PDA

View Full Version : Why no aircraft for skinny, long routes?


AdamFrisch
1st Apr 2011, 02:19
In these days when air travel is the equivalent to having your teeth drilled, I, and many with me, simply refuse to fly hub-and spoke if we can avoid it. Surprisingly often one can't avoid it, especially here in the US. It can be a nightmare. Try to get from LA to New Orleans directly and you'll end up with a paltry two flights a day. Same kind of goes for any semi-big city in the US - always geared towards antiquated hub and spoke systems.

As a Swede, I used to remember our national carrier SAS flying directly from Stockholm to LAX. First with DC-8's, the 747's and finally with DC-10's. They shut that line in the mid 80's, because they couldn't fill these huge planes that were the only ones that could do the trip.

Times have moved on techically, so why hasn't someone made smaller, ETOPS, long range airliners that can serve skinnier routes? A smaller aircraft will burn less fuel and probably be close to the fuel burn/seat as the bigger ones. Sure you get some economics of scale with a thing like the A380, but skinnier routes that no one else serve could also probably take a slightly higher price. I sure as hell would much rather pay $100-200 more to go to Edinburgh directly from NY, than routing via London or Frankfurt. The environment would also benefit by more direct routings. I dream of the day when I can fly back for christmas to my mum in Sweden without changing planes two times.

So why aren't we seeing CRJ1000's with 4-5000nm range? Surely it's just as simple as chucking 20 seats out above the wing, and sticking a fuel tank there, no? I see huge market opportunities if such an aircraft existed.

LA to Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki, Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Copenhagen, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Rome etc etc. One simply can't say there is no demand on these routes - it's the aircrafts that are too big. The list could be made endless.

sevenstrokeroll
1st Apr 2011, 03:20
I think the CRJ is an uncomfortable plane for an hour's flight...for a dozen hours YIKES.

The 757 is etops in some configurations. Indeed, some places fly from the california coast to hawaii in 737's.

tartare
1st Apr 2011, 03:34
I agree.
Auckland - London.
Non-stop.
Straight up the Greenwich meridian and over the top.

Seriously though - the future is ultra long haul.

JohnMcGhie
1st Apr 2011, 04:11
Probably the most comfortable (and quietest...) long-haul aircraft is the A340-500. Singapore to NYK non-stop, 19 hours, easy-peasy.

Of course, if you are sure your passengers will be entirely comfortable sitting four or five hours from a suitable airport on one engine, the A330-200 shorty will do 7,250 nm.

The'll both carry 250 pax, or up to 350 in sardine-class.

tartare
1st Apr 2011, 04:35
Interesting you raised that John.
I was thinking of exactly the same route.
One of the problems with flying long skinny routes tho is that current range/payload capabilities make anything ultra long haul marginal in terms of economics.
A change in aircraft form factor is probably needed.
A blended wing body, powered by geared turbofans = 30% increase in fuel efficiency. Makes a 787 seem like a gas guzzler.
Quite why the airframers are worried about passenger objections to not having a window beats me. Most long haul flights are conducted with pax watching IFE or sleeping.
And I'm sure the problems of pressurizing non-cylindrical fuselages could be overcome.
I'll be an old bloke by the time it happens, but I'm sure we'll see non-stop antipodean / north hemisphere city pairs by 2030 or so...

avionimc
1st Apr 2011, 06:43
I remember Air France operated A319-100LR non-stop between CDG and PNR, distance is slightly more than 3250 NM. Very comfortable flight!

AdamFrisch
1st Apr 2011, 07:10
The A340-500 and -600, the 777-300ER are all fine aircraft, but they're too big for these missions. They can't sustain a LAX to Berlin or Stockholm route - they'd be half empty constantly.

And I have to disagree on the CRJ - it's the quietest aircraft I've ever flown in. I'd rather sit in that for 10hrs than stuck in the middle seat on a 747.

I recently did LAX to Cape Town, routing through Dubai. The LAX to Dubai bit is about 16,5hrs and then it's another 9hrs to CT. Just for fun I tracked it at 8700nm as a direct routing. That's on the very edge of what the 340-500 and 777-200ER can do. And certainly sucj aircraft would be even more unsuitable for such a skinny and extremly long route.

Time will tell. Maybe it's just not profitable, no matter what size, as someone said.

bfisk
1st Apr 2011, 07:52
A smaller aircraft will burn less fuel and probably be close to the fuel burn/seat as the bigger ones.

Well... yes, but no. It may burn slightly less fuel, but it will not be close to the bigger one in terms of fuel burn/seat. This is especially true for larger/longhaul aircraft, because most of the aircraft is in fact not payload, but structure and fuel. Pull some numbers off of Wikipedia - MTOWs of longhaul aircraft today is found seemingly in the 250-400 tonnes range. Be generous and say that each pax accounts for 100kg incl. checked baggage, and you'll see that for, let's say 250-400 pax, the passenger mass only equates to about 10% of the mass of the aircraft at departure. So if you chuck out half the passengers, you lose half your revenue but only 5% of your mass, and that means not a whole lot of fuel.

What you can alter, is as you say the size of the aircraft. However due to the 3-dimensional characters of construction, a halving of volume does not equate to a halving of the wetted area accountable for airframe drag, if you keep the same shape.

You can surely reduce the wetted area by creating a long, slender airframe, but that in turn requires more "stiffness", which is usually translated into more weight. Again, the penalties are rapidly eating into the benefits.



Of course, I'm not saying there's not a market for slim longhaul routes. I'm just saying that there's some very good reasons for why most longhaul routes is flown with large aircraft: they are indeed cheaper pr seat, and while many people say they would like to pay extra for this-that-and-the-other, not enough people are willing to put their money where their mouths are. If it's one thing companies understand, it's hard cash.

GlueBall
1st Apr 2011, 08:20
"Singapore to NYK non-stop, 19 hours, easy-peasy."

In economy class without flat bed seats it would be OK for zombies. :eek:

Capetonian
1st Apr 2011, 08:52
Mainly because unless you have a daily frequency you won't get the business passengers who require the flexibility and whose fares subsidise the lower yield fares.

As soon as you drop to 2 or 3 services weekly, you will fill them, but with mainly low yield traffic, hence the route won't pay.

Piltdown Man
1st Apr 2011, 10:38
You also have to account for "airline mentality." There are very few airlines that can envisage flights that neither start or end up at anywhere other than their main centre of operations. Also, such an operation might also fit into the "too difficult" category as labour agreements might have to be renegotiated. It would also be likely that such aircraft would be flown by 'Junior" pilots as the heros in the 747s/777s and such like wouldn't be able to lower their personal standards and fly something smaller what they currently fly. This would have to be done to get round scope clauses, night flying restrictions, days off etc. and that in turn might make the operation uneconomic. Then you have the "product offering." Would a "business class" passenger be prepared to sit in something like a Embraer 190 for five hours? The economy passenger might actually be better off if some IFE was fitted as the seats are a bit bigger but even then, the aircraft might get a bit claustrophobic.

The right aircraft might be a something like a 737-700 equipped in all business configuration (40-50 seats), with prices to match! Which is probably not what you wanted to hear.

ZFT
1st Apr 2011, 11:00
Having flown LAX - BKK a few times (in a decent seat on a good carrier), how anyone can state "19 hours, easy-peasy" or "Seriously though - the future is ultra long haul" either has never suffered the ordeal of an ultra long haul experience or must knock themselves out for the duration of the flight if they have.

It is an awful experience and I just cannot begin to imagine what it would be like in Y and I certainly have no intentions of ever finding out.

TURIN
1st Apr 2011, 11:00
I think BA's A318 LCY-JFK (via SNN) is as close as you will get. However it serves a particular market (bankers:*). Whether a similar type of operation would work point to point throughout regional airports remains to be seen.

Doodlebug
1st Apr 2011, 11:20
''So why aren't we seeing CRJ1000's with 4-5000nm range? Surely it's just as simple as chucking 20 seats out above the wing, and sticking a fuel tank there, no? I see huge market opportunities if such an aircraft existed.''

Sure they exist. I've just flown one from Eastern Europe to New York. Global XRS. Actually the same tube as the CRJ, a lot more spacious because it doesn't have the overhead bins, mind.

beamender99
1st Apr 2011, 14:48
A blended wing body, powered by geared turbofans = 30% increase in fuel efficiency. Makes a 787 seem like a gas guzzler.
Quite why the airframers are worried about passenger objections to not having a window beats me. Most long haul flights are conducted with pax watching IFE or sleeping.
And I'm sure the problems of pressurizing non-cylindrical fuselages could be overcome.
I'll be an old bloke by the time it happens, but I'm sure we'll see non-stop antipodean / north hemisphere city pairs by 2030 or so...Good progress is being made with the blended wing with the Brits well involved.
One of the three logos on the side is Cranfield Aerospace.

Cranfield Aerospace - Show Latest News (http://www.cranfieldaerospace.com/index.php?mod=show_news&id_nws=25)

NASA - NASA 360: A Look Ahead... X-48B (http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/nasa360/nasa360-x48b.html)

Mach E Avelli
2nd Apr 2011, 03:26
It's already being offered to a limited market with several ultra long-range biz-jets configured for corporate shuttle missions. If the fancy interiors were stripped out and a few other modifications done, some of these could probably be made to move 50 or so pax over 5000nm. Or you could probably cut something like a BBJ as a 90 seater, but it's still going to cost as much as a high-density B739 to run and is only moving half the bums in roughly the same flight time, albeit with fewer landings.
It's economy of scale that defeats this type of operation. Pilots need to be trained and paid near as much as their heavy-iron counterparts. ATC charges, airport handling etc may be (and probably should be) levied on occupancy times in the system rather than size. Also a high-tech small aeroplane consumes almost as many (sometimes more) man-hours maintenance per flight hour as a much bigger one because there is not much difference in the number of components or their complexity - only a size difference. For the beancounters, bigger is better.

grounded27
2nd Apr 2011, 20:38
Answer to OT is simple, hub and spoke is the most profitable system and the flying public is a captive market. Sure an aircraft could be designed to fly "skinny routes" profitably but it would lower the load factors on the heavy very profitable hub to hub flights, would require more aircraft, more crews, more maintenance. Result in logistic issues like parts allocation, crew travel, larger infastructure, would need more spares$$$.

AdamFrisch
2nd Apr 2011, 21:03
Well, when I'm traveling for work, I simply don't have the option to stay an extra day on some halfway destination. Therefore, even though a 19-hour flight is painful while it's taking place, it's far less painful than two 9,5hrs flights, with the rigmarole of twice the security, twice the check ins, layovers for hours the stress of missing connections and going through passport controls etc.

I'm sure that a direct London to Sydney route would do smashing business. It's better to just get there in the shortest possible time and not screw around with stopovers.

I think Tartare is right - ultra long haul is the future.

grounded27
2nd Apr 2011, 21:12
Well, when I'm traveling for work, I simply don't have the option to stay an extra day on some halfway destination. Therefore, even though a 19-hour flight is painful while it's taking place, it's far less painful than two 9,5hrs flights, with the rigmarole of twice the security, twice the check ins, layovers for hours the stress of missing connections and going through passport controls etc.

I'm sure that a direct London to Sydney route would do smashing business. It's better to just get there in the shortest possible time and not screw around with stopovers.

I think Tartare is right - ultra long haul is the future. Even with two crews, I would not want a pilot in an aircraft for 19 hrs landing a flight I am on. I am also afraid that the airlines have no concern for your convenience just your business. I do not see a corp jet being designed for a 19 hr flight as this would be the airlines competition, then this brings us back to my opening statement again.

Genghis the Engineer
3rd Apr 2011, 01:40
In these days when air travel is the equivalent to having your teeth drilled, I, and many with me, simply refuse to fly hub-and spoke if we can avoid it. Surprisingly often one can't avoid it, especially here in the US. It can be a nightmare. Try to get from LA to New Orleans directly and you'll end up with a paltry two flights a day. Same kind of goes for any semi-big city in the US - always geared towards antiquated hub and spoke systems.

As a Swede, I used to remember our national carrier SAS flying directly from Stockholm to LAX. First with DC-8's, the 747's and finally with DC-10's. They shut that line in the mid 80's, because they couldn't fill these huge planes that were the only ones that could do the trip.

Times have moved on techically, so why hasn't someone made smaller, ETOPS, long range airliners that can serve skinnier routes? A smaller aircraft will burn less fuel and probably be close to the fuel burn/seat as the bigger ones. Sure you get some economics of scale with a thing like the A380, but skinnier routes that no one else serve could also probably take a slightly higher price. I sure as hell would much rather pay $100-200 more to go to Edinburgh directly from NY, than routing via London or Frankfurt. The environment would also benefit by more direct routings. I dream of the day when I can fly back for christmas to my mum in Sweden without changing planes two times.

So why aren't we seeing CRJ1000's with 4-5000nm range? Surely it's just as simple as chucking 20 seats out above the wing, and sticking a fuel tank there, no? I see huge market opportunities if such an aircraft existed.

LA to Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki, Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Copenhagen, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Rome etc etc. One simply can't say there is no demand on these routes - it's the aircrafts that are too big. The list could be made endless.

Like a Gulfstream V you mean? 5,800nm range, 19 passengers (always go with 19 rather than 20, it's the threshold between part 23 and the much more expensive part 25 certification), selling a moderate but healthy 20 or so aeroplanes per year. Netjets seem to work their eight pretty hard.

That said, ultra-long-haul is probably heading for the past, when taxation and corporate image become increasingly related to environmental impact and a very long haul aeroplane burns so much fuel just to tanker fuel, rather than multiple 1000-3000 mile legs, which from a carbon footprint viewpoint, look a lot less bad.

G

galaxy flyer
3rd Apr 2011, 02:05
Genghis

The G V is a Part 25 plane, as are all business jets over 12,500, so no biz jet OEM is getting around FAR 25. Both Gulfstream and Bombardier AR selling north of 50 long-range business per year, EACH. There are over 400 Global Expresses, all FAR 25 certified. There is no 19 versus 20 seat distinction in FAR 25.

On point, the G8000, in development will be a 7900 nm plane which translates into 17+15, take-off to landing. Marketing press releases talk about HKG-NYC, non-stop.

fdcg27
4th Apr 2011, 00:51
Between those city pairs where there is enough passenger traffic willing to pay for it, there are already nonstop flights.
These cities are usually hubs.
Hubs are usually located, with some exceptions, in metro areas with enough population and enough wealth to make a wide range of destinations profitable.
In the US, major hubs for overseas flying are located in New York, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Los Angelos, San Francisco, Atlanta and the like.
Note that these are all large metro area, and have significant numbers of well off folks, as well as significant business operations which may require that employees travel far and wide.
Now, if I am an airline, I might find it economically desirable to operate an aircraft larger than what local demand requires, and fill it by bringing passengers in from the hinterlands on CRJs and ERJs and even turboprops.
This is, of course, a hub and spoke operation.
Our little home airport (DAY) offers one stop connections to a large slice of the world.
It will never offer the nonstop flights of a JFK, ORD or ATL, since the wealthy population base to support such service doesn't exist.
Those who wish to fly overseas and can afford to therefore have to connect somewhere, which I have never found to be a major issue in our travels.
The future began more than twenty-five years ago, and it is hub and spoke.
ULR nonstops will never be more than a curiousity.
I myself would not like to sit on a plane for more than eight hours at a stretch, but that's just my preference.

Bolty McBolt
5th Apr 2011, 04:37
I too have always wondered why no long range on skinny long routes.
Example. Fly a 777-200LR in premium config (Business class + leg room economy) LHR to SYD
None-stop .
Surely the business traveler (not pax in business class seat) would jump at the opportunity to avoid the transit in Asia or the M.E. with shorter travel time etc
With 10 or so carriers on this route every day, I would have thought the demand would be there to fill a flight of this description
Two cents

Dairyground
5th Apr 2011, 16:02
That said, ultra-long-haul is probably heading for the past, when taxation and corporate image become increasingly related to environmental impact and a very long haul aeroplane burns so much fuel just to tanker fuel, rather than multiple 1000-3000 mile legs, which from a carbon footprint viewpoint, look a lot less bad.




There will always be a point where the cost of tankering fuel exceeds the cost (including the extra cycle, deviation from direct path and no doubt a host of other things) of stopping to top up on the way. If two routes cross anywhere near the mid-point, then it could make sense to permit passengers to change from one route to the other there, potentially expanding the customer base and permitting the use of larger aircraft with lower seat-mile costs. press the concept a little further, bring other feeder routes to the tech stop point, and you have reinvented the hub and spoke system.

Genghis the Engineer
7th Apr 2011, 10:59
Genghis

The G V is a Part 25 plane, as are all business jets over 12,500, so no biz jet OEM is getting around FAR 25. Both Gulfstream and Bombardier AR selling north of 50 long-range business per year, EACH. There are over 400 Global Expresses, all FAR 25 certified. There is no 19 versus 20 seat distinction in FAR 25.

On point, the G8000, in development will be a 7900 nm plane which translates into 17+15, take-off to landing. Marketing press releases talk about HKG-NYC, non-stop.

GF

Fair point: 12,500lb/9 pax, or 19,000lb/19 pax for turbo/piston props.

I wonder then why Gulfstream specifically limited themselves to 19 seats? I don't think there's any advantage in this number in part 25? Is it a licencing / single pilot ops issues?

G

galaxy flyer
7th Apr 2011, 15:55
Genghis

Not sure of the basis for 19 passengers, but the Global Express has the same 19 pax limit. The CL 604/605 have a 22 pax limit, IIRC.

AdamFrisch
9th Apr 2011, 00:09
I just don't understand some of the routings from airlines. Like trying to go to South America from LA. It's virtually impossible without routing through Miami (which is the worst airport in the world, btw). You can go as far as Mexico City, but then it's like the Berlin Wall. You can't get to Argentina, Chile or Brazil from the west coast without routing through something. It's bizarre.

Gulfstream seems a tad bit pricy for regular long haul. But a CRJ1000ER ETOPS could probably drum up some business.

sb_sfo
9th Apr 2011, 16:18
You can go to Santiago via Lima from SFO on LAN since last summer.

grounded27
9th Apr 2011, 18:02
MIA-GRU 7.5-8 HRS, MIA-SCL 8 HRS, MIA-EZE 8.5-9HRS. LAX would make for a really long flight, pretty sure you could tag 4 hours onto those flights. Delta services those city pairings out of ATL. Lan offers direct flights from JFK to eze and scl all direct flights. The flight time/market is probably why you can not find the flight you desire. Miami and NYC both have large S.A. markets, Atlanta is just Delta's hub.

avgenie
11th Apr 2011, 04:59
AdamFrisch raises a very good question (the first in this mail string). Airplanes optimized for skinny routes could eliminate unnecessary transit stops for passengers, reduce the total fossil fuel burn, help environment. Direct point-to-point operations is the most efficient way to go. Now that ETOPS is routine, it should allow manufacturers to design efficient ETOPS twins for such operations. I wonder if the big boys are fat and happy with their product line, may be some new scrappy manufacturer can make a mark by exploiting this niche!

c100driver
14th Apr 2011, 10:45
If you look at flying between two points on a long range operation then the cost per seat mile increases inversely to the aircraft available seats with current fleet types.

The aeroplane for long skinny routes would have to be a huge improvement over current types to keep down the cost per seat mile, which was what we saw with the B787 and explains why the airlines were so keen on it with Boeing projected 30% reduction in operating costs (if it fly's as advertised).

Taildragger67
14th Apr 2011, 11:02
Bolty,

Qantas looked at just that a few years ago but couldn't guarantee non-payload-limited non-stop, year-round.

EK run Dubai-Houston with a 3-class and SQ run a daily A345 SIN-EWR non-stop, but the latter is all-business - only 100 seats. 19 hours. :eek::yuk:

grounded27
14th Apr 2011, 18:50
AdamFrisch raises a very good question (the first in this mail string). Airplanes optimized for skinny routes could eliminate unnecessary transit stops for passengers, reduce the total fossil fuel burn, help environment. Direct point-to-point operations is the most efficient way to go. Now that ETOPS is routine, it should allow manufacturers to design efficient ETOPS twins for such operations. I wonder if the big boys are fat and happy with their product line, may be some new scrappy manufacturer can make a mark by exploiting this niche!


Read the whole thread and you will better understand why this will never happen. Bottom line is that the airlines make more money with the current system, if you gave them a more efficient aircraft they would just utilize it on the most suitable hub and spoke route. The manufacturer's design aircraft for their customers needs, the airline not the passenger.

oceancrosser
14th Apr 2011, 20:35
AdamFrisch raises a very good question (the first in this mail string). Airplanes optimized for skinny routes could eliminate unnecessary transit stops for passengers, reduce the total fossil fuel burn, help environment. Direct point-to-point operations is the most efficient way to go. Now that ETOPS is routine, it should allow manufacturers to design efficient ETOPS twins for such operations. I wonder if the big boys are fat and happy with their product line, may be some new scrappy manufacturer can make a mark by exploiting this niche!

Er, no actually quite the opposite. Flying e.g. 19 hrs instead of two 9,5 hr legs in any kind of airplane (given it has the range) means the non-stop flight will burn more because of the weight of carrying the fuel. Simple.

nicolai
18th Apr 2011, 09:09
I wonder then why Gulfstream specifically limited themselves to 19 seats? I don't think there's any advantage in this number in part 25? Is it a licencing / single pilot ops issues?
G

FAR part 91 (referenced from Part 25) requires (http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=8a5065c5b9ff6518c3d523c625b41756&rgn=div8&view=text&node=14:2.0.1.3.10.6.7.17&idno=14) a (appropriately qualified) flight attendant(s) on aircraft seating more than 19 passengers.

So by limiting themselves to 19 seats they make that extra trained crewmember optional.

avgenie
23rd Apr 2011, 04:05
grounded27
Read the whole thread and you will better understand why this will never happen. Bottom line is that the airlines make more money with the current system, if you gave them a more efficient aircraft they would just utilize it on the most suitable hub and spoke route. The manufacturer's design aircraft for their customers needs, the airline not the passenger.grounded27, have difficulty agreeing with you. Until the early 1980s, airlines operated big airplanes like the 747 on hub-spoke, when the manufacturers introduced the 767, A330, and ETOPS became a reality, airlines opened many point to point operations between US and Europe. Same thing happened in the Pacific with the 777. Airlines have to make money to survive, there's nothing wrong with that. If the manufacturers have super smart designs and can convince the airlines with facts and data that their new cutting edge designs can cater to certain market and show the airlines can make money at reasonable fare levels, the airlines will go for it.

Despite all the negative news in the media, airlines do their best to serve their customers. Often the disconnect is when the passengers want to pay the cheapest coach fare and expect the first class service.

oceancrosser
Er, no actually quite the opposite. Flying e.g. 19 hrs instead of two 9,5 hr legs in any kind of airplane (given it has the range) means the non-stop flight will burn more because of the weight of carrying the fuel. Simple. oceancrosser, you're right if you compare same routing waypoints with transit vs no transit but typically when you use connecting flights, one often ends up flying few hundred extra miles to find the connecting flights compared to point-to-point operations.

grounded27
23rd Apr 2011, 21:56
If the manufacturers have super smart designs and can convince the airlines with facts and data that their new cutting edge designs can cater to certain market and show the airlines can make money at reasonable fare levels, the airlines will go for it.

Despite all the negative news in the media, airlines do their best to serve their customers. Often the disconnect is when the passengers want to pay the cheapest coach fare and expect the first class service.

Manufacturers have no interest in convincing an airline to cater to a market. The airline all ready knows how to exploit a market best and the manufacturer caters to the airlines desires. Airlines "legacy's" on a big level do not compete as much as you think, they are more like thugs who claim a turf. A small airline enters into their turf and they will operate at a loss just to shut them down EG: independence air in the usa circa 2004-2005. If you give them a more efficient aircraft they will utilize it in the most efficient manner first, not the most crowd pleasing.

To say it again, if an airline was to take an ultra modern long haul aircraft and operate it on a direct flight that bucked the system the competition would become fierce and that airline would have a hell of a time making their required load factor and probably be pushed out of business.

The spoke end of a hub and spoke system is often a burden on an airline, this is why we use commuters and low cost carriers are allowed to operate. They have much lower overhead (often pay crap, or in some cases pilots are learning to fly on these flights). The smaller the aircraft the less efficient per pax it is in most cases. An airline can not be troubled with a business that is completely different than it's own. Think of the liability of labor, maintenance, training, CAA safety record etc..

I understand your ideals and think they are great, I just fear it is a much more difficult business out there than you comprehend at this moment.