Re: Q:747-400F vs. 747-200

Date:         01 Aug 97 04:04:14 
From: (C. Marin Faure)
Organization: Northwest Nexus Inc.
References:   1
Followups:    1
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In article <airliners.1997.1558@ohare.Chicago.COM>, Brian Wiklem
<> wrote:
> I noticed 747-400F freighters are priced at about $130-$140 million
> brand new.  And recently, companies like Lufthansa have said no
> way to such a price.

> Wouldn't it be far more cost effective to take an existing 747-200
> and strengthen the cargo hold, re-engine the plane with newer,
> fuel efficient engines (i.e. Rolls/Pratt/GE), and possibly add
> wing tip extensions?

The differences in between the 747-400 and earlier 747 models are quite
significant.  The two-man flight deck was not just a matter of getting rid
of the third seat and putting the flight engineer's controls and
instrumentation somewhere else.  The systems throughout the 747-400 are a
lot different than the earlier models.  Reconfigurng an older 747 to
747-400 specifications would mean an almost complete rebuild of the plane,
if for no other reason than to install all the new systems and BITE (built
in test equipment) that are required to make the 747-400 work.  The extra
fuel capacity of the -400 is critical if you want to take advantage of the
extremely long ranges the airplane is capable of: without that capability
there's not much point in going to the 747-400 at all.

At one point, companies (I believe Lockheed among them) were exploring the
idea of re-engining the 727 and converting it to a two-man glass flight
deck.  The re-engining was fairly straightforward I seem to recall, but
the project died when they began to realize what would be involved in
converting the plane and its systems to a two-man glass cockpit.  It would
be cheaper in the long run for an operator to simply replace their 727s
with a current-generation plane like a 757.

There are 747-400s that were built with the 747-200/300 wing.  These are
used in domestic service in Asia.  The intention is that they will operate
initially in a service that puts a lot of cycles on the plane but not that
many hours.  Then when the cycles get high, they will install the 747-400
wing extensions and winglets and whatever other upgrades are necessary and
operate them in long-haul international service, which puts a lot of hours
on the airframe but not that many cycles.  The theory is that by doing
this, the operators will maximize the use of the planes over their service
life.  However, these planes were built as 747-400s as far as the flight
deck and on-board systems are concerned.

C. Marin Faure
  author, Flying A Floatplane