Re: Fracturing the Pacific

Date:         27 Aug 97 03:57:54 
From:         m@bang.org
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Karl wrote:
> Hopefully we can agree that Fairbanks is viable.

It would be interesting to know how many days each year FAI and other
critical alternatives are unavailable.

There are a large number of airfields in northern Siberia with long runways
built by the Soviets for their Air Defense Force and fewer but with even
longer runways built for their Air Force. Unless a large number of alternates
exist for any point along each flight path, the routes will change daily in
the winter based on which airfields can be cleared of snow. I'm confident
that in recent years not enough runways have been clear on enough winter days
to permit ETOPS operations. But with airlines paying $1800 or so in hard
currency per flight for overflight rights, the Russians might be willing to
make enough military airfields available to permit economical ETOPS
operations. Even if the Russians do this, it remains easy to imagine days
when runways cannot be cleared and the flights must be cancelled or, more
likely, make a technical stop somewhere.

> Flying JFK-HKG via N78 E164 keeps the flight within 180 minutes of
> either Fairbanks or Magadan (at 757 engine-out speeds, with none of
> the other alternates mentioned above required) yet adds only 8 miles
> (0.099%) to the direct distance.

That's certainly a trivial increase, but what happens on those days when
Magadan is unavailable and winds are unfavorable?

I think that given the range of the B777-200IGW, JFK-HKG service would have
to be operated on a schedule that allowed enough time to make a fuel stop
either way before the plane needed to depart again. If a B777 departs HKG at
0730 it should arrive JFK at about 1100. If it needs to stop for fuel that
day, it wouldn't arrive JFK until perhaps 1300. With a 90 minute turn-around,
scheduled departure from JFK could be 1430. A nonstop arrival in HKG would
then be about 1930, or 2130 with a technical stop for fuel on days when it
would be necessary. If enough airfields in Russia become available, this
would probably work, leaving enough time for maintenance at HKG. I believe
there's enough traffic for CX and UA to each operate one daily flight. The
economics would depend on how often fuel stops were required. Of course, the
B777-200X would obviate the need for stops on the JFK-HKG route.

> JFK-SIN does not appear to need any deviation.

True on days that the alternates are available. I just doubt this would be
more than, say, 300 days per year, even if the Russian government allows
military bases to be used as alternates. Again, this is highly speculative.

JFK-SIN is long enough that the B777-200IGW just cannot fly it nonstop, and
an aircraft cannot hold the route captive. The JFK-SIN flight would need to
depart prior to the arrival of the SIN-JFK flight in order to have reasonable
arrival and departure times at SIN. UA could perhaps use the aircraft for a
SIN-JFK-LHR-JFK-SIN rotation departing SIN early in the morning and returning
in the evening two days later (three aircraft needed to maintain daily
flights). A B777-200X may seem like overkill for JFK-LHR, but it could carry
plenty of cargo, which is often more profitable than pax. Singapore Airlines,
on the other hand, could RON at JFK and depart early in the morning with a
mid-afternoon arrival in SIN. A mid-day departure from SIN would arrive JFK
in the evening. Singapore could fit a rotation like HKG-SIN-JFK-SIN-HKG, for
example. I can't imagine there is enough JFK-SIN traffic for two daily
flights though. Perhaps each carrier could profitably fly 2x week.

> 777s flying SFO-LHR have occasionally departed on 1R, which is only
> 8,901 feet long.  BRW-FAI is only 503 miles, so while the 6,500 foot
> runway isn't very generous, I don't think it would be that big of a
> problem given the modest range requirement.

Good point. It might or might not be possible to get an A330 or B777 out of
BRW with the pax onboard.

M Carling
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