Don your anorak and get technical about airplanes.
#874969 by Dave Adkins
09 Jun 2014, 08:39
Just out of curiosity how long can the same plane be used on a route? I mean how many continuous days usage can a plane get before it has to 'stand-down' for maintenance? It's just that I notice African Queen (G- VELD) has flown VS39/40 LHR/ORD/LHR for the past 5 days. :?
#874978 by starquake
09 Jun 2014, 11:18
To my knowledge all plane maintenance (and I'm no expert) is based on hours running. Certainly my (very brief) foray into private aviation, I've done a few hours of a PPL - indicated from those sessions that the air frame needed maintenance every X hours of flight.

On top of that, the engines themselves have a set hours to overhaul. On a SEP engine for PPL - it can be as little as 1800 hours.

My understanding all of this is set by airframe and engine manufacturers. And obviously a concern like Virgin would try and keep Airframe and Engine maintenance to happen at same time.

They also have to pass annual tests - and other tests - but the hours may also expire prior to this. It could be VS's current fleet juggling is to arrange things to save on M costs on their airframes and engines. Components on aircraft are hugely expensive, so by maximising use in hours before the annual and combining them would make operational sense.

As Chicago as hours in air goes is lower than say Hong Kong, you'd expect less maintenance.

This is purely based on my basic knowledge as a previous PPL trainee - and extending this to jet's which do work under roughly same CAA guidelines to best of my knowledge.
#874980 by Neil
09 Jun 2014, 11:26
It hasn't nothing to do with the route it is on, it just has to comply with the maintenance schedule set our by the relevant authorities / airline manufacturers.

If you have a look at the a/c database you will see that a/c operate for days/weeks/months without a noticeable break, so in theory VS could keep this a/c on this route if they wanted.

Each a/c will under checks on a daily basis, and with ORD operated out of a main base (LHR) then they have their own team on the ground to do this. For a/c operating out of say MAN, they rotate back to LGW on a much regular basis as VS don't have their own maintenance staff at MAN but they done at LGW, so they won't keep an a/c away from a main base for a long period of time (usually the max is 5/6 days).

#874992 by slinky09
09 Jun 2014, 13:26
It is relatively unusual for the same aircraft to fly one route on five consecutive days though, this is because every airline wants to get the maximum utilization out of each aircraft (i.e. ROI). Consider LHR-ORD-LHR is probably only 15 hrs in the air, that's pretty low utilization for a long haul aircraft (although again not unusual) and nine hours sitting around. Some LHR 747s for example arrive from JFK or EWR and within two or three hours they're off to SFO and that's a more normal operating model. VS, with it's relatively small fleet and route network probably has more repetition than some others however.
#875007 by wwings
09 Jun 2014, 14:50
And given there are currently only 3 x 343's operating (and soon to be 2) it will be even more probable the same aircraft does the same route.
Virgin Atlantic

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