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claytonyu
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How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:36 am

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/ ... index.html

I sometimes see people posting photos and videos of vintage airliners, such as DC-8 and 707, or sometimes even A300/A310 flying around. These planes are most likely over 40 years in service and seriously how do they stay in service while other planes that fly for only 10-15 years are retired due to metal fatigue. Older planes experience way more metal fatigue and are likely to fail than those that are used for 10-15 years. Is there a way around metal fatigue? Perhaps they overhaul vintage pressurized plane fuselages?
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:02 am

Any aircraft can be maintained in airworthy condition as long as you perform enough maintenance. However, you might end up with a "Ship of Theseus", where most original parts have been replaced.

Airliners have a design life measured in cycles and hours. This can be extended through maintenance programs. For example, the USAF operates hundreds of KC-135s, the last of which was built in 1965. These have been extensively modified and maintained, including glass cockpits and in many cases engine replacement with turbofans.

For structural members subject to metal fatigue, life extension could mean anything from more frequent inspections to replacing with a new part.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:13 am

Starlionblue wrote:
Any aircraft can be maintained in airworthy condition as long as you perform enough maintenance. However, you might end up with a "Ship of Theseus", where most original parts have been replaced.

Airliners have a design life measured in cycles and hours. This can be extended through maintenance programs. For example, the USAF operates hundreds of KC-135s, the last of which was built in 1965. These have been extensively modified and maintained, including glass cockpits and in many cases engine replacement with turbofans.

For structural members subject to metal fatigue, life extension could mean anything from more frequent inspections to replacing with a new part.


When they replace new parts, this includes manufacturing and placing completely new pieces of fuselage am I right? Maybe they should try composite parts to prolong the life and avoid fatigue? idk
 
rfields5421
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:47 am

It is a matter of money, and availability of parts. Throw enough dollars at a plane, find enough volunteers willing to work, and they can be kept flying for long, long times.

The Lockheed Super Constellation is a special aircraft to me. Flew about 1,250 hours on cargo and ECM versions of the plane in 1972-74 during my first Navy tour. I've watched the situation of the flyable birds deteriorated as parts are becoming an issue. Several aircraft on display, and almost none are maintained in condition to have usable parts.

I suspect the aircraft currently flying in some cases are not really high time/ cycles aircraft. At one time in my youth, I would guess the average commercial passenger aircraft averaged under 120 hours a month. Since airline deregulation and the explosion of air travel in the 70s and 80s, utilization is much higher.

Replacing original parts with new things like composites brings up whole issues of certification and such. Many places can fabricate new metal parts from existing examples. Building new parts from composites I suspect is much harder and more expensive. I could be wrong.
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Starlionblue
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:33 am

rfields5421 wrote:
Replacing original parts with new things like composites brings up whole issues of certification and such. Many places can fabricate new metal parts from existing examples. Building new parts from composites I suspect is much harder and more expensive. I could be wrong.


That was my first thought as well. Plus composite flexes differently compared to aluminium, so you'd have issues with interfaces not behaving as originally designed.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Dalmd88
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:49 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
rfields5421 wrote:
Replacing original parts with new things like composites brings up whole issues of certification and such. Many places can fabricate new metal parts from existing examples. Building new parts from composites I suspect is much harder and more expensive. I could be wrong.


That was my first thought as well. Plus composite flexes differently compared to aluminium, so you'd have issues with interfaces not behaving as originally designed.

Sounds great, except you need to do all the engineering to prove it. It's just easier to make another cheap Aluminum part. One reason the older aircraft can go on is they were way over built. The 727 and the 737 are very similar, except many of the structural parts on the 737, even the classics are lighter weight. They just don't last as long.
 
unimproved
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:53 pm

For the fuselage there is often a life extension program that requires parts to be reinforced or replaced after a number of cycles.
 
strfyr51
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:49 pm

claytonyu wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
Any aircraft can be maintained in airworthy condition as long as you perform enough maintenance. However, you might end up with a "Ship of Theseus", where most original parts have been replaced.

Airliners have a design life measured in cycles and hours. This can be extended through maintenance programs. For example, the USAF operates hundreds of KC-135s, the last of which was built in 1965. These have been extensively modified and maintained, including glass cockpits and in many cases engine replacement with turbofans.

For structural members subject to metal fatigue, life extension could mean anything from more frequent inspections to replacing with a new part.


When they replace new parts, this includes manufacturing and placing completely new pieces of fuselage am I right? Maybe they should try composite parts to prolong the life and avoid fatigue? idk

the testing alone with the engineering costs woukd equal more than the airplane is worth seeing as to how the Major castings can be manufactured still. Either by the OEM or by STC.
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:35 am

unimproved wrote:
For the fuselage there is often a life extension program that requires parts to be reinforced or replaced after a number of cycles.

Is there a maximum number of life extensions the fuselage can undergo?
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:47 am

claytonyu wrote:
unimproved wrote:
For the fuselage there is often a life extension program that requires parts to be reinforced or replaced after a number of cycles.

Is there a maximum number of life extensions the fuselage can undergo?


I don't think so. It would come down to an economic argument. You could keep flying an airliner indefinitely, but extensions would become more and more expensive. On the other side of the equation, the efficiency of new models improves over time. At some point extending starts costing more than upgrading.

If you're flying a classic airliner for display purposes, the equation is different. First off, you can't replace with a new model since that would defeat the purpose. Secondly, you accept higher cost than a commercial operation. Thirdly, display operations tend to put far fewer cycles and hours on the frame, plus you don't have those pesky customers and the cargo adding wear and tear.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:25 am

Starlionblue wrote:
claytonyu wrote:
unimproved wrote:
For the fuselage there is often a life extension program that requires parts to be reinforced or replaced after a number of cycles.

Is there a maximum number of life extensions the fuselage can undergo?


I don't think so. It would come down to an economic argument. You could keep flying an airliner indefinitely, but extensions would become more and more expensive. On the other side of the equation, the efficiency of new models improves over time. At some point extending starts costing more than upgrading.

If you're flying a classic airliner for display purposes, the equation is different. First off, you can't replace with a new model since that would defeat the purpose. Secondly, you accept higher cost than a commercial operation. Thirdly, display operations tend to put far fewer cycles and hours on the frame, plus you don't have those pesky customers and the cargo adding wear and tear.

So technically its possible to rescue an old aircraft rotting in the boneyard? They should do that to some of the old 747s and iconic airliners in the future
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:43 am

claytonyu wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
claytonyu wrote:
Is there a maximum number of life extensions the fuselage can undergo?


I don't think so. It would come down to an economic argument. You could keep flying an airliner indefinitely, but extensions would become more and more expensive. On the other side of the equation, the efficiency of new models improves over time. At some point extending starts costing more than upgrading.

If you're flying a classic airliner for display purposes, the equation is different. First off, you can't replace with a new model since that would defeat the purpose. Secondly, you accept higher cost than a commercial operation. Thirdly, display operations tend to put far fewer cycles and hours on the frame, plus you don't have those pesky customers and the cargo adding wear and tear.

So technically its possible to rescue an old aircraft rotting in the boneyard? They should do that to some of the old 747s and iconic airliners in the future


Technically, yes. And practically, also yes. It has been done on several occasions.

For example, a group of Aussies found a Super Connie in a US boneyard near Tucson, purchased her, restored her over several years, and flew her back home to Australia. https://hars.org.au/lockheed-c-121c-sup ... tellation/
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
LCDFlight
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:32 pm

A machine with a known duty cycle has unlimited lifespan. A car or aircraft can last 100+ years. Unlike humans, whose bodies disintegrate over time. Machines do not decay, if they are kept in ok condition, protected from corrosion. They can even probably last 500 years. 50 years certain things like poor wiring or plastics can potentially decay. There is a worry that obsolete electronics will be a problem.
 
asr0dzjq
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:49 pm

9Q-CLK is a good example.
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Dalmd88
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:54 pm

claytonyu wrote:
So technically its possible to rescue an old aircraft rotting in the boneyard? They should do that to some of the old 747s and iconic airliners in the future

I think with the more modern 1960's vintage and up it will be harder to do. The systems of these planes are a lot more complex than say a 1940's DC3. The electronics are going to be hard to maintain for a one off or small world wide fleet. The e/e compartment is full of electronic boxes that will eventually need a repair. They have to be done by a certified shop that as the technical manuals an can source the parts. That supply chain will get very slim as time goes by.

In contrast a plane like the DC3 has virtually no electronics that can't be replaced by a new build component. Things like VHF radios. The instruments are all very similar to thousands of general aviation panel instruments. Systems like hydraulics can usually be refurbished with just a good disassemble, clean and o-ring replacements. Structural parts can be made with the basic old sheetmetal tools found in hangars all over the place.

Now engines for both of these examples are the biggest hurdle. Sourcing the parts is getting harder and harder, even for newer engines that are out of production. Finding pistons that were last made in the 1950's. Finding a turbine blade set for something last made in the late 60's. There is only so much of this stuff laying on parts shelves. Making it new for low production runs would be very expensive.
 
rfields5421
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:32 pm

The issue with the Connie's is engine parts. Those 3350's are complex, and though there are a lot of engines sitting is static display aircraft, almost all are completely unusable as parts sources.

Lufthansa bought TWO potentially flyable Connie's 2007, using one for parts. The other was worked upon for years in the US, eventually disassembled and shipped to Germany, where there is significant doubt the aircraft will ever be more than a static display.

I doubt I shall ever be able to see one in the air again.
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dennypayne
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:17 am

claytonyu wrote:
So technically its possible to rescue an old aircraft rotting in the boneyard? They should do that to some of the old 747s and iconic airliners in the future


Whoever "they" is better have a lot of money to burn. Anything's possible with enough cash, but Dalmd88's post is likely the best explanation for why this won't happen.



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claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:05 am

I wanna learn more about restorations, although idk which companies perform them.
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:09 am

Dalmd88 wrote:
claytonyu wrote:
So technically its possible to rescue an old aircraft rotting in the boneyard? They should do that to some of the old 747s and iconic airliners in the future

I think with the more modern 1960's vintage and up it will be harder to do. The systems of these planes are a lot more complex than say a 1940's DC3. The electronics are going to be hard to maintain for a one off or small world wide fleet. The e/e compartment is full of electronic boxes that will eventually need a repair. They have to be done by a certified shop that as the technical manuals an can source the parts. That supply chain will get very slim as time goes by.

In contrast a plane like the DC3 has virtually no electronics that can't be replaced by a new build component. Things like VHF radios. The instruments are all very similar to thousands of general aviation panel instruments. Systems like hydraulics can usually be refurbished with just a good disassemble, clean and o-ring replacements. Structural parts can be made with the basic old sheetmetal tools found in hangars all over the place.

Now engines for both of these examples are the biggest hurdle. Sourcing the parts is getting harder and harder, even for newer engines that are out of production. Finding pistons that were last made in the 1950's. Finding a turbine blade set for something last made in the late 60's. There is only so much of this stuff laying on parts shelves. Making it new for low production runs would be very expensive.


Interesting! Is it possible to maybe just overhaul all the old electronics and systems with modern ones? Something more efficient and sustainable
 
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fr8mech
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:35 am

claytonyu wrote:

Interesting! Is it possible to maybe just overhaul all the old electronics and systems with modern ones? Something more efficient and sustainable


Two words: certification costs.

But yes, I guess it would be possible.
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BravoOne
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:05 pm

For a complete rundown on Constellation survivors, both airworthy and not, check out http://www.conniesurvivors.com
 
tu204
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:41 pm

fr8mech wrote:
claytonyu wrote:

Interesting! Is it possible to maybe just overhaul all the old electronics and systems with modern ones? Something more efficient and sustainable


Two words: certification costs.

But yes, I guess it would be possible.


Technically speaking, if you just want to fly it around for kicks and not carry paying passengers, couldn't you just rebuild/refurbish worn/expired parts at uncertified shops (it isn't that hard to rebuild stuff, technology got pretty advanced now), and just certify it as "experimental"?
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citationjet
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:33 pm

claytonyu wrote:
So t[url][/url]echnically its possible to rescue an old aircraft rotting in the boneyard?


The answer is yes, given enough time and money. Although not an airliner, the recently restored B-29 Doc is an example of this. Doc sat in the desert from 1956 until about 2000. After hundreds of thousands of hours of restoration over a 16 year period, Doc flew again in 2016.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_(aircraft)

Doc’s first flight
https://youtu.be/CscShi3BV8Q
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seven47
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:52 pm

Keeping a vintage aircraft flyable is mostly a matter performing of proactive and continual maintenance which, of course, translates into having enough money to do so. I've been flying a B-25 on the airshow circuit for 6 years (and flew a C-47 prior to the B-25), and I can tell you that all of the warbirds in our organization are maintained like classic cars! The level of dedication that our maintainers and ground crews put into the care and handling of these aircraft rivals, and in some ways exceeds, that of the maintenance crews at my day job airline. That's a big statement because my airline's maintenance department is excellent!
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:27 am

Are there any specific companies that do aircraft restoration? I wanna check them out and even follow their social media accounts
 
rfields5421
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:06 pm

Never heard of any.

I doubt the market is large enough for anyone to do it on a commercial basis. Most that I've heard of have been only possible through hundreds, or thousands, of volunteer hours.

If you search around and find a couple projects being done, try to follow them. But expect weeks of inactivity.
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FGITD
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:16 pm

I've known some great people involved in a few restorations and I don't think a company could really manage it. It's really a labor of love, and in order to be done properly, timelines and strict budgets go out the window.

I'm sure having a dedicated team of salaried restorers would speed things up, but the cost would be immense, beyond the already high cost of restoration.

Social media for restorations can be heartbreaking. Look no further than the LH connie in Maine. Years of works, a literal fortune spent. One month the update says things are going great, progressing nicely, can't wait to get her back in the sky! ....next month word comes that the project is cancelled, cut off the wings and box her up, she'll never fly again. Or another example, that b-29 that caught fire on the ice.
 
SandraG
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:48 am

claytonyu wrote:
Are there any specific companies that do aircraft restoration? I wanna check them out and even follow their social media accounts


I think so, if I´m not mistaken the Pf Fishpole Hoist Inc in Washington does that kind of service or the Pride Aircraft in Illinois
 
trijetsonly
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:22 pm

There's a company in southern Germany, that is specialized on rebuilding and maintaining classic planes.
https://www.meiermotors.com

Usually, they're dealing with fighters and smaller bombers but rumor is that they won a contract to rebuild the Swiss Super Connie.
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BravoOne
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:46 pm

The Boeing Museum of Flight has restoration facility at PAE. Not really related to The Boeing Company.
 
ZKNCI
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:26 pm

claytonyu wrote:
Are there any specific companies that do aircraft restoration? I wanna check them out and even follow their social media accounts

Two at Ardmore Airport in New Zealand, Pioneer Aero and Avspecs.
No pressurised airliners yet (although they have done pressurised military types such as the Strikemaster and unpressurised airliners like the Dragon Rapide), but are well-known for full-time restoration of classic aircraft, notably the P-40, Spitfire and Mosquito (all three Mosquitoes currently flying came from Avspecs at Ardmore)
http://www.pioneeraero.co.nz/
https://www.warbirdrestoration.co.nz/intro.html
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:46 pm

Thanks for your suggestions! Finally something to check out during this lockdown!
 
claytonyu
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:52 pm

FGITD wrote:
I've known some great people involved in a few restorations and I don't think a company could really manage it. It's really a labor of love, and in order to be done properly, timelines and strict budgets go out the window.

I'm sure having a dedicated team of salaried restorers would speed things up, but the cost would be immense, beyond the already high cost of restoration.

Social media for restorations can be heartbreaking. Look no further than the LH connie in Maine. Years of works, a literal fortune spent. One month the update says things are going great, progressing nicely, can't wait to get her back in the sky! ....next month word comes that the project is cancelled, cut off the wings and box her up, she'll never fly again. Or another example, that b-29 that caught fire on the ice.


Seriously? Why box her up?
 
FGITD
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Re: How are some vintage airliners still operational?

Sat Apr 25, 2020 2:21 pm

claytonyu wrote:
FGITD wrote:
I've known some great people involved in a few restorations and I don't think a company could really manage it. It's really a labor of love, and in order to be done properly, timelines and strict budgets go out the window.

I'm sure having a dedicated team of salaried restorers would speed things up, but the cost would be immense, beyond the already high cost of restoration.

Social media for restorations can be heartbreaking. Look no further than the LH connie in Maine. Years of works, a literal fortune spent. One month the update says things are going great, progressing nicely, can't wait to get her back in the sky! ....next month word comes that the project is cancelled, cut off the wings and box her up, she'll never fly again. Or another example, that b-29 that caught fire on the ice.


Seriously? Why box her up?


I believe Lufthansa finally grew tired of throwing money into a bottomless pit of restoration. I think in total something to the tune of €200 million had been spent. Granted it was not a typical restoration, they were actually modernising her as well. But all the same, they were told to dismantle and keep no records of the process.

The connie bar at the JFK TWA hotel was actually the parts donor for that project

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