is just no choice but to wait for those parts).

This is what I mean by a 30% increase in maintenance costs. It includes paying a small team to constantly be hunting for parts in short supply. Stockpiling batches of parts is pricey too. Bummer that cost must be heavily paid in advance.

There are many good articles on the conundrum Hawaiian is in for replacing the 717 (hint, the Simpleflying one makes some really bad assumptions, so if you use that as a reference, I will have to point out the faults, e.g., they assume fuel burn that... is just an opposite assumption):
https://www.jeffsetter.com/the-hawaiian ... conundrum/

Note, the above article notes peak season 717 utilization, it averages about 14 cycles per day.


Take N488HA, LN55001, Hawaiians oldest 717.
https://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/Haw ... e-b717.htm

Put 488HA (no leading "N") into the FAA database:
https://av-info.faa.gov/sdrx/Query.aspx

The latest maintenance incident was on 4/18/2020 (probably a parked aircraft) with 52,344 cycles and a mere 34,799 flight hours. (Note, the incident was a battery and charger replaced for some emergency exit lights, whoop de doo... Normal line maintenance stuff).

So I find it hilarious people are talking about these aircraft, with a limit of validity of 110,000 cycles and 150,000 hours is somehow approaching work out when Hawaiian ran a DC-9 to 95,132 flight cycles: viewtopic.php?t=748823

Note: of all pressurized jets, I am currently unaware of any aircraft beating that DC-9 for cycles before retirement. For hours, the 747 rules with KLM and LH competing on who can get the closest to the limit of validity (certified aircraft life, that can be extended. e.g., the A320 was 48,000 flight cycles and 60,000 flight hours but was extended to 60,000 flight cycles and 120,000 flight hours with relatively few reinforcements required in older aircraft to enable the life extension. But not all extensions succeed, we had a discussion on why the A320 couldn't make it to 90,000 FC and 180,000 FH: viewtopic.php?t=775787, bad findings were found in the testing, but it seems to have been on cycles, not hours per the nature of the failure).

So it isn't the airframe that is a problem. It is having the trained service network. e.g., RR must have a trained team of engineers to approve MRB repairs on the BR720. Boeing must have a team for the wing, body, tail, fuel system, avionics, cockpit, and landing gear to enable aircraft overhauls. In total, about 15 engineers must be paid to enable heavy maintenance visits and engine overhauls. That doesn't sound like much, but that costs about $9 million usd a year to keep them trained, certified, the paperwork current, those engineers insured (for liability and normal benefits).

So normally, with 300 airframes, the engine vendor, the aircraft vendor and the sub-vendors charge about a $25 million per year fixed fee to support a fleet as they must staff up to support that fleet. If you cut out the vendors and just have RR and Boeing staffed, they would do it for $9*1.2 or $11 million per year (there must be a profit or why in the world would they take the liability). But that is green time overhauls with expensive rebuilds...

Now Boeing paid vendors a steep fee when they cancelled the 717 to keep supporting the fleet as long as 100 B717s were in service (by less than annual part rebuilds, when 25 parts were on hand, a 4 to 6 month clock was started until the parts had to be rebuilt). Sorry, no link, I just work with those vendors and when they received the payment they were very happy. Now they hate having accepted the payment as the vendors lost money on it. Sorry, just grousing from vendors, no link.

So $25 million in support spread among 140+ 717s wasn't bad, that was $178,000 usd per aircraft or so a year to have the entire vendor chain on speed dial with pre-paid hours of engineering support (so no fear to call on minor issues). Hawaiian and Cobham cannot afford to pay my estimated $25 million.

Note, that isn't for parts. That is just for 'dial a friend' support for the degreed engineers at RR/Boeing and the vendors. Needed support to keep a fleet going with high dispatch reliability. That is for Boeing and RR to go through the data to make sure latent problems are diagnosed before there is a problem. It really helps. It is also for RR and Boeing to do audits to ensure your parts really have green time (verification parts aren't run past allowed use).

Delta has the staff to do away with vendor support economically. Does HA an Cobham? I've seen Delta do it on the DC-9, MD-80 so I have no worries on the B717. They know what to do to pass all the FAA audits. HA and Cobham could, but the fines start at about $5 million.

I know an overly long answer. But the need for parts in a batch of 25 and the need to pay trained degreed engineers to solve problems is why the industry is going to economics of scale. I've seen the vendors. For the BR720, they will have one degreed engineer support the Pearl, BR710, BR720, BR725 *and* the SAFRAN parts. So if two planes have a crisis, there is one person with a sorta knowledgeable backup for vacations. For the CFM56, even small vendors have three degreed engineers working full time and another three part time working the issues so "dial a friend" help is instant and very well trained. (Again, the CFM56 is half the engine industry, so it is the extreme other end of the spectrum in support).

When AA retired the MD-80, vendors stopped supporting the JT8D as they no longer could justify to pay to keep a degreed engineer certified to take on the liability of supporting the engine. (At the vendors I knew, that engineer was retrained to become Txwb support). Due to the Pearl/BR710/BR720/BR725 I don't see that issue, but there will be something on the airframe I am not personally interested in where the vendors stop supporting overhauls. If it isn't an approved standard repair, pay Boeing a minimum fee of $80k to discuss in the future... On the other hand, being the DC-9-30NG, there are a lot of standard repairs in the manuals...

There is nothing magical about supporting aircraft, it is just estimating how many different people you have to pay to support to keep up the knowledge base to support the type. Once you lay them off (which is a certainty in this economy), they become a very high cost 'consultant' while they are still current and then they are a retired bitter engineer who wonders why their career skill set isn't valued anymore (seen it, I won't become that).

Hawaiian and Cobham, in my opinion, have no choice to go down to minimum support (current standard repairs only) and paying that 2.5X to 2.8X for spares as well as stockpiling spares in the next order for parts which will be the last standard price order. I hope they have the cash for those parts... I would bet Delta already placed their order, just like they did for the MD-80s. Its that time of year in the industry...

Lightsaber

I know Airbus has in its Supplier Contracts a clause for vendors to maintain supporting the fleet until there is less than 5 airworthy frames.
Airbus does control the price in the Spares Catalog; so, a sudden hike in price would most likely not happen overnight on an Airbus aircraft.

Doesn't Boeing have something similar?

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