Airline decisions on aircraft purchases

Date:         27 Aug 99 03:08:31 
From:         JF Mezei <jfmezei.spamnot@videotron.ca>
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Over the time I have participated in many never-ending Airbus vs Boeing
debates in and in other news: forums. What I have realised is that there
is a lack of hard factual information and this results in a lot of
speculation and rumours and statements based on incomplete information.
This may be undesirable but inevitable in newsgroups.

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 ?

In the heydays of the mini-computers, I saw how 2 manufacturers competed
for a sale by smearing the other manufacturer with all sorts of stories,
most of which were not true. I found both sides lacking any real
understanding of the other side's products.

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
range?

I suspect that an airline will get a bunch of its engineers to learn
about each potential plane.  How much do these engineers get to know
about the plane ? Would Singapore engineers have known about the true
speed of the A340 and any range/cost penalty if they flew it faster ?

I also suspect that accountants get a bigger say than engineers and put
little weight on the engineering aspects and a lot more weight on
financing/acquisition costs, delivery schedules, availability of a plane
that fits their capacity needs and perhaps maintance/commonality issues.

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

So my question is:
Considering the information that is publicly available on the net from
both manufacturers, how much more performance/technical information do
airlines get when they consider a purchase ?

Doe airlines get to calculate real numbers on performance/costs, or do
they just get "ballpark" numbers from the manufacturer (ex: " our
aircraft costs 1.2% less to operate than our competitor") and beleive
those numbers ?

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 ?