Randy's Journal: Archives
Weight another minute
After our blog the other day, "Weight a minute," about the 747-8F and the A380F, a bunch of you weighed in yourselves. As in, wait a minute Randy, you conveniently neglected to mention that the A380F has more range!
And a number of people sent in comments implying that this range difference somehow makes up for the added 74 tonnes of operating empty weight (OEW) on the A380 freighter. For example:
Let's redo the math with the range and you will see that yours is payload limited at 5000nm and the A380F flies 1500nm farther. Always funny to read your propaganda!
And this one:
Your assessment of the 747-800F vs. the A380F is flawed. The A380 can fly MUCH further - 1400 nautical miles (or 25%) more range than the 747-800F so that makes up for the "dead weight" you speak of. Must do better!
Well, we certainly did not leave out the range part of the story for "propaganda" value, and we don't deny that the A380F has more range. Yes, Airbus claims the A380F will fly 5,600 nautical miles at full payload, or about 1,100 nmi (not 1,400 or 1,500) more than the 747-8F. It's just that when you get right down to it, this makes little difference in terms of efficiency. The A380 still makes a very inefficient freighter.
Regardless, this was yet another lively topic on aviation forums such as Airliners.net where "Tony" got things started, then quipped, "I'll give this to Randy: he definitely knows how to pull our strings! I'm sure he's reading all this with a big wide smile on his face."
So, let's pull some more strings, and as the one comment above suggests, do some more math. First, let's acknowledge that the 747-8F can fly 5,600 nmi too, but would then be limited to about 114 tonnes of revenue payload, or about an 85% load factor.
The 747-8 Freighter is the only new freighter that can be loaded "straight in" through its unique nose cargo door. This can reduce loading and unloading times significantly, and makes it possible to load long and awkwardly shaped cargo, which can be an important source of premium revenue.
Compared at that range, the A380F could potentially have 27 more tonnes of revenue payload than the 747-8, but again, for 74 tonnes more structural weight. In other words, 24% more potential revenue on 5,600 nmi range flights for 42% more structural weight! Weight that has to be carried on every A380F flight, long or short!
This is not a good trade either. Particularly when you consider that air freight has very uneven flows and in most cases has significantly lower backhaul loads.
The fact is the A380F will still be carrying that extra 74 tonnes of structural weight on every flight - with little or no additional revenue to offset the significantly higher fuel consumption and operating costs associated with that extra weight.
There's also another point to consider about range and infrastructure requirements for freight. Today's long haul air freight network is built on 747 range and capabilities. Which means the 747-8 will fit easily into today's air freight carriers' operations and infrastructure.
And when you get right down to it, isn't it ironic that now Airbus is arguing for nonstop flights without the "hassle" of connecting through hubs? I mean, these are boxes, not people!
Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. And yes Tony, I guess I did have a wide smile on my face!