Re: ATR-72's and Airbuses

Date:         27 Dec 96 04:41:04 
From:         don@rata.vuw.ac.nz (Don Stokes)
Organization: Victoria University of Wellington
References:   1 2 3 4
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In article <airliners.1996.2972@ohare.chicago.com>,
Karl Swartz <kls@ohare.Chicago.COM> wrote:
>Competition doesn't necessarily produce a better product -- look at
>the DC-10, for example, which was built under fierce competion from
>the L-1011.  Despite that, the DC-10 is widely regarded as inferior
>to the L-1011 (not to mention the 747 and A300).

I haven't had a lot to do with the L-1011 -- none come here regularly. So
I'm curious as to what exactly makes the L-1011 better than the DC-10? It
seems to me that maybe Lockheed got a lot more of the details right, but
the L-1011 suffered some fairly fundamental problems.  One of those was
range -- the DC-10-30 came "out of the box" with nearly twice the range
of contemporary L-1011 models, and with optional extra tankage for even
greater range, made possible because the basic -30 airframe has more
lifting ablity than the L-1011.

When Lockheed belatedly came up with the longer range -500, it was only
achieved by cutting the number of seats, an unacceptable compromise for
many airlines, and it still was no competition in the range stakes with
an extended range DC-10-30.

>(Engineering over marketing also killed Lockheed.  Had they been
>willing to accept the technically inferior GE CF-6 engine in addition
>to the RB.211, United apparently would have bought the L-1011 and the
>DC-10 would have died.  Lockheed would still have had problems because
>of the RB.211's teething problems, but without the DC-10 to kick them
>while they were down, the L-1011 program wouldn't have died an early
>demise.  McDonnell Douglas might have gone on to produce what instead
>became the A300.)

Putting completely new engines on new airframes is something airliner
manufacturers ought to be more wary of.  The 747 had problems with new
engines not being up to spec by delivery (the first commercial service
was delayed because of engine problems), as did the L-1011, and the 777
with GE90s came horribly unstuck with the engines not being ready on time.

Bear in mind too that Boeing rejected the RB.211 for the 747 because they
didn't believe they would have it ready on time.  The RB.211 is a fine
engine, but it was over-ambitious at the time, and had a long, painful
and expensive development -- it actually killed RR, which was only
resurrected by government loans.  Boeing, and presumably Douglas, saw
that coming.  Lockheed probably should have as well.

(The RB.211 is a three-spool design, (I think) with two compressors
running at different speeds, whereas the other designs of the time were
two spool, one for the fan, the other the compressor.  There was also an
early intention to use composite fan blades, however, although lighter
than all-metal blades, they didn't make it through development.
Composite fan blades on large engines had to wait for the GE90.)

--
Don Stokes, Network Manager, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
don@vuw.ac.nz(work) don@zl2tnm.gen.nz(home) +64 4 495-5052 Fax+64 4 471-5386