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Answered Does REX have the oldest commercial (passenger) aircraft of any size in Oz?

Melburnian1

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With Regional Express' SAAB 340B VH-EKD having celebrated its 30th birthday on 10 August 2019 (apologies for the late card, I can't blame Australia Post), is this aircraft the oldest Australian-domiciled regular public transport aircraft flying one of the 'top 55' BITRE routes?

REX is notable for having the largest worldwide fleet of this type of aircraft.

I'm excluding operators with the smallest aircraft, such as Sharp Aviation, although to be fair REX once had those 19 seat Metroliners IIRC.

We've discussed before the median age of REX's fleet: high.

Aviator and AFFer job747's quick (and interesting) take was that eventually the cost of fleet replacement will 'get' Regional Express, as I'd asked whether it could survive in the long term given its increasingly elderly aircraft at some stage will presumably need replacement.
 

ozfflyer

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would have thought some of the Alliance fokkers were older than that.

Also the aircraft that crashed into the water in the Hawksbury few years back, A beaver I believe, was built in 1962 if not mistaken.

The big question is what type of aircraft will Rex eventually repalce the Saabs with ?
 

Melburnian1

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ozfflyer, many thanks.

Looking it up, QQ's F100 VH-XWM entered service on 1 July 1989 so it's about a month older than Rex's most ancient SAAB340B.

Agree re 'big question' but thus far, no news from Rex. One assumes it has a large stash of spare parts, perhaps purchased at keen prices, but the cost of keeping its fleet in operation, even though not all are intensively used every day, must be rising as time moves on.
 

ozfflyer

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ozfflyer, many thanks.

Looking it up, QQ's F100 VH-XWM entered service on 1 July 1989 so it's about a month older than Rex's most ancient SAAB340B.

Agree re 'big question' but thus far, no news from Rex. One assumes it has a large stash of spare parts, perhaps purchased at keen prices, but the cost of keeping its fleet in operation, even though not all are intensively used every day, must be rising as time moves on.
what about their F50s ? They are old.

Alliance has bought or has access to all the Austrian fokker fleet or does Austrian have shares in Alliance ?

As the Fokker cost SFA to buy, it would surely take a long time, before maintenance costs outstrip the holding costs on the aircraft that cost virtually nothing in the 1st place.
 
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By comparison, across the pacific, DL is known to have some high 20's-30yr old aircraft especially the MD80/90. Proper maintenance can keep an aircraft operating safely for many years.
I dont think age per se is an issue. They have parts. Not sure how long the parts will last for. And a fully depreciated asset creating free cash flow is not a bad thing at all.

The "cost of replacement" assumes there is a replacement. The problem is there is nothing similar in the Turbofan 35 seat range with a short range subregional capability to replace them. Bombardier only makes the Dash8-400

Edited:
The closest I can think of is the Embraer 135, but that is a turbojet a more expensive cost structure I think. Looks like range is similar to the Saabs

I suspect they will have to eventually move to a multi type fleet. Perhaps some Dash8-400 (which is still in production), for the higher passenger routes?
 
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ozfflyer

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By comparison, across the pacific, DL is known to have some high 20's-30yr old aircraft especially the MD80/90
I dont think age per se is an issue. They have parts. Not sure how long the parts will last for.

The problem is there is nothing similar in the Turbofan 35 seat range with a short range subregional capability to replace them.
The closest I can think of is the Embraer 135, but that is a turbojet with a range far in excess of what ZL would require.
E135 needs a much longer runway than a Saab 340 I think.
 

dajop

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With Regional Express' SAAB 340B VH-EKD having celebrated its 30th birthday on 10 August 2019 (apologies for the late card, I can't blame Australia Post), is this aircraft the oldest Australian-domiciled regular public transport aircraft flying one of the 'top 55' BITRE routes?
Not one to shirk on a challenge - do you count AirNorth's 30 seater Embraer 120s in this list?

VH-ANQ which is currently on a RPT from DRW to TEC (TL216) is already 31 years old: Airnorth Regional VH-ANQ (Embraer 120 Brasilia - MSN 79) (Ex DQ-MUM N277UE VH-RPA ) | Airfleets aviation

For slightly bigger aircraft, VH-XWM, an alliance Fokker 100, was delivered on 1 July 1989: Alliance Airlines VH-XWM (Fokker 70/100 - MSN 11276) (Ex D-AGPA N850US ) | Airfleets aviation
 

Melburnian1

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dajop, thanks for the AiirNorth one. I'd already mentioned the Alliance Airlines 1 July 1989 one above.

So we have three rural air operators with planes of the c.30-31 year old vintage.

Quickstatus, so what will Regional Express do with its less well patronised routes if there remains a lack of suitable, affordable aircraft in the required seating capacity range that can cope with rural airfield limitations?
 
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moa999

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The lack of possible replacements is the issue.

At the smaller end (ie 8-12 pax) there are a bunch of companies working on all electric aircraft which have much lower operating costs, including some powered by the Australian developed MagniX engine.

But the only company targeting larger aircraft Zunum Aero seems to have run out of funds.
 
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I believe the marginal rural routes will have to go the way of Single Engine light aircraft like the Cessna Caravans which can do 8-12 with non self loading payloads.
 

ozfflyer

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By comparison, across the pacific, DL is known to have some high 20's-30yr old aircraft especially the MD80/90. Proper maintenance can keep an aircraft operating safely for many years.
I dont think age per se is an issue. They have parts. Not sure how long the parts will last for. And a fully depreciated asset creating free cash flow is not a bad thing at all.

The "cost of replacement" assumes there is a replacement. The problem is there is nothing similar in the Turbofan 35 seat range with a short range subregional capability to replace them. Bombardier only makes the Dash8-400

Edited:
The closest I can think of is the Embraer 135, but that is a turbojet a more expensive cost structure I think. Looks like range is similar to the Saabs

I suspect they will have to eventually move to a multi type fleet. Perhaps some Dash8-400 (which is still in production), for the higher passenger routes?
Dash 8-400s are too big & require security. I think the new rules re security are going to be aircraft with 40 seats or less or less than 40 seats, where as the current rule I believe, is MTOW of less than 20t.
 

ozfflyer

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Dash 8-400s are too big & require security. I think the new rules re security are going to be aircraft with 40 seats or less or less than 40 seats, where as the current rule I believe, is MTOW of less than 20t.
security is incredibly expensive for some small town that currently onto get 1 or 2 flights a day.
 
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There are a multitude of considerations when it comes to selecting a suitable aircraft.

The Cessna Caravans wont need a flight attendant and I think only one pilot. The pilot can do the checkin, luggage loading, fuel loading, safety demo etc, handing out lollies....
 

ozfflyer

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There are a multitude of considerations when it comes to selecting a suitable aircraft.

The Cessna Caravans wont need a flight attendant and I think only one pilot. The pilot can do the checkin, luggage loading, fuel loading, safety demo etc, handing out lollies....
economies of scale - would be expensive.

Pilots/flight attendant can do check in, luggage loading now. Have seen qantaslink flight attendants doing check in.
 
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Not necessarily. Suitability is not just economies of scale. And airlines dont use "economies of scale" as a metric AFAIK. They use other metrics like passenger revenue per seat km flown - AKA passenger yield. Then there are others like aircraft loadings. etc etc

They wont have one Cessna Caravan if thats what you mean. If they were to go down this route it would be a fleet rather than one or two.
 

dajop

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It's interesting that smaller regional jets (and even the bigger ones) don't seem to work in the Australian market. Almost anyone who touches them seems to have bad financial experience. Yet they are the backbone of the US regional RPT aviation, which have moved away from props. I guess the bigger populations can support a much larger fleet with economies of scale.
 
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2 years ago, I remember doing a little RPT single engine aircraft doing ALB-LKP (Albany to Lake Placid, NY). All payload was weighed including passengers, ladies handbags etc. There were 6 passengers plus pilot.
The pilot even gave me a ride into town:)
 

eastwest101

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It's interesting that smaller regional jets (and even the bigger ones) don't seem to work in the Australian market. Almost anyone who touches them seems to have bad financial experience. Yet they are the backbone of the US regional RPT aviation, which have moved away from props. I guess the bigger populations can support a much larger fleet with economies of scale.
Rex are doing OK as far as profitability is concerned, but as others have alluded to - the Saab 340 is an ideal aircraft that has no upcoming replacement at all, which is really weird. I can easily forsee the entire worldwide Saab 340 fleet ending up in Australia being cannibalized for parts and working for another 10 years at Rex and other operators as well. Just like all the entire fleet of Fokker 50/70/100s will possibly.

Back on topic - there is a Skytrans Dash 8-100 that might just pip the other suggestions as far as age is concerned.
 

moa999

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