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Last Minute Equipment Changes

Wed Jul 12, 2000 1:11 am

I have been wondering how this works. Last week while at Dulles, I saw a Virgin 747-400, instead of the usual 747-200 and a few years ago, while flying Alitalia from JFK to FCO, our scheduled 767 was replaced by a MD-11. Using the Virgin example, on day one, the 747-200 crew flew into IAD. They would, presumably, be scheduled to fly the flight to London on the next day. But, if a 747-400 comes in that day, then the 747-200 would be unable to take the trip back to London. Even if the substitution is for multiple days, there will be a day when a 747-200 crew is scheduled to fly a 747-400.

I assume that the airline would deadhead a 747-400 crew to fly the aircraft back to London and the 747-200 crew would have to deadhead back to London. Is this right? Also, would the fligth attendants be able to work a flight with a different aircraft type or would a whole cabin crew have to be flwon in for the flight?

I imagine airlines try to avoid these equipment changes because it would seemingly mess up a nice schedule.

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RE: Last Minute Equipment Changes

Wed Jul 12, 2000 1:22 am

Most airlines try to substitute an aircraft with another that has a similar type-rating. That is part of the reason why fleet commonality is so important. Here at Continental they try to replace a 737 with another available 737 model. Deadheading crews comes in to play when a DC10 needs to be substituted for a 777, for example. Its quite a costly endeavor.
Hope that helps a little.
Samurai 777
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RE: Last Minute Equipment Changes

Wed Jul 12, 2000 1:39 am

While many airlines do try to replace their usual a/c with a similar type if something goes wrong with using the a/c they normally use, they don't always replace with similar types! Last year, on an Air Canada connecting flight from YYZ to YUL, I was scheduled to go on a 767, but the 767 had mechanical problems, so they used a CRJ instead! Talk about substituting a 50-seater for a 175-seater! I imagine a lot of passengers got bumped off involuntarily. I wasn't one of those, fortunately. While it seems really inconvenient, I guess AC couldn't even get any A320 or A319 to do the job and so the CRJ was the only a/c available on hand at that time.

For those bumped off, they probably still were able to get them on other AC flights to YUL on that same day fairly easily, as the YYZ-YUL route is Canada's busiest air route, and AC uses 767s and even A330/340s on that route. That's probably another reason they didn't see any problem putting a CRJ on that route, when probably no other a/c was available.
CX Flyboy
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RE: Last Minute Equipment Changes

Wed Jul 12, 2000 3:13 am

When you see an aircraft that does not normally visit, it may not have been a last minute change. It could have been seen far in advance, that perhaps due to planned maintenance, it is impossible to put a certain aircraft type on it's usual route. If this is the case, the airline will probably substitute rather than cancel the flight. Crews will have been positioned in advance to fly the aircraft back. I doubt the Virgin cockpit crew that fly the 747-200 can also fly the -400, although it is highly likely that the cabin crew would be cross qualified.

Here at Cathay, most of the cabin crew fly all of our aircraft types: 777-200/300, 747-400, A330/A340.

RE: Last Minute Equipment Changes

Wed Jul 12, 2000 9:28 am

DL last second equipment changes are fairly common here at JAX. Most of our flights to ATL are scheduled on 757s, with 767-300ERs on early morning and evening/night flights. It's not uncommon to see the spare 767-200 here, and roughly once a month or so we'll get an L-1011-500.
As far as flights to DFW and CVG go, we almost always have the scheduled 757s (to DFW) and MD-88s/CRJs (to CVG).
The oddest equipment change I ever saw was when a US 757 was not available for the scheduled flight to CLT, so a DC-9-30 (!) was used instead.
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RE: Last Minute Equipment Changes

Wed Jul 12, 2000 9:57 am


This kind of change is quite rare for a long-haul flight AFAIK. Everyting is schedulded a long time before the departure on both commercial and technical sides.

Some cabin crews are sometimes qualified for many long-haul aircraft, but you'd be very lucky to have all F/As able to fly on the aircraft you put as a replacement. As for the pilots, there are always reserve pilots for each aircraft type, so you could manage.

But anyway that seems not so easy. This must depend on the size and the nature of the fleet, as the bigger the more flexibility there is.

However this should be more and more doable in the next years, with Open Sky agreements allowing for quick changes, and with the improvement of yield managment (airline would apply what they do between 737 types on their domestic network for some of them - CO for example - on long-haul aircraft).
At last this would give an economical advantage.

Best regards,
Alain Mengus

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