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#4389855 - 04/26/17 08:13 PM Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but..
PimTac Online   content


Registered: 03/04/17
Posts: 4213
Loc: Soviet State of Washington
I thought I would pick the brains of the experts here. The Airbus 343-300. I had the experience of riding on these a few times across the Pacific. Nice for couples with the two seat window aisle. The only downside? They were horribly slow.

I had a few occasions flying from Manila to San Francisco on these. They added 2.5 hours at least to the flight which was long enough. I would always groan if I saw one parked at our gate instead of a 744 or a 777.

Was it purely the engines or some other factors that slowed this bird down?

I'm happy now riding the 787 across. Much faster.


Edited by PimTac (04/26/17 08:13 PM)
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#4389879 - 04/26/17 08:33 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
GravelRoad Offline


Registered: 05/30/15
Posts: 161
Loc: Virginia
Maybe that's why it's called a bus? laugh

I have no idea.
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#4389902 - 04/26/17 08:58 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
edwardh1 Offline


Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Coastal South Carolina
I thought airbus went big plane but slower, and Boeing bet on small and fast? re design?
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#4389906 - 04/26/17 09:01 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
Reddy45 Offline


Registered: 08/15/08
Posts: 2962
Loc: USA
I wish the 2/4/2 seating arrangement was more common in these long haul planes. Always seems awkward to have 3 by the window.

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#4389907 - 04/26/17 09:01 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
SVTCobra Offline


Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 701
Loc: Battle Creek, MI
I'm sure fuel efficiency has a large factor. I remember seeing a chart in an engineering class that fuel economy was not inversely linear to speed. IIRC between 550 to 750 mph the fuel economy took a huge decrease.

So my money is on that flying the plane slower gains them a significant increase in fuel economy.
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#4389909 - 04/26/17 09:05 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: edwardh1]
A310 Offline


Registered: 04/16/15
Posts: 331
Loc: Kelowna, BC, Canada
A340-300 cruises around .79 -.81 depending on the operators cost index. The 747,777,787 cruises and .85-.87 again depending on the operators cost index. Airbus has addressed this with the A350 and increasing the cruise to .85-.87.:)

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#4389912 - 04/26/17 09:11 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: SVTCobra]
4WD Offline


Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 6351
Loc: Texas
I thought it is a fuel pig and it helped make the B777 very popular... I used to fly on SQ37 when SIN tried to make money with 100 business class seats on an A345 ... it was nice - but they pulled it down ...

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#4389991 - 04/26/17 11:05 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
DeepFriar Offline


Registered: 10/31/13
Posts: 1367
Loc: Georgia
If you have the ability to make your own reservations get access to OAG Flight Guides and plan your flights around the aircraft types of your choice. I did it for almost twenty years and was usually able to get what I wanted. It takes careful work to insure you still get value for money but it can be done. I was fortunate enough to be authorized Business Class for flights of over eight hours so prices between flights did not vary as much as coach would have so YMMV.

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#4390096 - 04/27/17 06:41 AM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
Astro14 Offline


Registered: 10/10/10
Posts: 8525
Loc: Virginia Beach
Let me start out by saying that I've flown over 800,000 miles as a paying passenger on United Airlines alone. I was a United 1K, and Delta Platinum Medallion, as I was flying all over the world (from Hawaii to the Middle East) while I was on Active Duty. You guys know I'm a pilot, but I've got a lot more customer experience than most...

So, the 340, from a customer perspective. I've flown on British Midlands and Lufthansa A340s. I found the seat pitch intolerably tight. Worse than anything I've ever been on. This was mitigated on BMI because I was rebooked on them while and they gave me an empty pair of seats by the window. On Lufthansa, the Flight Attendants were great, but man, was the seat tight...

The A340 is slow, and underpowered. By deciding to go with 4 engines, those engines are small. Consider: because the airplane has to be able to get airborne on 75% power (engine failure on takeoff requirement), when all 4 are running, it's got 33% more power than the minimum. A twin, like the 777, has to be able to get airborne on 50% power (engine failure on takeoff), so, when both are running, it's got 100% more power than the minimum. Make sense?

We hate getting stuck behind them in a climb or on a crossing. They're dogs... And the airline market has spoken: they're not selling. Let me add: an engine overhaul is several million. They don't very much by size. So, 4 engine airplanes have a much higher in service/maintenance cost than 2 engine airplanes. That is also killing the 340.

Now the A330, with the new engines (NEO) is a decent airplane, and that is selling. They both use the same fuselage. So, the 2/4/2 seating configuration, while really nice, is a function of fuselage width, and the A330/340 series of airplanes is a lot smaller than the 777. You need to put 10 seats abeam in a 777 for it to have enough seats to make money. It's that simple. The 777 simply blows the A330/340 series aircraft away on cost, performance, and capacity.

By the way, the A380, the super jumbo, has a 3/4/3 abreast seat in EVERY airplane. No getting around it: that's how you have to configure economy on an airplane with that fuselage width.


Edited by Astro14 (04/27/17 06:44 AM)
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#4390114 - 04/27/17 07:09 AM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: edwardh1]
Astro14 Offline


Registered: 10/10/10
Posts: 8525
Loc: Virginia Beach
Originally Posted By: edwardh1
I thought airbus went big plane but slower, and Boeing bet on small and fast? re design?


This is a separate issue from the 340 discussion and really highlights the A380 vs. 787 decision.

About 20 years ago, Boeing did a study that looked into the future of air travel. Boeing concluded that the future would have more point-point service as the hubs reached capacity. It was their contention that a smaller, longer range airplane, about 250 passengers, could connect major hubs and smaller, medium size markets. Denver-Tokyo for example. Boeing began design work on an airplane called the "Sonic Cruiser" that was intended to cruise at .95 IMN. Much faster than today's airplanes, and that was intended to cut the flight time down on long, medium size routes.

But fuel shocks, financial pressures, bankruptcy, all in the early 2000's had the airlines clamoring for efficiency, not speed. Boeing reconsidered and began design work on the "7E7"...E for efficiency. Composite structure, new auxiliary systems architecture, aerodynamic improvements, all to cut down on fuel burn, beating even the 777, which was, at the time, the most efficient airliner built. When the design was finalized, the 787 was born.

During that time, Airbus thought that the world really needed an even larger airplane than the 747 to connect the hubs. Designed to operate at a much lower cost per seat-mile than the 747, and to compete with the 777 for efficiency. As air travel increased, Airbus reckoned, airlines would need to move more passengers with the same number of slots at slot-restricted airports like Paris, London, Hong-Kong, JFK. It would have longer range than previous airplanes so that cities like Sydney could be served. The double decker, super jumbo A-380 was born.

But the 380, while it cruised at reasonable speed, and could go very far, wasn't bought up by the major carriers. FedEx and UPS canceled their orders. Air France (which practically HAD to buy it) isn't happy with the revenue performance. Lufthansa isn't making money with it. QANTAS is turning theirs back in when the lease is done. The super jumbo never met design goals on fuel efficiency, it has always over-burned on fuel, despite some engine tweaks. And airlines haven't had the bookings to justify moving 600 people at once between hubs. Because of its enormous ground footprint, only a few airports in the world can handle it, and those had to spend billions to increase taxiway size, re-space parking, reinforce concrete ramp areas to handle the weight.

If it weren't for the Middle East 3, the airplane would've been a sales disaster. As it is, Airbus likely won't make the 250 sold that they needed to break even on the R&D cost.

Boeing called it correctly. Here's an example: United flies the 787 from SFO to Chengdu, China. What? Why, you say? Chengdu, in addition to being a provincial capital, is the home of Foxcon - maker of Apple's products. There's a strong connection between Silicon Valley and Chengdu. Enough to justify a flight nearly every day, connecting those two cities.

The 787 was built for just that route. 220 passengers in a fast, fuel-efficient airplane with the range to do it. Every other competitor on the SFO-Chengdu route connects passengers through a major hub. Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bejing. That adds several hours to each trip, because the airplane doesn't fly direct, has to slow down, and land, and then you deplane, go through customs, re-board, etc. So, going direct, saving several hours, avoiding air traffic control issues that happen at every hub saves time, saves fuel, and allows a more competitive product than that traditional hub-spoke model.

There are dozens of city pairs that United alone serves in this manner. DEN-NRT for example. Out of EWR, we serve a dozen European cities directly, that other airlines serve only through hubs. GLA, EDI, and others.

Boeing was right: the future of air travel is fractionalization: direct service to mid-size cities. The perfect airplane for that is mid-size, ultra long range, fuel efficient and reasonably fast.

The 787.
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#4390126 - 04/27/17 07:25 AM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
madRiver Offline


Registered: 07/11/15
Posts: 3531
Loc: New England
Astro the systems analysis you stated is incredibly interesting to me in figuring the proper plane and most efficient model getting from a to b and translating to a business model.

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#4390129 - 04/27/17 07:28 AM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: Astro14]
Oldmoparguy1 Offline


Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 5612
Loc: Charlotte, NC
Thanks, Astro14. It is so great having someone with your knowledge and experience. Have you considered what you will do when you retire? (Silly me, of course you have). There must be many options for you in aviation.

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#4390234 - 04/27/17 09:48 AM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
PimTac Online   content


Registered: 03/04/17
Posts: 4213
Loc: Soviet State of Washington
Thanks Astro for all of that. You mentioned hating being behind the 340 on a climb. As a passenger it was obviously slow. While most of time when taking off from the 28s at SFO, you would be airborne around the intersection. The 340 would cruise on past and run another 10 seconds before lifting off. If we had the port side window vantage we got some nice views of San Francisco.

I'm spoiled on the 787. It's very fast. SEA to NRT in under ten hours sometimes. As for seat pitch, that 340 was tight but had the old style recliner seats. We made due. Now flying ANA almost exclusive because their scheduling is nice, and their pitch allows me to stretch out which makes up for the reclining slouch hybrid seat they have. Whoever designed the slouch seats should be forced to sit in one for eternity. Most airlines have them now. The only thing worse is United's 5 across in the middle aisle. Having been in that spot a couple of times with people climbing on top of me while I was sleeping to get into the overheads.

Such is life, traveling. It's always an adventure.
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#4390301 - 04/27/17 11:02 AM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
Astro14 Offline


Registered: 10/10/10
Posts: 8525
Loc: Virginia Beach
Thanks guys.

Aviation is inherently complex, but I try to make my posts "readable"...it's way too easy for those of us in Aviation to slip into technical vernacular that completely obfuscates the answer to those unfamiliar with it....

As far as retirement? Sure, I've thought about it. My wife and I have a financial plan. Personally, I plan to spend time with her, tinker with cars, spend time in my wood shop (to be built), build an airplane (RV-8) and travel. With her, of course.

But while a plan allows you to structure your actions, it is often a point from which you deviate as conditions change...

Cheers,
Astro



Edited by Astro14 (04/27/17 11:03 AM)
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#4390614 - 04/27/17 06:25 PM Re: Airbus 340-300. Nice plane to be a passenger but.. [Re: PimTac]
KD0AXS Offline


Registered: 11/13/12
Posts: 2440
Loc: Nowthen, MN
Here's a great video on what Astro explained above with large aircraft like the A380 vs smaller aircraft like the 787. They have a bunch of other great aviation related videos too.



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