Odds and Ends: Progress on the KC-46A; Southwest and AirTran; British Air’s A380

KC-46A Progress: National Defense magazine has this update on progress of the Boeing KC-46A tanker. According to the article, progress is proceeding well.

Southwest Airlines and AirTran: Southwest Airlines is the USA’s legacy low-cost carrier, and it has grown through selected mergers. The acquisition of LCC AirTran fills a big gap in Southwest’s system (the Southeast) and is the most ambitious effort yet. This article wonders if it’s too much.

British Airways’ A380: BA has revealed its interior plans for the Airbus A380. The news article is here. BA becomes another airline to configure the super-jumo with fewer than 500 seats.

Cattle Car: Airbus is looking at a 236-seat configuration for its A321, using 28-inch seat pitch. Ouch.

18 comments on “Odds and Ends: Progress on the KC-46A; Southwest and AirTran; British Air’s A380

  1. Re A321

    “No fuselage stretch or other modifications, such as additional emergency exits, would be needed.”

    So current A321 operators (750 a/c, 500 on order) can do the trick too. Bad news.

  2. Looks like Airbus is trying to convince some charters the A-321 is a B-757 replacement. There is a ‘slight’ difference in range and capability. An A-321 with 236 pax crammed into it, plus an extra stewardest, will not be able to fly 3100 nm. At best it will be about 2800-2900 nm.

    Its great to hear the KC-46 is progressing very well, hopefully Boeing will keep things together on this program. They did fix the C-17 program after inhariting a very big problem from MD.

    BA putting 469 seats into the A-380? They should have just bought the B-747-8I for that, it carries 469 in a 3 class configueration, and is cheaper to buy and operate with that many seats. Will the rib feet come “pre-cracked”, or will BA hav to do that themselves?

    • BA is seating 469 in their A380s because they want a 4-class configuration with a sizeable number of both business and economy plus seats. I do agree, though, that there’s a perfect gap for a 360-380 seat 747-8i in their lineup. It seems like Lufthansa’s 748 configuration (362 seats) http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Lufthansa/Lufthansa_Boeing_747_8.php could be adapted easily to BA’s needs.

      I definitely think BA is going to fill that gap with something, particularly given the number of secondary cities they currently serve with 744s that they couldn’t possibly justify an A380 for (Phoenix, for example). They might very well look at the 748 for that slot, or possibly the 777-9x if they don’t want to take the step up in size.

      • A gap there is, the 773 having 300 seats in 4-class config. My guess is to any specific destination they could go to two 787 when they need to upgrade from the 773 instead of going to one A380, but of course that’s assuming they get the slots at Heathrow (unlikely, I guess).

    • Detail: BA business class (Club) has about 80 inch pitch. Boeing business class about 40 inch, like in the eighties. And much fewer seats. If BA copied Boeing high density layout into their aircraft, the rest of the airlines would be able to double their frequencies to LHR :)

      • As a very frequent user of Club World, I actually don’t get the complaints on A-net about the Club World seat not being upgraded. Sure, it would be nice to have the ANA seat, but it’s still a great product by comparison to others. They just need to work on their service, their hard product is fine in terms of comfort (but thank God for the upgrade to the entertainment system!).

        What they really need to focus on is their Club product for mid-range (e.g. to IST) where they are simply uncompetitive now.

      • Not sure what you mean by “Boeing business class”. Boeing doesn’t make the airlines’ seats, and considering BA currently flies only Boeing widebodies, one would think they have a good idea of how to fit their seats into Boeing aircraft.

        The 748 seating configuration I cited was the actual configuration being used by Lufthansa, not any proposed configuration from Boeing.

  3. I’m sorry, but I have to ask: why is an article as lousy as that SW/AirTran one being given the time of day here? It’s nothing but a simple bullet-point list of potential issues the merger could face, with virtually no depth or analysis, and it’s not even up to date. It talks repeatedly about SW no longer being a one-type fleet because of AirTran’s 717s, when we’ve known for months that SW is leasing those planes to Delta and will continue to only fly the 737.

  4. Regarding A321.
    Current “Maximum density layout” features 28/29inch seat pitch. That allows for 220 seats.
    Probably 6-10 seats can be gained by using the spaceflex lavatory in the rear, which would make two lavatories redundant.
    The seat blocks between the exits are never more than 15 rows. Just cutting one inch per row wouldn’t add additional seats. I guess they played around with the seats at the exists.

  5. Brian :
    Not sure what you mean by “Boeing business class”. Boeing doesn’t make the airlines’ seats, and considering BA currently flies only Boeing widebodies, one would think they have a good idea of how to fit their seats into Boeing aircraft.
    The 748 seating configuration I cited was the actual configuration being used by Lufthansa, not any proposed configuration from Boeing.

    As you can see I responded on KCT’s insight..

    BA putting 469 seats into the A-380? They should have just bought the B-747-8I for that, it carries 469 in a 3 class configueration, and is cheaper to buy and operate with that many seats.

  6. kc135topboom :
    They should have just bought the B-747-8I for that, it carries 469 in a 3 class configueration, and is cheaper to buy and operate with that many seats. Will the rib feet come “pre-cracked”, or will BA hav to do that themselves?

    Why would BA want to punish itself by operating the already obsolete 748 that is missing it’s spec and has hopeless resale values (negligible world wide fleet). Much better to get the Superjumbo.

    • You do know that BA already has the B-748, don’t you? They wet lease 3 B-748Fs from Atlas for BA Cargo. Also the B-747 has always had a good resale value, an many get a second life as converted freighters. BA tends to fly their airplanes for the entire life of the airframe, but there have been exceptions. The B-747 is designed for up to 120,000 hours, the A-380 is currently designed for about 90,000 hours. The A-380 has yet to establish itself with a good, or bad resale value, too as none of them are more than about 7 years old and not on the resale market, yet.

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