Aircraft are expensive. Airlines try to use them round the clock because they can’t make money from aircraft that are sitting idle on the ground. It is called ‘running the aircraft hot’ in the industry. For many smaller airlines, the biggest barrier to running hot is that their markets are not large enough to just passenger flights during the day and night. So, in order to avoid air craft being idle overnight, they must be used in some other way. That was the motive behind Boeing 737 ‘Quick Change’ (QC) aircraft. With it, airlines have the flexibility to use it for passenger flights during the day and, with less than a one –hour changeover (set-up) time, use it as a cargo airplane throughout the night. Boeing engineers designed frames that hold entire rows of seats that can smoothly glide on and off the aircraft allowing twelve seats to be rolled into place at once. When use for cargo, the seats are simply rolled out and replaced by special cargo containers designed to fit the curve of the fuselage and prevent damage to the interior. Before reinstalling the seats the sidewalls are thoroughly cleaned so that, once the seats are in place, passengers cannot tell the difference between a QC aircraft and a normal 737.
Aloha Airlines, which serves Hawaii, particularly values the aircraft’s flexibility. It allows it to provide frequent, reliable services in both passenger and cargo market. So the aircraft that has been carrying passengers around the islands during the day can be used to ship fresh supplies overnight to the hotels that underpin the tourist industry. The flexibility also allows the airline to respond to emergencies. When Hurricane Iniki hit the islands, the passenger market collapsed until damage could be repaired, but there was a huge increase in the amount of cargo traffic to repair the island’s facilities.
1- If the changeover between ‘passengers’ and ‘cargo’ took two hours instead of one, how much impact do you think it would have on the usefulness of the aircraft?
2- For an aircraft that passengers all the time, what is the equivalent of setup reduction? And why it might be important?