Yet another aviation thread.

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October 22nd, 2015 at 6:44:02 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9998
Have narrow-body commercial jets reached "peak design"?

Neither Boeing nor Airbus have released a new narrow body design in decades. They keep updating their workhorse and that's it. Boeing retired the 727, 757 and the DC-9/MD80-90/B717, but has kept updating the 737. Airbus only has the A-320 family. In the meantime new wide body designs are rife: 777 and 787, plus the A-380 and A-350, were all developed in the past two decades.

There have been some new narrow body models in the regional jet market. And Bombardier in Canada has been developing a larger narrow body to compete with the A-320 and B737, though now this looks to be in trouble.

IMO some creative solutions are needed. While the airlines ultimately determine how planes are configured, most important as regards passenger density, there is something the manufacturers can do to push improvements along past engines and avionics.

How about a twin aisle narrow body? Offer a 2-2-2 configuration, and you instantly solve two problems: 1) the cabin will be and feel more spacious (even if the seats are not) and 2) you get rid of the middle seat for good (no one likes the middle seat). Not to mention goodies like easier aisle access for 2/3 of the passengers, and very likely faster boarding and de-boarding. This would require a slightly wider fuselage, which would increase weight, therefore composites should be sued extensively.

Speaking of composites, how about a major re-design of the 737/A320 basic form with composites, a la 787? Don't you think passengers on shorter flights would appreciate the higher air pressure and humidity?
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
October 22nd, 2015 at 7:57:47 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 648
Posts: 7419
Quote: Nareed
Neither Boeing nor Airbus have released a new narrow body design in decades. They keep updating their workhorse and that's it. Boeing has kept updating the 737. Airbus only has the A-320 family.


Boeing did not plan to build the 737 Max. They were simply threatened too many times. The most dramatic threat by Southwest was they would replace their entire fleet by A320neo and A321neo.

The A320neo is due to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with 2017 for the 737 MAX.

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said "By 2030 we will have a new airplane," he said, adding there's "a good chance it will be a composite airplane."
"It will be slightly bigger, there will be new engines. The current look of the planes (shape) won’t change dramatically," McNerney said.

Chinese planemaker COMAC is developing the C919 jet to compete with the 737 and the Airbus (AIR.PA) A320. The jet has been delayed until end-2015. Other competitors include Russia’s MS-21 and the slightly smaller Bombardier CSeries from Canada.

McNerney said an all-new 737 MAX replacement was needed "because the new entrants would do something like MAX."
October 22nd, 2015 at 8:10:15 AM permalink
Dalex64
Member since: Mar 8, 2014
Threads: 2
Posts: 1521
I don't think you'll see anyone redesign a plane for greater comfort anymore. They have become the inter-city busses of the sky.

a 737 has a 3x3 seating, so basically it is 7 seats wide. a 2x2x2 would be 8 seats wide, but not carry any more people. So, the small/medium-widebody would only be less efficient, trading that off for comfort, or perception of comfort by eliminating the middle seats.

For trading efficiency for comfort, I think they'd be better off reducing the number of rows, thereby increasing legroom. going to a 3x2 configuration with wider seats would probably cost them too much in efficiency.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan
October 22nd, 2015 at 10:12:20 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 648
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Quote: Dalex64
For trading efficiency for comfort, I think they'd be better off reducing the number of rows, thereby increasing legroom. going to a 3x2 configuration with wider seats would probably cost them too much in efficiency.


That more or less is the definition of "premium economy" where they keep the same seat width, but give you the pitch (spacing) that used to be commonplace in the early 1980's. It was at one time considered cruel to give less than 32' PITCH and now it's an option you must pay for.

Airlines are showing no interest in changing the 3-3 configuration for narrowbodies, and the 3-4-3 has become commonplace where once the 3-3-3 was the norm. The old B767 with 2-3-2 is a thing of the past.

If anything, the 11 seat row is being touted as the wave of the future.
October 22nd, 2015 at 12:44:35 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9998
Quote: Dalex64
I don't think you'll see anyone redesign a plane for greater comfort anymore.


I dare hope.

Boeing did some work on the ambiance and overhead bins with the "sky interiors" concept on the 787 and the latest new 737.

Quote:
They have become the inter-city busses of the sky.


All too true.

Quote:
a 737 has a 3x3 seating, so basically it is 7 seats wide. a 2x2x2 would be 8 seats wide, but not carry any more people. So, the small/medium-widebody would only be less efficient, trading that off for comfort, or perception of comfort by eliminating the middle seats.


The average seat is between 17" and 18". I think the aisle can be narrower than that, but obviously not by much. Therefore you're entirely right but I reserve the right to b***h about it anyway ;)

Quote:
For trading efficiency for comfort, I think they'd be better off reducing the number of rows, thereby increasing legroom.


That's an airline choice and not a manufacturer one. The manufacturer designs the cabin with wide margins as to how many passengers a plane can handle. An A320, for instance could be built with one seat in the cabin (which naturally no one would do), up to I think 180 seats or so. More realistically, an all-economy A320 will range from 150 passengers in 25 rows (Interjet) to 180 passengers in 30 rows (Viva Aerobus). A two-class configuration will vary, naturally.

I did think about a double-deck narrow body, but it's ridiculous. You'd fit 300-360 passengers in it, which you can do already in a number of wide bodies, so why bother with a whole new type?
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
October 22nd, 2015 at 1:03:46 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9998
Quote: Pacomartin
Boeing did not plan to build the 737 Max. They were simply threatened too many times. The most dramatic threat by Southwest was they would replace their entire fleet by A320neo and A321neo.


Both companies, but especially Boeing, went all too wide-body happy for the past 20 years or so. The A320 debuted in the mid-80s, if memory serves. At that time Boeing was playing with the 7J7, and a bit later with the DC-9/MD-80/90 inherited in the merger with McDonell Douglas. But since then all their new releases were wide bodies (767, 777 and 787), and a larger narrow body (757). I'm not counting new variants of existing planes.

Now, clearly they've been quite successful. The Dreamliner is as much a critical success as a plane company can get (that is, sales are not as good as the plane's good press, battery fires and all).
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
October 22nd, 2015 at 1:07:58 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9998
Quote: Pacomartin
Airlines are showing no interest in changing the 3-3 configuration for narrowbodies, and the 3-4-3 has become commonplace where once the 3-3-3 was the norm. The old B767 with 2-3-2 is a thing of the past.

If anything, the 11 seat row is being touted as the wave of the future.


As I said, there's only so much the manufacturers can do.

The "sky interiors" are very nice and pleasant, but they'll pale once you find yourself in a 4-3 (soon to be 4-4) 737-900 with 28" pitch and a carry-on fee. (though that's more likely to happen in the A320, as it has a slightly wider fuselage). Combine this with the increasing average size of airline passengers, and you may see about 1/4 of the flying public buying two tickets merely so they'll be able to sit down.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
October 22nd, 2015 at 1:23:29 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 648
Posts: 7419
Quote: Nareed

That's an airline choice and not a manufacturer one.


Sort of! There are three sizes of exit doors
A: 6' by 3' 6"
B: 6' by 2' 8"
C: 4' by 2' 6"
Depending on what size doors you put in the plane, that determines the number of passengers you can carry. You can mix door types in different places. Obviously the bigger doors are heavier.

There is no FAA limit on seat pitch. There is simply a limit on total number of seats so that you can evacuate given the door sizes. The A320 has a limit of 180 seats based on doors. Not because 30 rows of 6 seats is the maximum for comfort.

For instance if you eliminate the exits over the wings, then an A320 can have only 145 passengers.

There is a path for approval of 195 seats in the current A320, which means you will have pitch as low as 27 inches. Perfect for legless children.

Quote: Nareed

I did think about a double-deck narrow body, but it's ridiculous. You'd fit 300-360 passengers in it, which you can do already in a number of wide bodies, so why bother with a whole new type?


It was considered in the 1960's when larger planes were first being developed. The motivation was a better aerodynamic shape. But it was rejected as being too difficult to evacuate and incompatible with two 8 foot pallets for the freight version. As the 747 and Concorde were being developed at the same time, the natural assumption would be that the 747s were going to all be converted to freight carriers when the passenger planes all went supersonic.
October 22nd, 2015 at 3:16:03 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9998
Quote: Pacomartin
There is a path for approval of 195 seats in the current A320, which means you will have pitch as low as 27 inches.


I wonder how much will passengers put up with.

Many aviation blogs make it a point that people care mostly about low fares, ergo the reduced pitch and fees for everything other than a place on the plane and breathable air. Secondly people care most about frequencies, ergo the domination of the B737/A320 and regional jets.

But is there a limit?

If fares drop another 10% but you have to stand the whole way? If there are N flights to all destinations, but delays means you can't plan on an arrival time? Will you pay a fee for a seat as opposed to standing room? How about a fee to use the lavatory? A fee to sit down at the waiting area at the gate?

I wish I could say I'm exaggerating, but several of the ultra-low cost airlines do charge fees for niceties such as printing a boarding pass at the airport counter, or for booking on their own website (that is beyond the pale).


Quote:
As the 747 and Concorde were being developed at the same time, the natural assumption would be that the 747s were going to all be converted to freight carriers when the passenger planes all went supersonic.


I don't know. absent the oil shocks of the 70s (I know), or the noise regulations in the US (I KNOW), things might have been different. transatlantic flights are all well and good, but imagine supersonic transcontinental travel from NYC, Boston, Washington and Miami to LA, San Francisco, Seattle and Vegas.

As bad predictions go, I'd rather they be overly optimistic (where's my flying car??)
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
October 22nd, 2015 at 6:24:56 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 648
Posts: 7419
Quote: Nareed
I don't know. absent the oil shocks of the 70s (I know), or the noise regulations in the US (I KNOW), things might have been different. transatlantic flights are all well and good, but imagine supersonic transcontinental travel from NYC, Boston, Washington and Miami to LA, San Francisco, Seattle and Vegas.
As bad predictions go, I'd rather they be overly optimistic (where's my flying car??)


Well the 747 received it's designation in 1965, so people were still pretty optimistic that supersonic flight was going to cover intercontinental as well as transAtlantic travel. The interior cabin width was 20' so it could easily handle two stacks of pallets. I think that they figured by 1980 at the latest, supersonic passenger travel would be widely available (if not the dominant mode of travel).

The 767 had first flight on September 26, 1981 (cabin width 16') and the 757 had it's first flight on February 19, 1982 (cabin width 11.6'). The "Advanced Supersonic Transport" was nearly dead and air travel was deregulated. The 2-3-2 seating on the 767 was only one more per row than the 3-3 seating on the 757. The designers were not expecting supersonic travel to replace these aircraft and turn them into freight planes.

Quote: Nareed
I wonder how much will passengers put up with.
Many aviation blogs make it a point that people care mostly about low fares, ergo the reduced pitch and fees for everything other than a place on the plane and breathable air. Secondly people care most about frequencies, ergo the domination of the B737/A320 and regional jets.


Two airports near me are 106 km apart (about an hour drive). Newark, NJ is an overcrowded airport with high prices because it is dominated by United Airlines. Allentown airport is one of the most underutilized airports in the country. Because 106 km is not that great of a distance and easily a million people live between the two airports, it is often suggested that Allentown would make a good reliever airport (especially if years of renovations were done on Newark).

Allentown has one daily flight to Orlando on off price airline Allegiant, which flies to a little used former military airport called Sanford (domestic flights). Sanford still has car rental places. Allegiant uses an old MD-80 with 166 seats. Newark has roughly 14 flights a day to Orlando terminating at the main Orlando airport.

134 average passengers per day each way to Orlando from ABE (Allentown) to Sanford airport on Allegiant Airlines
1937 passengers per day each way to Orlando from EWR (Newark ) to McCoy airport on United and Jet Blue Airlines

As Orlando with Disney World is a frequent family destination, you would think people would be very price sensitive. I asked people who live within 25 miles of Newark what kind of a price break would it take to make them drive to ABE flight instead of a Newark flight.

You would not expect most people to do the drive for $15 a ticket (times 4 family members) as it wouldn't be worth the bother. I was surprised that almost nobody would drive an hour to save as much as 33% of the ticket prices for each family member. Their biggest concern was the one flight per day. Even though flights are very seldom cancelled (they are usually late). Secondary concerns were the drive time, the budget airline, flying to a smaller airport in Orlando, etc.

It makes me wonder how much people really care about getting the rock bottom price.
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