Re: thoughts on the A330

From:         Rick Hughes <>
Organization: iiNET Technologies
Date:         03 Sep 95 20:45:40 
References:   1 2
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In Article<airliners.1995.1285@ohare.Chicago.COM>, <> wrote:
> This is not a direct comment on his posting, but might be an interesting
> sidebar for some.  I was at a Pacific Rim airline talking to their fleet
> captains about an upgrade to the 747-400.  During a break I asked some of
> them how their newly ordered (but not delivered) A330s were going to fit
> into their fleet picture.  They were somewhat concerned because of the
> speed they were going to have to fly the airplanes.  According to them,
> the A330 and A340 are speed limited due to a buffet problem.  Basically,
> they told me that the wing had been a common design between the A330/340
> and not tuned for the placement of either two or four engines.  The speed
> limit they were quoting was .78M!
> In Pacific Rim operations, speed turns into altitude.  The ATC folks tend
> to put the faster airplanes high and relegate the slower airplanes to a
> lower (and less efficient altitudes).  This potential operational
> restriction must be taken into account when flight planning and translates
> directly into payload on takeoff limited flights.

Gooday Dave,

Good to catch up with you at last ... Data-linking conference in Paris April
'94 with Tony Maddern was the last I saw you!  Hope all is going well.

Back to the above ... since last seeing you, I've spent the better part of
this past 12 months flying the A340 for Cathay and am about to Cross Crew Qual
to the A330 this next month or so and will be flying both types concurrently
from then on.

I can state categorically that the above opinions expressed by your contacts
are way off the mark.  I flew back from Rome to Hong Kong only two days ago
doing M0.84 all the way in one of our A340s with a cost index of 250.  We had
Typhoon Kent approaching Hong Kong (about 200 kms out when we arrived) and
also had to make it back early morning for onward connections. Eurocontrol
gave us the usual headache with flow control through Greece (a 3 hour delay),
so we ended up taking a one hour longer flight time (on the plan) and taking
the extended route via Cyprus, Syria, Jordan, Saudi, UAE etc. Flight time
ended up at 12hrs 16 mins with an average TAS of 490 knots and we made it back
only 15 minutes later than schedule ... not bad considering what we were up
against! We normally cruise at CI 150 which gives a cruising Mach of roughly
M0.82 to M0.83, depending on headwind component/Weight etc. We rarely fly the
A340 below M0.82!

The aircraft does not suffer from the buffet problem you had described to you,
though I believe it did suffer from a small buffet problem during its initial
flight testing; subsequently solved prior to production commencing. It is
however, a supercritical wing designed to be flown in a very specific speed
range. If you try and push it up beyond M0.84, you will see a very large
increase in fuel flow, commensurate with the corresponding increase in drag
from flying at Mach numbers considerably above the wing design cruise mach

Much debate raged within Cathay regarding our A340s holding up our 747-400s
going to Europe on the same air route before we started flying them, but in
practice there have been few problems.

Reference Speed/Altitude ... this has not been a problem at all.  In fact, in
our experience, the A340 is nearly always a step (+4000 ft) above the -400 for
the same point on any ULH flight plan. On the short-haul routes, we routinely
get our levels flying between Japan and Hong Kong and the aircraft normally
climbs straight to FL390 out of Nagoya for the 4 hour hop to Hong Kong.

There is a lot of misinformation out there reference Airbus aircraft ... a lot
of it from Boeing Devotees.  That's fine ... we all love our aircraft and
let's face it; you guys make great airplanes.  But so too do Airbus!  I
personally had a few misgivings before my conversion to the type, but would
now say I have very few problems with the concepts utilised in the design, now
that I have a few clues as to how the system works.  The A330/340 combination
works ... it will provide Cathay with enormous savings over the next decade
and is generally well liked by passengers who take the time to visit the
flight deck and comment on it.  Until these guys actually get to fly the
aircraft and can comment factually, I think their opinions should be taken as
mere Crew Room talk ... nothing more.  And we ALL know how accurate most of
that turns out to be!!


Rick Hughes