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What airlines are flying four engine jets right now?

What airlines are flying four engine jets right now?

Old May 27, 20, 12:09 pm
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What airlines are flying four engine jets right now?

I looked up today (in the Peak District in the north of England, if you care) and saw that two of the nine vapour trails I could see were clearly from four-engined jets. Given that airlines are using a fraction of their fleets, and not all the fleet will be four-engined, why would they be using their least efficient jets? When load factors are so low Id have thought thatd be the worst thing they could do?

Long story short, which airlines are flying 4E and why?
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Old May 27, 20, 12:29 pm
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a lot of 747 freighters ... UPS, China Air, Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo, Korean, Kalitta, Cargolux to name a few

FlightAware (desktop version) has the ability to display by aircraft type
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Old May 27, 20, 12:46 pm
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Still 343's and 346's flying, 744's, 748, 388.
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Old May 27, 20, 12:52 pm
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when I checked the FlightAware "airborne types" list before posting the link above, I found over 60 744s, about a dozen 748s, four A340-300s, and exactly one each A340-500, A340-600, and A380
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Old May 27, 20, 1:17 pm
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So why fly those flavours when presumably there’s more efficient aircraft in the fleet? Am I over-estimating the number of new aircraft in fleets?
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Old May 27, 20, 1:19 pm
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There’s also the local question of who is flying these aircraft in and out of MAN. Not a cargo hub and not huge numbers of pax that would fit the essential category right now.
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Old May 27, 20, 1:36 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
So why fly those flavours when presumably there’s more efficient aircraft in the fleet? Am I over-estimating the number of new aircraft in fleets?
  1. efficiency relates to capacity (payload, in tons/tonnes) and range as well as fuel burn; the 747 has far more capacity, and likely a bit more range, than the 767
  2. just like passenger airlines, the cargo operators are trying really hard to optimize the use of their entire fleet -- esp with air cargo demand soaring
  3. several of those all-cargo carriers (Nippon Cargo and Cargolux, at least) only operate 747s, so the question of more efficient aircraft is irrelevant
Originally Posted by roberino View Post
There’s also the local question of who is flying these aircraft in and out of MAN. Not a cargo hub and not huge numbers of pax that would fit the essential category right now.
I would again point you to FlightAware or FlightRadar24 if you want to check in real time

right now the only 4-engine jet in UK airspace that I can see is a UPS 747 en route from their Louisville/SDF hub to Cologne/CGN
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Last edited by jrl767; May 27, 20 at 1:42 pm
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Old May 27, 20, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by jrl767 View Post
  1. efficiency relates to capacity (payload, in tons/tonnes) and range as well as fuel burn; the 747 has far more capacity, and likely a bit more range, than the 767
  2. just like passenger airlines, the cargo operators are trying really hard to optimize the use of their entire fleet -- esp with air cargo demand soaring
  3. several of those all-cargo carriers (Nippon Cargo and Cargolux, at least) only operate 747s, so the question of more efficient aircraft is irrelevant

I would again point you to FlightAware or FlightRadar24 if you want to check in real time

right now the only 4-engine jet in UK airspace that I can see is a UPS 747 en route from their Louisville/SDF hub to Cologne/CGN
Great answer. Thank you.
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Old May 27, 20, 9:02 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
So why fly those flavours when presumably there’s more efficient aircraft in the fleet?
Why would you presume this? Kalitta says quad-engine 744s make up 3/4 of their fleet.
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Old May 28, 20, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by jrl767 View Post
  1. efficiency relates to capacity (payload, in tons/tonnes) and range as well as fuel burn; the 747 has far more capacity, and likely a bit more range, than the 767
  2. just like passenger airlines, the cargo operators are trying really hard to optimize the use of their entire fleet -- esp with air cargo demand soaring
  3. several of those all-cargo carriers (Nippon Cargo and Cargolux, at least) only operate 747s, so the question of more efficient aircraft is irrelevant

I would again point you to FlightAware or FlightRadar24 if you want to check in real time

right now the only 4-engine jet in UK airspace that I can see is a UPS 747 en route from their Louisville/SDF hub to Cologne/CGN

Good answer.

A couple more considerations, even if you have other aircraft types on hand:
1. A 4-engine aircraft may allow a more direct/efficient flight path since no ETOPS issue.
2. Availability of aircraft-specific flight and ground crews.
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Old May 28, 20, 10:19 am
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Originally Posted by Maxwell Smart View Post
1. A 4-engine aircraft may allow a more direct/efficient flight path since no ETOPS issue.
For the pedantic amung us, ETOPS does apply to 4-engine aircraft but it is far less restrictive.
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Old May 28, 20, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by LarryJ View Post
For the pedantic amung us, ETOPS does apply to 4-engine aircraft but it is far less restrictive.
Perhaps it should be termed contigent emergency diversion routing restrictions or some such since ETOPS is "Extended Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards". What also applies to >2 engine a/c is something new called Extended Diversion Time Operations.
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Old May 28, 20, 11:29 am
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speaking of "pedantic" ...
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Old May 28, 20, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
Perhaps it should be termed contigent emergency diversion routing restrictions or some such since ETOPS is "Extended Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards". What also applies to >2 engine a/c is something new called Extended Diversion Time Operations.
The name was changed over a decade ago to ExTended OPerationS. From FAA InFO 07004 dated 1/26/07:


BACKGROUND: Formerly the term ETOPS signified “Extended Range Operation with Two-Engine Airplanes.” ETOPS guidance has been used for over twenty years to allow twoengine airplanes in part 121 operations to deviate from the regulation that limited the distance these airplanes could fly from potential diversion airfields. With over twenty years of successful experience in ETOPS operations, improvements in aircraft technology and reliability, and the prospect of airline operations on routes of increasing distance and remoteness, the FAA and industry agreed that ETOPS guidance should be reviewed, evaluated for potential application to all airplanes, and codified in the regulations. Note that the changes can be characterized by the change in meaning of ETOPS to “Extended Operations” since these provisions have broadened to include aircraft with more than two engines and to include both part 121 and part 135 operations. These regulations were posted in the Federal Register on January 16, 2007, and can be accessed at:



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Last edited by LarryJ; May 28, 20 at 12:36 pm
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Old May 29, 20, 1:16 am
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Just saw a CA 747 taking off from SHA. So they are flying around China still.
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