Re: Confusion over 777 variants.

Date:         29 Nov 97 03:24:27 
From:         faurecm@halcyon.com (C. Marin Faure)
Organization: Northwest Nexus Inc.
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In article <airliners.1997.2758@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
"[non-spam]jfmezei"@videotron.ca wrote:

> I am not a Boeing customer, and if I were, I am sure that someone at
> Boeing would have sat down with me and explained all the numbering
> schemes for the 777 and the 737, both of which have spawned lots of new
> numbers in recent years.

The airlines have no problems with the airplane designations; they know
all of them by heart.

> But I got confused with the 777 right from the start. Seems to me that
> the "200" is wasted text since it is meaningless as there are so many
> 777-200 variants.

Right now there are only three 777s out there.  The 777-200 (original),
the 777-200IGW (increased gross weight version of the original), and the
777-300 (stretch version currently in flight test).  However, the numbers
that follow even an individual airplane model number would boggle the
mind; however the general public is rarely exposed to all the different
variants that come with each major model type.  Even the placement of the
galleys in a particular series of planes can add a number to the
designation, but you never see these numbers anywhere outside the
industry.

> If Boeing were interested in preventing confusion in the general public
> (or enthousiats) it would have stuck to a more logical naming scheme.

If the general public were buying the airplanes, I'm sure the numbering
schemes would be simplified :-).  One reason there are so many designation
numbers is because there are so many variables within each model.  With
thousands of drawings, millions of parts, and a large number of
modifications and improvements being made to the airplanes over the years,
it is imperative that there be no confusion between individual airplanes.
A modification that applies to one airline's 757s may not apply to another
airline's 757s even though they are all 757-200s.  This is why the large
variety of dash numbers after the basic model numbers.  I'm making this
number up, but you can have something like
757-200-156B-E4-735-18-6cw-341-0058.  That might be just one airplane, or
maybe ten.  Just what you trainspotters wanted, right?

> Sound to me like Boeing got its new super efficient CAD/CAM tools for
> the 777, and like a kid with a new LEGO set, is building as many
> variants as it can in the shortest amount of time :-) :-) In the past
> design time was long enough that one model had been out flying for years
> before the next one would come along. But now, I think that design times
> have been tremendously shortened and it gets harder to follow what
> products are actually out there.

This is because the market is changing faster than we or Airbus can keep
up with it.  An airline that needs a bunch of long-haul planes for routes
with a moderate passenger demand one year finds itself suddenly needing
high-density, medium haul planes the next year.  With competition making
it necessary to match airplanes to routes as closely as possible, the
airlines aren't willing to settle for a plane they can fly half empty when
the demand is low and full when the demand is high.  They want planes they
can fly full no matter what the demand.  So you get the
737-600/700/800/900 family and the A319/320/321 family and so on.  If you
want to go home with a headache each night after trying to decipher, let
alone predict, the market every day, work for an airframe manufacturer.

C. Marin Faure
  author, Flying A Floatplane