Double daily to Kochi: Aircraft utilisation crosses 10 hours per day (Aug 14th onward).
Hyderabad seems like the next logical destination.
Airline touches 25 minute turn around, timing though is baffling.
AirAsia India announced the double daily to Kochi today with minimal publicity. The double daily is effective August 14th onward, and that is when the airline’s single aircraft, an A320 registered VT-ATF, will cross 10:00hrs of daily aircraft utilisation. When that happens, the average turnaround time will settle at 30 minutes, and the average block time of each flight will hover around 1 hour.
The airline is yet to utilise the aircraft in the period between 11:20hrs and 15:10hrs: when the aircraft is on ground for almost 4 hours. Disregarding this time on ground, the aircraft’s present utilisation efficiency (total block hours against total time the airplane is used for operations) touches 69%. This number will increase if the aircraft is used on longer sectors, when the airplane spends more time in air.
If the other flights in this pattern are to remain, then the aircraft can operate two 1:10hr block hour sectors in that near 4 hour period on ground.
A 1:10hr block flight (see the green range circle in the adjacent map) is possible if the airline flies to one of the following cities: Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Belgaum or Hubli. Hubli’s airport runway is 5,500ft long, and can just meet the runway requirements for the A320. Alternately, the airline can fly sub-1:10 sectors, which include Madurai, Coimbatore, and Mangalore.
Another interesting point is the timings of AirAsia India’s flights. For its Tier II destinations, AirAsia India’s flights do not compete with the competition. For example, between 12:30 and 13:00, there are three departures to Goa, operated by Indigo, SpiceJet, and Jet Airways, what may be considered the “peak” time for departures to the holiday destination Goa from Bangalore. AirAsia India however fills a wide gap, as seen in the graph for the period wise departures to Goa. As for Kochi, the airline operates flights at times that are not served by other airlines, ensuring a comfortable day return for business passengers to Kochi.
When it comes to the only Tier I city it serves out of Bangalore- Chennai-AirAsia India’s flights do not really fill a gap, but are timed to somewhat coincide with the “peak” timings-beating the early morning IndiGo flight by 20 minutes (and moved in the graph to the 5-6 slot for purposes of clarity although the departure is at 6:05hrs) and positioning itself well to offer another departure just before other airlines offer a string of departures in every time period between 19:00 and 23:00hrs.
Loads, however, on the early morning Bangalore-Chennai vv run aren’t as great as the Goa loads, hovering at 65-70% only.
It will only be prudent for an airline to now tap another relatively denser route. AirAsia India’s aircraft is on ground between 11:20hrs and 15:10hrs. With 30 minute turnarounds, the airline can operate a 11:50 departure to a destination to which the block time is 1:10, and operate the return at 13:30 from that destination.
Of the four cities that are a block hour 1:10hrs away, Hyderabad seems lucrative as it is a Tier I route. Interestingly, a departure at 11:50 will coincide with the period which appears to be favourable for departures to Hyderabad. Between 10:00hrs and 13:00hrs, there are five departures to Hyderabad from Bangalore. No other period is as dense.
With this analysis, Hyderabad appears to be a good destination to fly to. Vijayawada, Hubli, and Belgaum may not have the loads for economically viable 180 seat airplane operations; such destinations are presently serviced by SpiceJet’s 78 seat Bombardier Q400s and AirCosta’s 67 seat Embraer E170.
If Hyderabad ‘happens’, the airline’s sole aircraft’s utilisation will touch 12:35hrs: a very impressive figure considering Air Costa plans a maximum of 11:25hrs utilisation on its E170s, with 1 hour sectors (just like AirAsia’s sectors today) even with a 20 minute turn around. AirAsia manages this by starting operations one hour earlier and stopping two-and-a-half hours after Air Costa’s.
Interesting Turnaround targets: Touching the holy 25 minute
The pattern for their single aircraft reveal some interesting data. At Cochin and Bangalore, the airline targets a 25-minute turnaround at Bangalore and Cochin between the Chennai and Cochin flights, and the Bangalore and Cochin flights. These are the only two turnarounds that are in line with AirAsia Group’s target of 25 minutes for domestic flights. Interestingly, the 25 minute turnaround at Bangalore is planned between 8:30AM IST – 8:55AM IST: the peak period for aircraft movements at the airport, when chances for delays due to congestion are higher (look at the Bangalore airport traffic density in the graph on the right).
To facilitate a faster turnaround, AirAsia uses the aerobridges between flights: passengers are encouraged to deplane from the front (aerobridge) and the rear (stairs and then apron busses), while boarding is completed via the front entry only.
To be able to consistently meet a very short turnaround target of 25 minutes, AirAsia must resort to a method of queuing passengers in the order of last seat first in, to allow the cabin to settle faster. The practicality of such an implementation is another matter of discussion.
One of Air Costa’s two Embraer E170s developed a windshield crack when operating into Bangalore, today, forcing the airplane to stay on ground for a few days till the windshield is replaced. To prevent disruption in operations, one of the E190s will be pulled into commercial service. Air Costa’s E190s seat 112 passengers in a single class, 45 more than their dual-class E170s.
The E190, registered VT-LBR, operated the Air Costa LB649 Hyderabad (ICAO: VOHS, IATA: HYD) – Jaipur (ICAO: VIJP, IATA: JAI) flight, marking the first commercial flight in India involving an Embraer E190. The flight, scheduled to depart at 14:05hrs IST, departed at 15:24hrs IST, picking up a 01:19hr delay due to the unforeseen pull-out of the E190 from parking into line operations, and the pull-out of the E170 from line ops.
The E190s were expected to be inducted into commercial service on 5th April, 2014. This bittersweet incident marks another milestone in Indian regional aviation, while also serving to emphasize how at the start-up phase of an airline, when the fleet is small, the non-availability of one aircraft can have significant operational ramifications.
Air Costa plans to stand out from the competition with its fares, connectivity, and unmatched cabin seating convenience and comfort.
Very rarely do few lucky aircrew get to experience something off-beat. For India Aviation 2014, Air India’s second newest Boeing 787-837, MSN 36279, registered VT-ANB, had to be positioned at Hyderabad Begumpet (ICAO: VOHY) from Hyderabad Shamshabad (ICAO: VOHS) on 11th March 2014. Below is the short hop, described.
VT-ANB operated as Air India AI 555, a revenue flight from Delhi (VIDP) to Hyderabad (VOHS), with the Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the airline, Rohit Nandan on board. In total, 115 passengers and 11 crew flew on ANB to Hyderabad.
After landing, ANB was towed from bay 54 to 58, for “deep cleaning”. The aircraft was delivered to the airline on 31st January 2014, and the one month of use needed to be cleaned out.
After spending 01:35 (1hr 35 min) on ground, VT-ANB was ready to fly to VOHY with the same flight deck crew, but with just one cabin crew, raising the total persons on board to 3.
The aircraft had fuel from the previous sector in its tanks: a massive 12.2 tonnes. The aircraft had a take off weight of just 127 tonnes, against 227.9 tonnes maximum take off weight.
Taxi Out VOHS
The crew pushed back from bay 58 at 14:10UTC (19:40 local), and taxied to the runway in use: 09R. The CG (Centre of Gravity) of the aircraft was at 19.1% MAC (mean Aerodynamic Chord), and the trim was set to 4.75 units. Flaps were extended to 5 degrees, and for the purposes of setting thrust, an assumed temperature of 42 degrees C and a derate of 83% was applied. The FMS was left as a flight plan discontinuity, as radar vectors were expected to VOHY.
The crew lined up on 09R, and applied take off power. The FMA (Flight Mode Annunciators) read TOGA-TOGA, and no VNAV and LNAV. At 133 knots, which was the Vr (rotate speed), the pilot flying gently pulled back on the control column, and at 14:29 UTC (19:59 local), VT-ANB was airborne.
Flight Path, VOHS/VOHY
Autopilot was engaged at 300ft RA (Radio Altimeter), and the aircraft maintained runway heading for about 2NM (nautical miles), before receiving radar vectors. VOHS is at an elevation of 2,000ft, and VT-ANB was climbed to 4,600ft. The aircraft was further vectored left by ATC, and asked if the crew could accept an ILS runway 27 approach for VOHY. The original plan was for a VORDME 09 approach into VOHY, but the crew confirmed their ability to fly into runway 27.
VT-ANB was made to descend to 3,600ft, and at 10NM from touchdown, intercepted the localiser for runway 27 VOHY. Autopilot was disconnected at 1,100ft RA. Flaps were taken in steps to 30 degrees, the approach speed maintained at 133kts, and autobrakes set to level 3.
The Boeing 787 touched down at 14:40 UTC (20:10 local), and felt extremely light when flaring. Reversers were deployed, and the aircraft slowed down, making a 180 degree turn at the end of runway 27 to backtrack towards taxiway “A”, as directed by Begumpet tower.
VT-ANB took a graceful right turn at 3-4kts taxi speed onto taxiway A, where it was welcomed with a water canon salute. Continuing its taxi, the Dreamliner turned right onto the Apron, where she was marshaled to her parking stand,. Parking brakes were applied at 14:50 UTC (20:20 local), and the short hop had consumed 1.3 tonnes of aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
I thought I’d be this cool dude by writing an extensive article on the 787 right away. Its too big, and too grand for that. In the time I will take to write up on the Dream, enjoy the photos from The Flying Engineer, who got one of the most detailed tours of the new bird from Boeing. And I adopted a reverse airflow direction over 238 economy seats and 18 business to cover this bird. Paid off!
The 787's aft Galley. In this airplane, the feeling of space is overwhelming!
A very kind Boeing employee showing me how much the seat can recline in the economy class. Notice that the bottom cushion for the thigh support slides forward as the seat reclines backward.
Another great feature on board this Boeing is the foot rest. Small additions like these make a long 8000NM flight more comfortable.
The Economy entertainment system. Providers of IFE are Panasonic and Thales. The nice handy remote can allow you to not only play your personal collection of movies through the provided USB socket, but can swipe your card for payments as well!
Another small yet useful feature: the 115V AC sockets for your appliances: available for every passenger under his/her seat!
Cabin clean shot: the economy 9 abreast seating (3-3-3) with a 32" seat pitch. Notice the feeling of space, the elevated ceiling, and the very curved overhead bins. It fools you into believing that there isn't sufficient overhead space. See the next photo to know more!
Mr. good guy from Boeing poses with a huge trolly bag and a charming smile, just to show what can fit in the overhead and how! See the next picture.
A comparison of the overhead bin, when opened, and retracted (closed). notice the space. And notice the illusion of a poor capacity when retracted. Its unbelievable.
All due to the overhead bin innovative design, you no longer have to crouch to reach your window seat. You can stand closer, and longer, for seats close to the window. There is comfort, there is space, and there is well-thought-of engineering.
Business Class: Notice the seats that allow you to lie flat and get a good flight's sleep!
Mr. goodguy from Boeing poses again just to show you how much space there is everywhere. A wide cabin, a tall ceiling, curved and non-intrusive overhead bins: all make for a very good feeling of space.
Another take of the Business class seats! They're wide, and they have a 78" seat pitch. The IFE seems good, but the comfort is unparalleled.
Photo comparison of the most talked about thing in the cabin: the polarised windows. There are no shades. Instead, electrically controlled windows (through polarisation) cut the amount of light that passes through. The left photo and the right are taken with the same camera settings of exposure & ISO. Yet, note that despite it being broad daylight, on selecting a complete cut, its pretty dark inside (look close at the left photo and you will see a faint blue image)
The small round control below each window is responsible for the dimming.
A view from the crew rest area, looking down at the cockpit entrance.
Cozy enough, comfortable. Enough for the crew? See the next photo to find out!
Boeing's 787 Captain Pat Bearce, a 6ft 3" tall ex-marines pilot, showing me that he too is comfortable in the crew rest!
The holy deck. The most sought after tourist destination on board the airplane. the Head up Displays, the avionics, and the simple feeling of luxurious space is very luring.
Another view of the deck, from the Captain's seat. The Honeywell FMS running on a Smith's (now GE) Hardware.
The Head Up Display. Notice how the display doesn't need constant refocusing of the eye. Infact, the lady captain said she who needed glasses to see instruments up close now no longer needs any spectacles while flying. HUD's allow you to have lower approach minima in poor weather.
I regret not having caught her name (Edit: Capt. Ross). There she is showing me the 787's "soft" FMS, which is NOT a touch screen, as one would be fooled into believing. A mouse-like cursor is navigated to the desired software buttons and clicked. pretty much like a laptop touch pad.
Up close and even closer. The Capt's hand on the Cursor Control unit., and shes navigating her way through the FMS. Hard to use the cursor and the keypad left of the screen, both of which demand constant shifting of the hand? Not really, says her. Its faster than on the 777's hard-FMS, is what the lady cpatin tells me!
The only touch screens in the cockpit are the Electronic Flight Bags, or the EFB. Comfort. Ease. Style. Technology.
So similair to the 777's cockpit is the 787 that FAA allows crews to undergo only 5 days of transistion training. It hasbn't worked this way across the world, with complaints from ANA, but from a higher level: the controls, the layout, the functions are all very similar to the 777. Says Capt's Pat, "To me, I just forget what a 777 and a 787 are when flying. they're transparent to each other. Almost"