A340-500 vs 747-400 vs 777-200

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by United747&777Expert, May 18, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. United747&777Expert

    United747&777Expert Silver Member

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    Hi all,
    I recently flew SQ 21 EWR-SIN on an Airbus A340-500, and I heard people grumbling about how slow it is. Can anyone tell me how its speed compares to the 747-400 and 777-200 with stats?
     
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  2. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Welcome to milepoint. You can 'Google' this and get a pretty quick answer. I did three "Googles," one each on "cruising speed Boeing 747-400" and others substituting the names of the other two aircraft. It appears that the normal 35,000-ft cruise speed of the 340-500 is the slowest of the three, at .83 mach, that the 777-200's is a whole .01 faster, and the 747-400's a whole .01 faster than that. Those seem so close to me that operational variations, ATC clearance, vectoring and the like might well make the difference negligible, but I guess technically on a 17-hour flight the 340-500's "penalty" could be up to half an hour, roughly. Half an hour more to enjoy "Singapore Girl" cabin service, I guess. If you need more technical stats, might try those three "Googles" I named above.
     
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  3. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I just flew this flight last week; perhaps it was me you heard grumbling? ;)

    Relative to the speed of sound, the difference sounds small. However, in mph, it is bigger. 543mph vs 567mph for the a340-500 vs 747-400. Flying just shy of 10,000 miles, 24 mph makes a difference.

    Against that, avoiding a stop on the way to SIN is worth leaving a few mph on the table.

    Flying a 340 to London from NY will be longer than flying a Boeing product. VS is the main (only?) carrier with 340s on the NYC-Lon route.
     
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  4. United747&777Expert

    United747&777Expert Silver Member

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    I don't know why airbus sees the need for 4 engines when a 777 has 2 and is more efficient. Is it because of the wing design?
     
  5. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Actually the MPH depends on weather conditions, which is why these calculations are expressed in Mach. The reason why the A340-500 (mach .83 typical) is on the route rather than the allegedly faster 777-200LR (mach .84 typical), is ETOPS (true acronym Engines Turn or Passengers Swim). The B777-200LR has longer range than does the A340-500 and is cheaper to operate too. However, the brand new B77-200LR ETOPS (Dec 2011) is 330 minutes, whereas teh A340-500, with four engines, need not be concerned.

    Thus, even if the B77-200LR were lots faster, which it is not, the trip would be longer due to ETOPS and we'd be back to the A340-500 anyway. In practice the typical cruise speed quoted is often not the typical operating speed. Often other variables from prevailing winds to schedule management will dictate actual flying speed. Personally i like SQ21/22 but a day is a very, very long time to huddle in a narrow tube, however luxurious it is.

    Both the long range versions of A350 (planned for 350 minutes ETOPS) and the B787 (planned for 330 minutes) will end out replacing almost all the A340's, older B777's and B767's on ultra long range flights. There is also possibility that the B748 and the A380 could have ultra-long range variants too, but there are not too many ultra-long ultra heavy routes, so I won't hold my breath for either of those.
     
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  6. legalalien
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    legalalien Gold Member

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    When Airbus was working on A340 (a few years ahead of 777), it was commonly thought that 4 engine design is preferred by airlines for ultra long-haul flights, since it is not subject to ETOPS regulations. Fuel cost didn't matter as much back then. 777-200ER/LR and 777-300ER essentially killed A340 with their ETOPS 200+ min certification and significantly better fuel economy.
     
  7. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Agree with all of that and add that the A340 was designed and conceived at the same time as was the A330. It would never have happened at all if Asian airlines not insisted on an ultra-long-range four engine non-ETOPS limited aircraft. Even though the airplane is now nearing obsolescence, Airbus sold 375 of them and they were not a totally new design, so the program appears to have been quite profitable. Now there are rapidly declining numbers of any A340's in operation, and the A340-500 will soon be gone entirely.

    If the B787 and its long range variants were in service as originally expected they'd probably have replaced the A340-500 already. As it is we'll wait a couple of years until the B777-200LR has enough deliveries. SQ will have replaced theirs right on the normal SQ aircraft replacement schedule, I suspect, if not before.
     
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  8. United747&777Expert

    United747&777Expert Silver Member

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    Do SQ 21 will be replaced with what aircraft? 787,a380,777-300ER?
     
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  9. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    The only aircraft they now have on order that could replace it is the A350-900. Everything else on order as currently configured is too short range. The B777-300ER has a 7,930Nm range so could not make that route. of course they could change a couple fo their existing B777 order for a 200LR, but so far they've not done that. I suspect the size is a bit too big. The A350-900R will have even longer range and probably will allow more load flexibility and better environmental conditions, as the B787 already does. Based only on their existing orders, then, I suspect they'll use the A350-900 if they keep the route.
     
  10. United747&777Expert

    United747&777Expert Silver Member

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    So guys, Airbus or Boeing?
     
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  11. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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  12. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    the B787 matches the B744 as the fastest currently in service with M.85 both.
     
  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I am more concerned with what's inside the tube than whether A or B made the tube.
     
  14. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    These days A & B mostly assemble anyway, with most of the elements made by the same suspects and most of the people inside would not care anyway.
     
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  15. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    This is ever so slightly incorrect. You forgot about the 747SP. The SP has a cruising speed of Mach 0.88. Iran Air still operates two 747SPs in commercial service. They are the fastest commercial airliners in service.

    http://www.747sp.com/History.asp?20999
    http://www.747sp.com/History.asp?21758

    That said, it is unlikely you'd find many readers here on IR's metal. ;)
     
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  16. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I just flew SQ21 last week. It was booked solid for three days in a row. I only cleared a waitlist the day before. With those sort of loads, I imagine this route is quite lucrative.

    Despite the "slow" aircraft, flying non-stop is 4+ hours shorter than connecting.
     
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  17. NYBanker
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    Going dangerously close to breaking industry practices (where airlines and manufacturers don't advertise safety records), Virgin used to emphasize the fact that their planes had four engines - presumably offering additional safety.

    They have since ordered 10 2-engine A330s. http://www.businesstraveller.com/news/virgin-orders-a330-200-aircraft Maybe they should print "2 engines...more likely than not to get you there" on the sides?

    [​IMG]
     
  18. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    OMG. And that after we've just had a thread all about the 747SP and a list of the few still in service.:oops:
    Thanks for that correction!
     
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  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I love the flight. It has been packed every time I have been on it.
     
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  20. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Actually, it looks like they DO have a Frequent Flyer program, and no, it's not called "HHostages or "Nice Nukes;" also there is no mention of public lashings if one breaks the terms and conditions.

    Maybe I'll have to check it out. Nah. . .

    She's so lovely looking. . . http://www.iranair.com/site/506/default.aspx
     
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  21. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Didn't see the other SP thread, but have flown a 747SP only once, NRT-LAX after UA bought out PA's Pacific routes. That was back in the 80s, and PA had let its planes (at least the interiors) get so run down that the aircraft seemed old and dilapidated then. Three decades later some are still flying; wow.
     
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  22. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I will look for the thread. I have flown several times in both IranAir, including the delivery flight on one of them. I was also a regular flyer in PanAm SPs
     
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  23. NYBanker
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    A highly technical correction. Your post is materially correct. :)
     
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  24. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Their FF program is called SkyGift. While the details online are sketchy, one thing they do offer is a 100 point bonus if your international flight is delayed more than an hour, with 100 more points each additional hour.

    Perhaps not worth relocating to Iran for, but a nice benefit nevertheless.

    Skygift.JPG
    per hour.
     
  25. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Going further OT, this SkyGift program must be pretty sophisticated. You earn points at different rates, depending on the season!

    SkyGift2.JPG
     
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