ETOPS in action: Perth – Mauritius

I thought a recent flight from Perth to Mauritius provided a great basis to highlight the impact of ETOPS restrictions on airline operations in the Southern Hemisphere.

There is no trans-polar or oceanic route in the Northern Hemisphere that requires more than ETOPS 240 approval (four hours from flying time from a suitable airfield), and more than 90% of routes require no more than ETOPS 180.

ETOPS speed schedules are designed assuming a MTOW at departure with highest gross weight and enroute weather conditions at critical points enroute determining diversion speed and endurance. Speeds vary by operator, and other factors including carriage of additional passenger oxygen allowing operations at an intermediate level above FL140 are also taken into account.

Down south ETOPS restrictions have arguably a much greater operational impact as this Perth – Mauritius sector highlights.

Air Mauritius’ previous A340 operation to Australia tracked along a flight path relatively close to the great circle routing (see map below). Now operated by its A330-200 fleet – approved for ETOPS 180 (for arguments sake roughly 1,000nm) – the aircraft must track significantly to the north of the great circle route. Flying north-west after departing Perth to remain within diversion flying time of Learmonth, the Cocos Islands and then Diego Garcia, before tracking to the south-west for Mauritius.

The result is a longer flight time – the previous 8:30 minute block time westbound, is now an 8:30 minute flight time – approximately 45 minutes to one hour longer airborne.

The associated impact on flight economics is substantial as Virgin Australia learnt the hard way in its brief foray into Boeing 777-300ER operations between Melbourne and Johannesburg. To remain with ETOPS 180 restrictions the 777 operated a more northerly, inefficient routing – maps of westbound and eastbound flights – resulting in a flight time 1:15 longer than Qantas’ 14 hour Sydney – Johannesburg service.

The lightest grey shade on the map indicates ETOPS 180 limits. If Air Mauritius were to gain approval for ETOPS 207 or even 240 it would allow a more efficient southerly routing. But would you really be comfortable knowing you are that far from land on the off chance your Royce stops Rolling?

 

 

 

The weekly rollerboard 19 January: A350 special

The A350XWB flight test campaign continues in earnest, and with more than 850 flight hours now logged it’s time I wrote an update. I was following the campaign and the CSeries more closely in the initial stages, but the number of great resources available online meant I took a bit of back seat.

Flexible limits

The static test frame MSN5000 has now successfully completed ultimate wing load testing reaching a five metre deflection the wing, subjecting the wing to loads to 1.5 times greater than expected in service life. Strains were measured by 10,000 measurement channels which correlate load information against structural design models.

The ultimate load is the beyond which the wing is expected to fail, and is calculated at 2.5 times the maximum expected G load. As the Airbus Fly By Wire system limits G loads to +2.5G or +3.5G in a reversion to Direct Law, the ultimate load could be higher than 7.5G. Continue reading “The weekly rollerboard 19 January: A350 special” »

The oryx’s new home.

Delays in the opening of Doha’s critically important new Hamad International Airport (HIA) are almost as farcical as those of Berlin’s new Brandenburg International Airport, but the transition to full operations is now in its home stretch and we have a great preview of the stunning new terminal below.

According to Qatar transport minister Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti a soft opening trial will begin this month from the chic new terminal involving ten carriers - Air Arabia, Air India Express, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Flydubai, Iran Air, Nepal Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, RAK Airways, Syrian Air, and Yemen Airways.

Qatar Airways is now expected to transition its operations into its new home on April 1.

Doha International Airport is cripplingly overcapacity. Designed for an annual throughput of 12 million passengers a year, in 2013 the airport handled approximately 25 million people with 75% handled by Qatar Airways. After Dubai, it is now the second largest Middle East hub, and is now in the top 25 airports in the world measured by international passenger traffic.

Continue reading “The oryx’s new home.” »

Boeing’s 777-9X is almost go as Lufthansa commits to order for 34.

Lufthansa has become a launch customer for the yet to be launched next generation Boeing 777X project ordering 34 777-9Xs in addition to 25 Airbus A350-900s, with options and purchase rights for an additional 60 aircraft – 30 each of the 777-9X and A350-900.

The 777-9X will be powered by the General Electric GE9X and feature a new advanced composite wing, which at 71 metres will be the longest aircraft wing Boeing has produced. The result? An estimated 20 per cent better fuel efficiency and a 15% reduction in operating costs over the 777-300ER resulting in the lowest seat kilometre costs in the industry.

Continue reading “Boeing’s 777-9X is almost go as Lufthansa commits to order for 34.” »

Results day 1: Air New Zealand, Qantas and REX

Here’s a brief summary of yesterday’s annual results releases:

Air New Zealand

The day started with the flag carrier carrier at the very end of the world announcing it’s best annual result for five years with a underlying pre-tax profit of NZ$256 million, a statutory profit of NZ$183 million a 156 per cent increase on FY2011/12. This was on a slight three per cent increase in revenue to NZ$4.618 billion.

This strong result was supported by ANZ’s strongest load factor results in five years of 83.6 per cent. This was an increase of .8% over last year and came even as the airline grew Available Seat Kilometre (ASK) capacity by 1.7 per cent across its network.

Continue reading “Results day 1: Air New Zealand, Qantas and REX” »

British Airways: “Down under’s not over”

There’s a great modernity about British Airways’ simple but stylish Australian newspaper advertisement. Taking a subtle, cheeky swipe at Qantas following the ending of the Joint-Service Agreement in favour of Emirates, British Airways is keeping calm and carrying on.

BA will upgrade all its Australian services to new B777-300ER aircraft from March 30, 2012. Timed to match the commencement of the Qantas Emirates partnership, the introduction of the aircraft with upgraded long-haul product, and BA’s shift of Australian services from London Heathrow’s T3 to its T5 hub marks another competitive upgrade in the fierce Australian international market.

The move is part of BA’s renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region. BA will commence five weekly services to Seoul from next month, and three weekly services to Chengdu from September 2013. In addition, BA is likely to recommence schedules to Kuala Lumpur and Taipei, markets the carrier exited in 2001, as well as new services to additional cities in mainland China.

British Airways served Taipei from London and Hong Kong as British Asia Airways (英亚航空) until 2001. British Asia Airways was incorporated to overcome a now overturned Chinese Central Government policy prohibiting national carriers serving mainland China from serving Taiwan. Image: Daryl Chapman.

There is also nothing delicate about British Airways’ new oneworld push. For many years oneworld has been quiescent, foundering without a meticulous leader as Star Alliance has in Lufthansa. But the signs are this has changed, limited by expansion options at London Heathrow, British Airways and its parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) are making an active effort to engage and mold oneworld into an entity that supports BA’s sustainable growth and underlying business goals.

British Airways has already formed a comprehensive JV partnership with oneworld member and long-time Qantas partner Japan Airlines, and invited Qatar Airways to join oneworld in 2013/14. Could BA’s Asian focus see the airline engage Malaysia Airlines in place of Qantas to expand in South-East Asia?

A British Airways led quadruple entente would secure a network between Australia and Asia to Europe covering all major traffic paths via Northern and South-East Asia and through the Middle East. Image: GCMapper and Carry-ON.

Malaysia Airlines has much to offer BA, with a South-East Asian network, services to every major Australian city, and code sharing agreements with Japan Airlines, as well as oneworld members-to-be Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines already in place. To leverage this through an alliance or a comprehensive JV between the three carriers opens up incredible network and traffic flow options as the map shows. The grouping would be well placed to gain a formidable position in the growing high yield markets driven by Asia’s growing middle class, and provide substantial traffic feed into BA’s long haul network in Asia, and connections to BA short haul services across Europe.

oneworld is on the brink of change, and British Airways is now firmly at the helm. Tally ho.

Will Singapore’s next generation of cabin products re-establish an industry benchmark?

Oh the delicious drama of the airline industry. It puts the Bold and the Beautiful to shame with its endless alliances and divorces, avant-garde product design, cheap gauche relatives and a whole lot of money.

Today’s twist? Singapore Airlines has announced it has engaged the BMW Group subsidiary DesignworksUSA, and UK and Singapore-based James Park Associates (JPA), to develop the next generation of in-flight cabin products that will be rolled out from the second half of 2013.

Singapore Airlines has always been known for its superior innovative product, but has come under criticism for failing to maintain its edge in recent years, as other major Asian carriers Cathay Pacific and Korean Air have invested significantly in their on-board products. With this announcement Singapore is stepping up to match or outdo its competitors.

The press release is coy about the products and designs to be implemented or whether older aircraft will be refurbished, only confirming the new cabins will be rolled out on the airline’s to-be-delivered Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Will we see Singapore’s sceptical executives introduce premium economy? Will we see upgraded lounges or new ticketing and ancillary revenue initiatives? Will its new products allow it to maintain its industry leading cost per available seat kilometer (ASK) of 4.58 cents? Time will tell.

Competing carriers have been given an easy ride as Singapore has focused its attentions on averting an airline disaster with Tiger Airways, maintaining profitability, and launching Scoot. Now Singapore is rearming. Gird your loins players, in 2013 the game is back on.

The full SQ statement can be found here.

Go back to top