Old BA flight #9

Old Oct 29, 15, 7:58 am
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Old BA flight #9

I’m a real geek for “old” aviation routes and some research on engines lead me to the BA flight #9 failure and was surprised to learn three things:

1) there were at least 5 stops (Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth and Melbourne) before reaching Auckland, compared to say just 2 or 3 stops nowadays (Hong Kong/Singapore, Sydney). Is it just me or does anyone else consider this to be quite excessive?
2) from what I read the old LHR to AKL route was all on BA metal (747-200), which must have been one of, if not the longest BA service at the time, at least in terms of overall distance travelled on the one aircraft, or were there similar routes?
3) the shorter ‘hops’ i.e. Bombay to Madras would only have taken about 1 to 1.5 hours tops, which I always thought was impractical and inefficient on a 747 due to the large amount of energy used in getting it up in the air?

I was thinking maybe the large amount of stops was due to the limitations of the jet engines (range, fuel etc.). But then I think of the modern BA LHR to SIN route being served quite comfortably by a 747-400 with the same engines as the -200 variant – there can’t be that many differences (other than the engines) between the two variants to warrant so many stops on the traditional Auckland journey. I had always thought a fully loaded 747 could pretty much fly for at least 12 hours regardless of which variant it was and that this was what they were primarily made to do – i.e. high capacity longer routes? Airlines like Pan-Am and United apparently operated such routes regularly between the US and Asia, so why would be BA be any different?

With regards to the BA metal, the longest BA route now from what I can see is the LHR-SYD route served almost exclusively by the B777 – or are there others that would compare to the old LHR-AKL route? The last few stops on the London to Auckland journey seem to be dominated by likes of Qantas and Cathay Pacific, which says to me the last time BA aircraft were seen in New Zealand was the late 80’s/early 90’s – can anyone confirm?

Anyway sorry for the rant, this old time stuff just really interests me! I wasn’t born until late 1986, so well after the ‘golden era’ of flying.



Thanks,

R.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by rmac86 View Post
I’m a real geek for “old” aviation routes and some research on engines lead me to the BA flight #9 failure and was surprised to learn three things:

1) there were at least 5 stops (Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth and Melbourne) before reaching Auckland, compared to say just 2 or 3 stops nowadays (Hong Kong/Singapore, Sydney). Is it just me or does anyone else consider this to be quite excessive?
2) from what I read the old LHR to AKL route was all on BA metal (747-200), which must have been one of, if not the longest BA service at the time, at least in terms of overall distance travelled on the one aircraft, or were there similar routes?
3) the shorter ‘hops’ i.e. Bombay to Madras would only have taken about 1 to 1.5 hours tops, which I always thought was impractical and inefficient on a 747 due to the large amount of energy used in getting it up in the air?

I was thinking maybe the large amount of stops was due to the limitations of the jet engines (range, fuel etc.). But then I think of the modern BA LHR to SIN route being served quite comfortably by a 747-400 with the same engines as the -200 variant – there can’t be that many differences (other than the engines) between the two variants to warrant so many stops on the traditional Auckland journey. I had always thought a fully loaded 747 could pretty much fly for at least 12 hours regardless of which variant it was and that this was what they were primarily made to do – i.e. high capacity longer routes? Airlines like Pan-Am and United apparently operated such routes regularly between the US and Asia, so why would be BA be any different?

With regards to the BA metal, the longest BA route now from what I can see is the LHR-SYD route served almost exclusively by the B777 – or are there others that would compare to the old LHR-AKL route? The last few stops on the London to Auckland journey seem to be dominated by likes of Qantas and Cathay Pacific, which says to me the last time BA aircraft were seen in New Zealand was the late 80’s/early 90’s – can anyone confirm?

Anyway sorry for the rant, this old time stuff just really interests me! I wasn’t born until late 1986, so well after the ‘golden era’ of flying.



Thanks,

R.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:10 am
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Not sure there was much that was golden about my first trip from Australia - Brisbane, Sydney, Singapore, KL, Oman and LHR. Seemed to last forever and the Singapore/KL leg seemed particularly redundant.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:17 am
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I have no knowledge of such matters, but had always assumed the many stops on such routes were commercial decisions to maximise traffic, rather than stops dictated by aircraft range.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:18 am
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Old BA flight #9

I've always wondered about the crew for these trips. Did they do one leg, then night off, next leg, night off etc. ?

They must have been away for weeks especially on those routes that weren't daily.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:28 am
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In the past our Australia and New Zealand flights did have many more stops and the routing did change over the years.
I don't think that the BA009 ever operated the route the OP posted operated, I cannot remember it going via BOM and MAA.
The crew normally operated around a 10 hour duty day so some days there would be one long sector and on others a double sector.
Trips down to Auckland were 21 day trips for cabin crew, the flight crew had shorter trips as there was a base in Sydney.

Last edited by Can I help you; Oct 29, 15 at 8:48 am
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:32 am
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I'm sure the 747-200 had more differences than just the engines to the 744. I'm 99% sure the 742 couldn't operate LHR-SIN nonstop with a decent payload.

I think having so many stops was a combination of a few factors:
-Lack of range to simply fly LHR-NRT-AKL (NRT is the most major airport close to the Great Circle route)
-Less competition back then (no EK/QR etc), so having more stops wasn't a competitive problem
-Added feed/options. BA9 wasn't simply offering A to B, but A-B, A-C, A-D, A-E, B-C, C-D, D-E etc. It's basically serving multiple markets with just one aircraft/flight number
-As a result of the above, BA might be making more money. It's a well known fact that NZ 1 (AKL-LAX-LHR) yields more for NZ when people just book AKL-LAX or LAX-LHR than if they book AKL-LHR. They don't want people flying all the way through. They want the plane full of people coming/going to LAX.

Whilst the 747 was designed to (capable of) fly long distances, it's not necessarily true that they are uneconomic on short hops. Case in point, CX now only regularly use the 744 on one route, HKG-HND, which is only ~4 hours. JL and NH ordered the "domestic" 747-400 variant, which was fitted with nearly 600 seats, which only flew 1-2 hour sectors in Japan. Nowadays, just swap "747" with "777" and you'll see many many airlines operating this plane on short hops. To this day, BA still operate large planes on short hops e.g. AUH-MCT & BAH-DOH. Why? Cos' it makes money!
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:45 am
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Big difference then vs now was the inability to fly over the Soviet Union
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:49 am
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All of the above points - particularly commercial reality as less competition and lower demand for some of the city pairs that now get direct flights. I remember watching a documentary on BA149 (which got blown up in KWI) and the CSD said they had 6 disembarking passengers plus the security services people. Today KWI is direct on the 744 so the load is more than 6!!

Life was slower then - you would be allowed to go to face to face meetings etc. These days people are expected, if they go, to travel in their own time and so 5 stops to get to AKL isn't acceptable. In those days it was a bit of a jolly.

Oil was cheaper.

The AKL route, I think, stopped in early 2000s (I have 2003 in my head but that may be MEL) - it ended up being a 772.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:53 am
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I'm wrong: 26 March 1995 was BA's final flight to AKL.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by IAMORGAN View Post
I remember watching a documentary on BA149 (which got blown up in KWI) and the CSD said they had 6 disembarking passengers plus the security services people. Today KWI is direct on the 744 so the load is more than 6!!
I guess with the Iraqi army on the doorstep, a lot of people might have put their trips off, so 6 pax probably wasn't a normal number. Weren't the crew expecting to be told to divert pretty much the entire flight?
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Old Oct 29, 15, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by shefgab View Post
I guess with the Iraqi army on the doorstep, a lot of people might have put their trips off, so 6 pax probably wasn't a normal number. Weren't the crew expecting to be told to divert pretty much the entire flight?
Yes and in fact the captain took something like a 2 hour delay to fix a u/s APU which we all know is unusual!

I think that flight was doing something like KWI-India-KUL
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Old Oct 29, 15, 9:42 am
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I think it was operating LHR KWI KHI.
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Old Oct 29, 15, 9:54 am
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Not directly related, but my husband operated the first BA flight back out of KWI once it reopened..think the wreckage of G-AWND was still there.
The OP would enjoy a book called "Beyond The Blue Horizon" by Alexander Frater, about the old Empire boat routes....


"In Beyond The Blue Horizon Alexander Frater reveals and relives the romance and breathtaking excitement of the legendary Imperial Airways Eastbound Empire service – the world’s longest and most adventurous scheduled air route. Written with an infectious passion, this is an extraordinarily original and genre-defining piece of travel writing by one of our most highly respected travel correspondents."
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Old Oct 29, 15, 10:36 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
I think it was operating LHR KWI KHI.
LHR-KWI-MAA-SZB (new code for me!) according to the 100% accurate Wikipedia...!
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