Re: Singapore Airlines The A340 vs 777 saga continues

From:         "Pardave Lehry" <>
Date:         Sun, 11 Jul 1999 15:46:53 GMT
Organization: Shore.Net/Eco Software, Inc; (
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> It's been reported that the aircraft is currently 6.5 metric tonnes
> overweight, which puts it about 400nm short of the range requirement.
> The problem may well be worse than that. The A340-500 has a new
> engine, the RR Trent 500, and industry experience is that new engines
> rarely make fuel guarantees 'out of the box'.
The aircraft may be overweight by 6.5 metric tonnes, but Airbus can no doubt
shave those off very easily and quickly.  As for engine reliability "out of
the box," it's true that they have fuel problems, but with today's modern
technology and modern construction techniques and materials, engines are
very very reliable and often do make their quota for fuel burn.  Yes, they
may have problems such as blades cracking (General Electric GE-90), but
Rolls Royce has learnt their lesson to trust the titanium blades for their
first stage fan after the saga that occured with the RB211 for the L1011.

> If Airbus cannot make the aircraft fly the mission it was bought for
> by the time of delivery, I suspect SQ will refuse to accept the
> aircraft. To say this would be damaging to Airbus is perhaps the
> understatement of the year!
Even if SIA were to refuse delivery, I'm sure there are other airlines out
there that would take those airplanes faster than Boeing's surplus of
cancelled orders from Asian carriers sitting in Phoenix.  Speaking of Asian
carriers, I'm just curious why they have cancelled their Boeing orders and
not their Airbus orders.  Korean Airlines is the only airline that has
cancelled all of their orders.

> SQ customers are apparently not all that happy with the A340 cabin.
> They want more headroom, and more space (cabin width). While Airbus
> likes to advertise there is no center seat (and there isn't one), it
> turns out to be largely an academic exercise in the Business class
> cabin. The middle seat in a 777 or 747 is only filled if the cabin is
> more than 80% full. Not a very common event.
The blame of headroom and more space in the cabin should not be placed on
Airbus.  When an airline orders an aircraft from Airbus or for that matter,
Boeing, they specify what the interior should be like.  Each airliner that
comes of the assembly line from Seattle and Toulouse are different because
each airline specifies a different configuration.  The companies offer
different configurations and if the correct configuration isn't offered, I'm
sure the companies would do whatever it takes to offer the correct
configuration.  I've travelled on economy class and business class in Air
Canada's A340's and there is a major difference.  The seating is wider in
business class than economy class.  There is also much less leg room in
economy (I'm 6' and it was tight).

> Airbus Aircraft are traditionally not 'high flyers'. This is also
> causing SQ a certain amount of pain. Flights to Europe generally
> depart in the late afternoon and early evening, and are at or very
> near MGTOW.  The trip goes out of over the Bay of Bengal, which often
> has nasty weather (thunderstorms) in the early evening. Very bluntly,
> at high weights, the 777 and the 747's can fly a lot higher, giving
> the crew more choices about how to avoid weather (and provide a better
> ride for the passengers).
The A340 has a maximum cruising altitude of 39,000 feet.  The Boeing 747 has
a cruising altitude of 37,000 feet.  Both aircraft have a maximum altitude
of 41,000 feet.  So whether the A340 will clear the bad weather or not is
cause for concern.  Why Airbus seemed to go with CFMI's CFM-56 engines for
the A340 is still unclear to me.  Those engines have a thrust rating of
something like 34,000 pounds, which is why it takes forever for the A340 to
climb to cruise altitude and then get to its destination.  It would be a
wise decision on behalf of Airbus to go with a much more powerful engine,
something like the PW4000 series, which is the same engine found on the

Pardave Lehry
AVSIM Reviewer
SATCO Controller 1
Westwind Airlines YVR Assistant Hub Manager
Aircraft Maintenance Engineer