Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Aug 5th 2009 12:54PM Well, that's how it looks in the US. However, back in Europe, I'd go nonrev if I could every day. Except weekends and really hectic times like Christmas and Easter, I don't remember being on a single plane booked full, be it a low-cost or a legacy carrier, so there is some room left for that kind of travel... if only I could... :)
Jun 1st 2009 12:51PM Although passengers' weight might not be a problem at all on a medium to large jet (think Boeing 737 and 747) it may become a major challenge for a small aircraft.
Why is that? For one thing a bigger jet isn't always loaded at maximum take-off weight, especially now with the accent being shifted on less weight=less fuel needed, and secondly, even if it were filled to the maximum, a big airplane still has a pretty big margin of safety i.e. could easily cope with let's say an unaccounted 1000 pounds extra weight of passengers (for a 747 that's being 0.1% overweight).
A smaller airplane on the other hand (think commuter props like the Beechcraft 1900) has a very small margin of error - it carries a maximum of 19 people and if you have a load of people that are on average 240 lbs instead of 190 you suddenly have almost 1000 lbs of unaccounted extra mass, which adds an extra 5.5% of the maximum take-off weight. So the same 1000 pounds mean 55 times MORE extra weight in percentage for the small aircraft than for the big one - it's obvious how that can present a huge problem.
Moreover, think of how all this weight is distributed in a plane. When it comes to big airplanes, the passengers' weight distribution is roughly even throughout the plane, however, think of what this means to a small airplane. Imagine you have 10 people that are 140 lbs each and 9 that are 250 lbs each; that means some 3600 lbs for 19 passengers, so on average you have 192 lbs/person, close to the airlines' assumptions; hence the plane won't be overweight. Now think what happens if all the 250 lbs people sit on the right and all the 140 lbs ones stay on the left of the plane? You get a plane which is unbalanced with the right hand side being significantly heavier than the left.
But what if you put all the heavy people in the front? You get a nose-heavy aircraft, which will have big trouble lifting off the runway and will tend to go nose-down every chance it gets. And what if you put the heavy people all in the back of the plane? It will be so tail-heavy it will probably end up with the nose in the air even before starting the engines. But if it takes-off this nose-up attitude can stall and crash the airplane.
And for a definitive answer, Air Midwest flight 5481, which was a small commuter airplane like I described above, was some 600 lbs overweight when it crashed - and the accident report decided that this was one of the major causes of the crash - so, weight it definitely is a major safety issue.