Odds and Ends: Korean tanker competition sounds like US rerun; About that blister on the top of airliners; JetBlue explains bags, seats

Korean tanker competition: South Korean is holding a competition for an aerial refueling tanker and in many respects, it sounds like a rerun of the USAF competition between Airbus and Boeing.

In the US contest, major debates happened over Bigger vs Smaller between the A330-200-based KC-330 MRTT and the 767-200ER-based Boeing tanker, which ultimately won and which was named the KC-46A.

This article neatly sums of this same issue in the Korean competition. It’s a matter of greater range, more fueling capacity, vs “enough” and better airport access; and global compatibility.

About that blister: Have you ever noticed the big “blister” in the top of airliner

The “blister” on top of the fuselage contains internet connectivity antennae. The power line appearing to come out of the top of the blister is not part of this. Source: AirlineReporter.com

fuselages? This is for Internet connectivity, an increasingly popular feature on airlines as passengers bring their own Nookbooks, iPads and the like to watch movies or cruise the Net. But aircraft lessors apparently don’t find these features all that desirable and are increasingly talking about having airlines take them out at the end of lease terms. Mary Kirby of Runway Girl Network has this story on the esoteric topic.

JetBlue explains bags, seats: JetBlue is reducing seat pitch and adding bag fees. CFO Mark Powers explains these moves in a Bloomberg News interview.

17 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Korean tanker competition sounds like US rerun; About that blister on the top of airliners; JetBlue explains bags, seats

  1. “It’s a matter of greater range, more fueling capacity, vs “enough” and better airport access; and global compatibility.”

    Just like in the US contest, I’m not entirely sure that includes the complete set of considerations. Or that these considerations are all of the Korean Air Force.

  2. Required “offsets” come to mind re scope expansion.
    Pointing out that the U.S. Air Force is to procure 179 KC-46s by 2027, Boeing stresses that the KC-46 is the best candidate for South Korea in terms of interoperability with its long-standing security ally, the U.S
    Expect North Korea to act up if the decission process veers off course 😉

  3. South Korea is looking for just 4 new tankers with delivery from 2017 on.
    4 aircraft want occupy much of an airfield.

    Several points pro MRTT:
    – maintenance: Korean Airlines operates already 24 A330 and has 8 more on order.
    – spare parts: the A330 is still in production while no airline has the 767 on order.
    – operational: Australia is already refueling over Iraq.
    – tactical: MRTT can carry far more US troops from Guam or Okinawa to South Korea than a KC-46.
    – better short runway performance! An MRTT can take off with far more fuel from short runways than a 767-200. The 767-2C fuselage is even longer than standard 767-200.
    – pride: the MRTT is far bigger than Japanese KC-767

    • MHalblaud,
      767-2C is the same fuselage as the 767-200. The difference in overall length is due to the refueling boom.
      What’s sure is that A330MRTT is now Dassault/Airbus military/Saab fighter compatible whereas KC46 will tend to be only USAF/Navy compatible in the first place …
      Of course Korea buys american so it weakens the point… but i guees A330MRTT will F35 compatible before the KC46 ?

      • the KC-46 will be compatible with all western standard refueling capable aircraft as it will have both boom and hose-and-drogue

        the KC-330 is also available with both boom and hose-and-drogue, although it has a disconcerting habit of dropping the boom like a gecko drops it’s tail…

        WRT the KC-46 going in to service with outdated engines, this has been the norm in US procurement of large aircraft based on civil designs.

        we still run TF33s on B-52 and C-135/707/720 based aircraft (except the KC-135R which uses CFM56-2, which was outdated when it was installed)
        we bought 747-200s for AF1 after the 747-400 was in service
        the C-17 uses PW2040, which was getting long in the tooth when the first C-17 rolled off the line in ’91
        we are currently installing CF6-80C2 engines on C-5Ms, an engine that entered service in the early ’80s.
        until recently there was talk of _upgrading_ the JSTARS fleet to TF33s (that’s an upgrade?)
        there are proposals to put CFM56-2s on B-52’s so we can fly them for another 50 years.

        • Bilbo,

          No doubt the only Gecko flying will be made in Europe with pride.
          Mechanical compatibility is one thing, Certification is another (ie paperworks ?).
          So in the end all KC46’s will be able to refuel the flying world (including flying gecko’s), but it remains to so when this end will be.

          No doubt also the KC46 will be a good tanker
          Let me just think that the A330MRTT is a good, well, Multirole tanker

          • for sure, at the end of the day, either tanker will get the job done, both tankers will be certified for all western aircraft, the KC-330 will work out its boom issues, and the real deciding factors will be political as opposed to technical.

            either one will meet korea’s actual (DPRK) and imaginary (Dokdo) needs, but as we have seen in the past, the korean defence agencies closely tailor their requirements to ensure only one possible outcome can be reached, going so far as to “re-compete” with “updated requirements” when the desired aircraft loses on merit.

        • “WRT the KC-46 going in to service with outdated engines, this has been the norm in US procurement of large aircraft based on civil designs.”

          Why then the blatant hypocrisy on the importance of fuel burn in the second KC-X RFP? Northrop Grumman was indeed proven correct — that the tanker RfP was nothing but a price shootout, or at least an operating costs shootout, where absolute fuel consumption accounted for the biggest differentiator between the two offerors.

          • I don’t think that in the final, final, this time we really mean it, as long as Boeing wins, Tanker competition that anyone ever suggested that it was anything other than a “minimum cost, technically acceptable” competition.

            the rules were structured such that if any bid that met the technical minimums (structured to line up with the KC-46 capabilities) was more than (IIRC) 5% cheaper lifecycle, then the competition was over and the low bid wins.

            why Airbus/NG even bothered bidding is beyond me as it was clear from the getgo that unless they were willing to take a huge loss, it wasn’t gonna happen.

          • AFAIR, the RFP was structured in such a way that a consideration of additional features of the two tankers would only occur if the bidders where within 1 percent of cost. If the cut-off point had been structured to be “whithin 5 percent”, IMJ the USAF may then have had to take into consideration the extra capabilities offered by the A330 MRTT. In fact, the “one percent” was clearly beneficial for the eventual winner in the KC-X tanker “competition”. 😉

          • The fuel consumption was calculated according to a so called “Fuel Usage Rate Profiles” (RFP Table A-10). Each profile contained touch & go maneuvers. On average it was expected that the new US tanker will perform over 7 touch & go maneuvers on every flight until decommissioning. The smaller aircraft was benefited by this strange assumption.

            Airlines train touch & go maneuvers with simulators. BTW US Air Force had also an RFP for tanker simulators…

            Where was not one flight profile somehow simulating troop movement from the US to some distance places like Iraq or Afghanistan. E.g. one RAF Voyager (A330MRTT) is doing 2 weekly flights from Brize Norton to Falkland Islands and at least one Voyager will receive an airline livery! http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/thomas-cook-to-lease-a330-from-airtanker-400698/
            5 “non-core” Voyagers out of 14 are thought to be leased in some ways. The KC-X RFP nowhere considered the new tankers making revenues.

          • I am sure under US law there is (or would be as soon as a corporate lobbyist saw the possiblity) a law that would prevent flying revenue passengers on military aircraft in a similar manner to what you describe.

            WRT the odd flight profiles, the whole tender was written up front to favor the KC-46, why would the flight profiles be any different? but WRT the touch and gos… when I was in the AF at a SAC base, the KC-135-Rs would spend all day every day doing touch and gos.. they’d fly out in the morning, fly a couple hour loop to practice nav and stationkeeping, then come back and fly about 10 T&Gs. every bird that flew each day did the same thing.. so maybe this particular profile is not made up, but representative of historical use.

      • According to the following document by Boeing the KC-46 is going to be 165´6´´ long: http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/defense-space/military/kc46a/pdf/kc46a_tanker_backgrounder.pdf

        The scaled top view is misleading because the end of the boom is missing. On side view it is obvious that the boom does indeed extend the standard 767-200 by about 6 feet. A 767-200 is 159´2´´ long. – It looks like the end of the long 6th generation boom could reach the jet blast of the APU?

        Rotation rate should still be limited compared to 767-200. Therefore the 767-2C could carry even less payload on short runways in relation to a normal 767-200 without a tail. You should look up take-off performance for “Standard day + 17°C” (32°C or 90°F) and a partly destroyed runway…

        Without a longer fuselage another problem is still eminent. The main cargo door is just less than 5 feet away from the left engine nacelle! This distance is more than 15 feet for a 767-300F or 25 ft for A330-200F. Standard cargo loader are much wider than the cargo door. Nacelle replacement will be a good business for Boeing. Maybe P&W can profit too.

        “What’s sure is that A330MRTT is now Dassault/Airbus military/Saab fighter compatible whereas KC46 will tend to be only USAF/Navy compatible in the first place …”

        The A330-MRTT is on refueling missions other Iraq and especially refueling RAAN’s F/A-18s. All US NAVY aircraft operate with the same probe (NATO standard). The F-35C will have a probe. The Australian KC-30A is also equipped with a boom to refuel RAAN’s C-17, E-7A Wedgetail and P-8 Poseidon.

        The higher flow rate of a boom is only available for bomber aircraft like B-52, B-1, B-2 and maybe B-35. With a wing pod mounted probe and drogue system 2 fighter aircraft could be refueled at once. The British Voyager KC3 could refuel 3 fighter aircraft due to a fuselage refueling unit with up to 700 USgpm. The old KC-135 booms refuel at 900 USgpm. Just the KC-10 boom designed by McDonnell Douglas has a flow rate of 1200 USgpm.

        Do you think the McDonnell Douglas’ engineers which designed the KC-10 boom still work for Boeing and Boeing’s 6th generation boom will work smoothly from day one on?

        The KC-767 issue with fluttering wings due to refueling pods was solved years later. The KC-46 will have different wings.

        An A330-MRTT could also replace South Korean VIP 747 on many occasions. One of Australia 5 KC-30 will get VIP seating instead of standard airline seating. RAF offers touristic seats to Falkland Island on a Voyager with a stop over at Ascension Island. The stop over is not necessary but required by RAF to supply Ascension Island.

        The KC-46 does need a cargo floor because the lower cargo bay is totally occupied with additional fuel tanks. A KC-46 with airline seating has no capacity for pallets.

  4. Looking at operations and orders I see existing / future MRTT competability with
    F16, F15, JSF, Eurofighter, F18, Rafale, Grippen, 737 Wedgetail, Awacs.. maybe I forgot a few. anyway it was selected by UASAF before congress stepped in, so likely competitibility is not a real issue. Frankly I believe airport access is hardly a real world requirement. The foreseen operating bases are used for larger/ heavier aircraft for decades.

    • I think you need to think again on the “airport access” issue with regard to tanker availability and suitability.

  5. Another tanker contest:
    Occar is looking for “a new aerial refuelling capability under the Multinational MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet (MMF)”.

    “It should be noted that, while the European aerial refuelling project is dubbed the MRTT MMF, the similarity to the A330-200 MRTT moniker is an unfortunate coincidence and does not presuppose any bias towards a particular platform or solution.”

    This Occar acquisition process is led by the Netherlands. Norway is participating. Maybe Belgium and Poland will join.

  6. “Bubonic” Internet access devices:
    Afaics these systems present a case of provider lock in.
    Thus the installed stuff presents additional constraints for a further lease.
    this is blowback from pushing vertical proprietary systems.

    Didn’t Airbus try to get away from that starting with the A350 also bringing in homogenous access for both the plane and the pax?

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