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Daily 737 legs in the 1980s

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Daily 737 legs in the 1980s

Old 30th Aug 2016, 16:22
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Daily 737 legs in the 1980s

Any thoughts on how many legs a day a Britannia or Orion 737 would be doing a day in the 1980s on bucket and spade charter flights?
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Old 30th Aug 2016, 17:30
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Britannia a commercial number. Orion a lot less - they could be seen resting between flights at various airports around Europe!
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Old 30th Aug 2016, 18:19
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In my memory, during the peak summer period, around 17 / 18 rotations per week, so 36 - 38 sectors. In those days it wasn't unusual for an IT operators, such as BY or KG to depart ca. 07:00 on a route like BHX/PMI, returning around 13:30, out again at 14:30 on a similar duration trip, returning around 20:30, then an overnight rotation departing at around 21:30, returning in the early hours.

Obviously on longer runs, such as TFS, LPA or HER they may have only squeezed 2 trips per day (4 sectors) out of the aircraft.

These days it seams as though the ghastly overnight rotations have become less common.
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Old 30th Aug 2016, 18:22
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During the peak summer I would say a maximum of three round trips. As an imaginative example, the likes of Monarch or Britannia might have flown MAN-PMI-MAN-ALC-LBA-ALC-MAN with a single aircraft between breakfast time and the small hours. Doesn't give much down time for maintenance, mind you. I remember hearing on a BBC Look North documentary circa 1984 that a 737 holiday jet needed a minimum of fourteen hours flying time every day just to cover its costs.

WHBM may be able to provide a more precise answer, if he's reading this thread.
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Old 30th Aug 2016, 18:34
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Britannia in particular seemed to flog their 737-200s in the summer.
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Old 30th Aug 2016, 22:13
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Monarch were getting 18 hrs a day peak season. The aircraft never got switched off & the seats were always warm.
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Old 31st Aug 2016, 00:43
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A long way rom UK, but in Western Australia our Fokker 28s would do a 2300 departure, 5 sectors to Darwin, Gove Groot x2, 6 sectors and return to Perth with 5 more at about 2200.

I once picked up the Aircraft from this to start off to do it again.

Average yearly 3200, peak holiday season a rate if projected to annual of 3900,
we worked the wheels off them at times

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Old 31st Aug 2016, 10:29
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I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure during the summer Britannia would use one 737 on the 2 x Schedule to belfast with 2x troopers to Germany inbetween. The last Belfast would get back about 2200, then it would do a night charter to somewhere in the Med.

I'm pretty sure there are not as many night flights, especially holiday charters, now as there were in the 70s and 80s.
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Old 1st Sep 2016, 07:02
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I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure during the summer Britannia would use one 737 on the 2 x Schedule to belfast with 2x troopers to Germany inbetween. The last Belfast would get back about 2200, then it would do a night charter to somewhere in the Med.
Not wrong at all, spot on. BAL policy was to use the aircraft intensively, and even the B737-200 fleet would achieve 4000 hrs (airborne, not block time) per year.
There was, for at least one Summer, an aircraft that did four rotations from LTN to Gerona in 24 hrs. Th final one was at a very uncivilised time, someting like 0200 BST dep from LTN. Sector time would be around 1:30 airborne.
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Old 2nd Sep 2016, 23:21
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Pretty much as described, the high summer weekend pattern for a number of operators was typically three round trips to the main Med points like Palma or Malaga, departing around 0800, 1500 and 2200. Getting back at 0500/0600 gave a few hours for quick maintenance and/or schedule recovery. The longer 3.5-4 hour flights to the Canaries or Greek islands were generally clear of weekends, you could get just two of these in a day. It was common for given destinations to be served on the same day of the week by all operators from all origins because this helped hotel arrangements and also shoulder season flight consolidation - Malaga on Friday night, Palma on Saturday, Fuerteventura in the Canaries on Wednesday etc.

Easily done from Gatwick, just about from Manchester as well, from Glasgow was a bit of a push. Reference above to getting four rotations in. This was done, maybe just for Saturday, from LGW/LUT only, out to the nearest points like Gerona/Barcelona. Court Line, until their 1974 bankruptcy, did this especially with their colourful One-Elevens, departures from Luton at 0800, 1400, 2000 and 0200.

A 737 or a new One-Eleven could manage this sort of high usage, Dan-Air with their secondhand fleet or British Airtours with their ex-BOAC 707s would generally need a bit more slack, although everyone tried for the maximum on Saturdays.

Actual overnight flights as described above do seem to have reduced, but nowadays you often find the first departures are much earlier, say at 0600, and aircraft are getting back to Gatwick still at 0100 or later, so things have just shifted a bit but utilisation is still high. In the 1970s-80s the equivalent German holiday flights were always like this, a whole platoon leaving right at 0600, someone once wrote "Germans refuse to fly at night". This impacted on UK operators as one of the major charter flight bases for them at the time was West Berlin, where Laker, Dan-Air and others had a number of aircraft based, often exchanging at the Mediterranean end if required. UK seconded pilots but German FAs.


In my experience Orion scheduled pretty much like the rest. But each operator had its own nuances it seemed; Laker got their One-Elevens to the Canaries, which seemed beyond the others. Britannia didn't seem to consolidate with the others as the season ended, unlike the rest. I'm sure each had just one or two wise sages in advance ops planning who had their own approach.

I used to accumulate my own summer season records of all this from various sources, oh for an Excel spreadsheet to keep it. In those older days my main recording medium was to write each rotation on the blank back of 80-column cards purloined from the computer department (you'll have to look these up if you don't know what one is). Made it easy to (hand) sort them by airport, destination or aircraft. Alas they have long gone the way of all flesh.
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Old 3rd Sep 2016, 08:28
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usually 3 sectors a day (up to 2.5 /3 hours in length) to include a night flight but on the odd day you could get 4 sectors in -
other days maybe 2 longer sectors like TFS or LPA in the morning and HER in the early evening

at OM/MON we had an 0200 dep LGW-CFU on a Monday night (Tues morning)
the 737 had already done 3 rotations on that Monday thus making 4 rotations
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Old 3rd Sep 2016, 15:59
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WHBM

In those older days my main recording medium was to write each rotation on the blank back of 80-column cards purloined from the computer department (you'll have to look these up if you don't know what one is). Made it easy to (hand) sort them by airport, destination or aircraft. Alas they have long gone the way of all flesh.
I still have a couple of hundred.
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Old 4th Sep 2016, 15:46
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I think Orion used to have a 737 from Ema which night stopped on Tenerife on a Friday.
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Old 5th Sep 2016, 06:49
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Just to add, the Britannia 737's used to swop around frequently (seemed like every other flight!) as well while operating 3 rotations a day - unlike Thomson 737's today (at NCL at least) which stay based for months.

Dan air on the other hand based a 737 at NCL (usually G-BLDE which never swapped) which also worked its socks off but only did 2 flights (as far as I can remember) on a Thursday and no night flight presumably for maintenance/catch up if one of the massive delays quite common in the 80's had struck earlier in the week.
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Old 5th Sep 2016, 09:30
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Dan Air used to have a HS748 at Leeds/Bradford that had a daily routine that was something like: Leeds - Glasgow - Leeds - Cardiff - Bournemouth - Jersey - Guernsey - Bournemouth - Cardiff - Leeds - Glasgow - Leeds.

I used it as SLF and I could go up to Glasgow in the morning, do a days work and get home at night. Better than a night in a hotel.
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Old 5th Sep 2016, 12:18
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The LBA-based HS748 (usually G-ARAY) operated a part of the Link City network. Latterly it was LBA-GLA-LBA-BRS-CWL-LBA, twice a day, Monday to Friday. Metropolitan assumed the route in 1984 and went under within about a year.

Dan-Air also brought their 737s through LBA, on w-patterns to the Med and Jersey. I don't know if they were used quite as intensively as the Monarch and Britannia examples.
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Old 5th Sep 2016, 15:52
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Dan-Air also brought their 737s through LBA, on w-patterns to the Med and Jersey. I don't know if they were used quite as intensively as the Monarch and Britannia examples.
Typically not. For those who bought new aircraft they found they could get 3 trips a day across much of the fleet reliably. For the likes of Dan-Air, where chairman Fred Newman was absolutely against the capital and depreciation costs of new aircraft, they needed some more slack to cater for more issues on turnround. Monarch had also been a secondhand operator until they got some of the first 757s and discovered a new world. Britannia, from their first 737s, normally bought new.

The attempt by Channel Airways in 1970 to buy 5 elderly Comet 4Bs which had been sat idle for a year when Olympic disposed of them, and run 5 sets of rotations for major tour operator Lyons Holidays from three or four separate bases around the country, was a fiasco which made the press most weekends during the summer high season.

AOG is one thing, but much of the delay can be caused by how you then handle it. Spares not in stock and having to be obtained from elsewhere, relevant engineers not on shift, or worse, not having adequate credit arrangements with the handling agent (particularly overseas) and thus everyone having to sit around while the funds were wired over, all would get chalked up as "technical delay". The big names like Britannia just had this sussed.
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Old 5th Sep 2016, 16:40
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Monarch introduced the 737-200 to its fleet in 1980, i.e. prior to retiring its 720s but before receiving its 757s. A small fleet of 1-11 500s was operated concurrently. I believe their 737s were their first brand-new machines. Needless to say, Dan-Air's 737-200s were used but probably a great deal newer than the Comets hitherto operated.
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Old 5th Sep 2016, 16:47
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"Just to add, the Britannia 737's used to swop around frequently (seemed like every other flight!) as well while operating 3 rotations a day - unlike Thomson 737's today (at NCL at least) which stay based for months."
One reason for the swopping was that at that time pilots were allowed to do Daily Inspections. This meant that Brit could send an aircraft to, say, Cardiff, without having any engineering support there. The pilots would do a Daily before the first rotation of the day. This could be done for, I think 5 days, then the aircraft would be rotated through an engineering base of a pre-planned W pattern.
Once it became necessary for the Daily to be done by an Engineer, there had to be engineering support at all outstations, and the regular W patterns ceased.
How I miss doing a watertrap drain at 6 in the morning, getting half a gallon of fuel up my sleeve, and smelling like a submariner for the rest of the day.
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Old 6th Sep 2016, 17:45
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This meant that Brit could send an aircraft to, say, Cardiff, without having any engineering support there. The pilots would do a Daily before the first rotation of the day.
I did wonder how the likes of Britannia, who had aircraft operating out of maybe a dozen bases around the country, some with just a single aircraft in summertime, managed for crew basing. Did they base crews at the minor points permanently, just for a season, or simply use Hotac for crew from Luton etc. There were likewise other operators who might pick up work for one based aircraft for a summer, then lose it the next year.
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