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blacksoviet
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Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:04 am

By the time Qantas and KLM ordered the 747-400, their 747-300s were all less than six years old. Wouldn’t it have made sense to certify a cockpit conversion to save on crew costs over the next 15-20 years? KLM ended up selling their 747-300s in 2003 while Qantas did not retire their last one until 2009.

Eliminating the Flight Engineer would have brought costs in line after 9/11 and allowed these aircraft to remain in service well into the 2010s.
 
LCDFlight
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:52 am

Apologies because I have only novice info, but 747-400 had significant re-engineering versus 747 Classics. You are asking to fully update a 747 Classic to 744 standard. AFAIK the entire systems architecture was new on 744. It would cost millions and millions of dollars to turn a Classic into a 744 from a systems perspective.

McD did somehow make the MD-10, so it is a "somewhat reasonable" question. But highly burdensome project to do most likely, for a limited reward.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:24 am

They only built 81 total -300s, not a very large base to support all the engineering costs of rewriting and re-plumbing the plane. It’d be a huge bill. The MD-10 was pretty much a FDX plane and McAir had a current design paid for in the MD-11. Apparently, it was a simpler upgrade using the MD-11 Engineering.
 
Captainjc9
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:55 am

It’s quite hard to convert an old aircraft such as the Boeing 747-300 which was designed for a crew of 3 to be converted to a crew of 2. Boeing had by then already delivered the 747-400 and -400ER came later on meaning there was no point. The -400 variant was better overall in fuel consumption and passenger comfort/capacity so there was no point of converting the -300, meaning they just got sold off.
 
Max Q
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:52 pm

blacksoviet wrote:
By the time Qantas and KLM ordered the 747-400, their 747-300s were all less than six years old. Wouldn’t it have made sense to certify a cockpit conversion to save on crew costs over the next 15-20 years? KLM ended up selling their 747-300s in 2003 while Qantas did not retire their last one until 2009.

Eliminating the Flight Engineer would have brought costs in line after 9/11 and allowed these aircraft to remain in service well into the 2010s.



With the routes those aircraft were used on you’re not going to save much by eliminating the FE anyway as in many cases you need a relief pilot or two



At least in the US you could go up to 12 hours without a relief pilot if you had an FE
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 2:02 pm

Max Q wrote:
blacksoviet wrote:
By the time Qantas and KLM ordered the 747-400, their 747-300s were all less than six years old. Wouldn’t it have made sense to certify a cockpit conversion to save on crew costs over the next 15-20 years? KLM ended up selling their 747-300s in 2003 while Qantas did not retire their last one until 2009.

Eliminating the Flight Engineer would have brought costs in line after 9/11 and allowed these aircraft to remain in service well into the 2010s.



With the routes those aircraft were used on you’re not going to save much by eliminating the FE anyway as in many cases you need a relief pilot or two



At least in the US you could go up to 12 hours without a relief pilot if you had an FE


That’s a good point, at least in the US, eliminating the FE and replacing him with a third Pilot didn’t save anything.
 
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747classic
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:42 pm

blacksoviet wrote:
By the time Qantas and KLM ordered the 747-400, their 747-300s were all less than six years old. Wouldn’t it have made sense to certify a cockpit conversion to save on crew costs over the next 15-20 years? KLM ended up selling their 747-300s in 2003 while Qantas did not retire their last one until 2009.

Eliminating the Flight Engineer would have brought costs in line after 9/11 and allowed these aircraft to remain in service well into the 2010s.


KLM had only 3 747-300M aircraft
10x 747-206B(SUD) aircraft were delivered from 1975-1981 and were converted to SUD's during the mid eighties.

Most stretches flown by the 747-200(SUD) /-300 aircraft could be flown with 2 pilots and one F/E, the longer range 747-400's required on most stretches 3 or 4 pilots, so no real cost saving.

During 2002 the aging aircraft discussion popped again and Boeing (and the FAA) required more Wide spread fatigue inspections, introducing new Limits of Validity, reducing the technical lifespan of several legacy aircraft , incl. the 747classics.
Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
 
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MoKa777
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:25 pm

747classic wrote:
During 2002 the aging aircraft discussion popped again and Boeing (and the FAA) required more Wide spread fatigue inspections, introducing new Limits of Validity, reducing the technical lifespan of several legacy aircraft , incl. the 747classics.


This is interesting. I was quite young around that time. May you please elaborate a little more on this statement?
Never be proud. Always be grateful.
 
N1120A
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:05 pm

The MD10 STC covered far more airplanes with a much different mission in life. The 743/742SUD was a more limited airplane that wasn't necessarily going to be flown in mixed fleets for decades to come.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
seven47
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:58 pm

Max Q wrote:
blacksoviet wrote:
By the time Qantas and KLM ordered the 747-400, their 747-300s were all less than six years old. Wouldn’t it have made sense to certify a cockpit conversion to save on crew costs over the next 15-20 years? KLM ended up selling their 747-300s in 2003 while Qantas did not retire their last one until 2009.

Eliminating the Flight Engineer would have brought costs in line after 9/11 and allowed these aircraft to remain in service well into the 2010s.



With the routes those aircraft were used on you’re not going to save much by eliminating the FE anyway as in many cases you need a relief pilot or two



At least in the US you could go up to 12 hours without a relief pilot if you had an FE



I have vivid memories of sitting in the cockpit of 747-200Fs on non-augmented flights that were always flight-planned for EXACTLY 12 hours, but mysteriously ended up being closer to 13 every time. Even with getting up and walking around, 12 hours plus is a long time to be operating an aircraft. I always limited my breaks because I felt badly about leaving my FO wearing his/her O2 mask while I was away.
 
Max Q
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:19 pm

seven47 wrote:
Max Q wrote:
blacksoviet wrote:
By the time Qantas and KLM ordered the 747-400, their 747-300s were all less than six years old. Wouldn’t it have made sense to certify a cockpit conversion to save on crew costs over the next 15-20 years? KLM ended up selling their 747-300s in 2003 while Qantas did not retire their last one until 2009.

Eliminating the Flight Engineer would have brought costs in line after 9/11 and allowed these aircraft to remain in service well into the 2010s.



With the routes those aircraft were used on you’re not going to save much by eliminating the FE anyway as in many cases you need a relief pilot or two



At least in the US you could go up to 12 hours without a relief pilot if you had an FE



I have vivid memories of sitting in the cockpit of 747-200Fs on non-augmented flights that were always flight-planned for EXACTLY 12 hours, but mysteriously ended up being closer to 13 every time. Even with getting up and walking around, 12 hours plus is a long time to be operating an aircraft. I always limited my breaks because I felt badly about leaving my FO wearing his/her O2 mask while I was away.



Sounds familiar

In the Continental days of operating the 757 to Europe they would schedule several return flights at 7.59 to avoid carrying a relief pilot

We would regularly go over 8 hours in practice but scheduling them like that kept it ‘legal’


And a long day with just two pilots and no break
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:42 pm

Max Q wrote:
seven47 wrote:
Max Q wrote:


With the routes those aircraft were used on you’re not going to save much by eliminating the FE anyway as in many cases you need a relief pilot or two



At least in the US you could go up to 12 hours without a relief pilot if you had an FE



I have vivid memories of sitting in the cockpit of 747-200Fs on non-augmented flights that were always flight-planned for EXACTLY 12 hours, but mysteriously ended up being closer to 13 every time. Even with getting up and walking around, 12 hours plus is a long time to be operating an aircraft. I always limited my breaks because I felt badly about leaving my FO wearing his/her O2 mask while I was away.



Sounds familiar

In the Continental days of operating the 757 to Europe they would schedule several return flights at 7.59 to avoid carrying a relief pilot

We would regularly go over 8 hours in practice but scheduling them like that kept it ‘legal’


And a long day with just two pilots and no break


Wouldn't the regulator ding them if they kept exceeding the scheduled block time like that?
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Max Q
Posts: 8557
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: Why didn’t any airlines convert their 747-300s to a two-crew cockpit?

Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:54 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
Max Q wrote:
seven47 wrote:


I have vivid memories of sitting in the cockpit of 747-200Fs on non-augmented flights that were always flight-planned for EXACTLY 12 hours, but mysteriously ended up being closer to 13 every time. Even with getting up and walking around, 12 hours plus is a long time to be operating an aircraft. I always limited my breaks because I felt badly about leaving my FO wearing his/her O2 mask while I was away.



Sounds familiar

In the Continental days of operating the 757 to Europe they would schedule several return flights at 7.59 to avoid carrying a relief pilot

We would regularly go over 8 hours in practice but scheduling them like that kept it ‘legal’


And a long day with just two pilots and no break


Wouldn't the regulator ding them if they kept exceeding the scheduled block time like that?



Yes

IIRC operators were allowed a certain percentage of flights that could exceed the scheduled block time


Not sure what would happen if that percentage was not adhered to, fines perhaps and / or a mandate to carry a relief pilot and schedule more realistically



It was more of an issue in the winter with strong headwinds on the return and periodically a relief was added to the crew



Of course that issue can be and was addressed with a stronger contract that stipulates including a relief on most if not all of the shortest transatlantic and other long haul flights. I believe that’s the case at UA now



The other practice I don’t think has been continued is the relief pilot not working the Eastbound leg on Atlantic crossings, instead they would deadhead on the same aircraft


That doesn’t appear to make much sense especially as that leg is normally flown through the night when most pilots would be more fatigued and welcome a rest break despite the shorter flight going to Europe


But DH pay was 1/2 the block time in those days so the company saved money !
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg

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