Re: Airline decisions on aircraft purchases

Date:         16 Sep 99 16:42:41 
From:         "robert wright" <>
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>However, when I see stories such as Singapore being unhappy about the
>speed of its A340s, or that the fact that the A340 *may* not fly as high
>as the 777, it makes me wonder if airlines make aircraft choices with
>about as much hard information as what we see in these newsgroups ?

    I think Singapore was a very early customer, which means they may have
signed contracts and made selections before the airplane was tested, when NO
ONE knew what it's actual capabilities were.  All manufacturers build some
leeway into their guarantees, but I know Airbus missed at least the LRC
speed on the A340, and MacDac missed range on the MD-11.  My old boss at
Boeing said that some Boeing planes had missed a performance guarantee here
and there, too, but I never did get specifics from him.  (I would strongly
suspect early 747's.)

>When Singapore bought its 340s, is it conceivable  that it was not aware
>of the true characteristics of the A340 such as "efficient" and "max"
>cruising speeds, as well as information such as fuel costs when flying
>at max speed ? Would they not have real formulas to calculate operating
>costs for a flight depending on its load of pax and cargo and required

    Probably only predictions at the time.

>I also suspect that accountants get a bigger say than engineers and put

    I would agree with you even more vehemently that I already do, if such
were within the realm of human possibility....

>I also have a feeling that political aspects are also given heavy weight
>in the decisions.

    See above.

>Also, in the Singapore example, if the 340s did not perform as
>advertised, wouldn't Singapore get financially compensated for this ?
>Wouldn't such compensation make the accountants happy with the financial
>performance of the aircraft ?

    Maybe, but there was some mention of people complaining that they were
too slow and requesting other flights, which would certainly make the
accountants want to switch planes.  No manufacturer gives enough financial
compensation to make up for empty airplanes.  Also, it is entirely possible
that the A340 does meet all of its guarantees (the only one I know of in
which there is a question is the LRC Mach number), but turned out to be
unsatisfactory to a sufficient number of passengers that SIA doesn't want
them anymore.

    What we really need is for someone from SIA to write in and fill us in
on the actual details.  As arrogant as I am, even I don't claim to be able
to gleen the actual details of the situation from a few scattered statements
and rumors.