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Author Topic: Aircraft range and the Hawiian Islands
WildaBeast
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Many Hawaii-based airlines use smaller, short-range aircraft as "island hoppers" -- A quick check of Wikipedia shows that Hawiian uses the Boeing 717 (Boeing's addition to the MD-80/DC-9 family), Aloha uses the 737-200, and Island Air uses mainly Dash-8 turboprops.

Do any of these aircraft have a long enough range to make it from Hawaii to the US mainland? (I doubt the turboprops do, but what do I know about these things) So how do these planes get to Hawaii in the first place? Presumably, they have to fly some route that would allow them to stop for fuel. Just what route would they have to take to get a 717 or a Dash-8 from the US mainland to Honolulu?

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Doug4.7
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What I was told by a pilot is they either have extra fuel tanks to make the run, or they actually SHIP the airplane by boat.

Also, the "range" of an airplane is based on a nominal passenger/cargo load plus a 45 minute (?) flight reserve (to make it to an alternate airport). I think that you can get special permission to fly empty, with topped off tanks, and run much closer to empty to get a plane to Hawaii.

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Hero_Mike
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A quick check shows the distance from San Diego to Hilo at just over 4000km. Some models of 737 and MD-80 have a long enough range for this, but most do not.

A Dash-8 definitely does not have the "legs" for such a flight, and I doubt it could even get additional fuel to make the flight. The standard range of a new Dash-8 is 2522km. A flight of 4000km is 58% longer, so one would assume that this would require at least 58% more fuel than the full fuel load of 6526L. This is 3824L of fuel, which would weigh about 80% of the same volume of water, or 3059kg. While this would be about half the additional payload, there is, of course, the method of getting the fuel from these temporary tanks, to the real fuel tanks. Then there is the business of removing these tanks for the plane to operate "normally". I am fairly sure that this aircraft would travel by boat to Hawaii.

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kanazawa
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Good question. I see the great circle distance between San Francisco and Hawaii is 2399 miles, and the range of the Dash-8 is 1567 miles.

From a glance at my Cessna manual, range seems to be computed at max gross weight, and most efficient throttle setting and altitude.

Not sure having the Dash-8 empty of passengers would get it there, but if not my guess would be it wouldn't take too many extra fuel tanks to get it there...

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WildaBeast
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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
A quick check shows the distance from San Diego to Hilo at just over 4000km. Some models of 737 and MD-80 have a long enough range for this, but most do not.

Aloha in fact flies a 737-700 between Sacramento and Maui, but I presume that model must have a longer range than most 737s.

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DaGuyWitBluGlasses
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It should be cheaper to send any (non-gliding) airplane by boat than to pay the fuel to fly the plane the same distance.

Now the real question is how to get the plane from the Seaport to the Airport…

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GenYus
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quote:
Originally posted by WildaBeast:
quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
A quick check shows the distance from San Diego to Hilo at just over 4000km. Some models of 737 and MD-80 have a long enough range for this, but most do not.

Aloha in fact flies a 737-700 between Sacramento and Maui, but I presume that model must have a longer range than most 737s.
Boeing has a 737-700ER that has a range of 5,500 nautical miles.

quote:
Originally posted by DaGuyWitBluGlasses:
It should be cheaper to send any (non-gliding) airplane by boat than to pay the fuel to fly the plane the same distance.

Now the real question is how to get the plane from the Seaport to the Airport…

Cheaper to ship maybe, but the assembly and disassembly costs would be quite high. I doubt many cargo ships exist that could fit a fully assembled 737, especially since many large cargo ships use containers that are only 40ft x 8 ft x 9 ft.

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Shrek_Daddy
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Just remember you could get there from the other side..Use the WWII approach. Philippines to Palau to Guam to Marshall Islands to Midway to Hawaii. Maximum distance would be 1608 NM (1850 miles). That might be feasible for a Dash 8 with ferry tanks. (of course a boat would probably be faster and safer after all is done.)

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Hero_Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Shrek_Daddy:
Just remember you could get there from the other side..Use the WWII approach. Philippines to Palau to Guam to Marshall Islands to Midway to Hawaii. Maximum distance would be 1608 NM (1850 miles). That might be feasible for a Dash 8 with ferry tanks. (of course a boat would probably be faster and safer after all is done.)

Good point, but the Dash 8 is built in Canada and needs to get to the Philippines somehow. Aside from going all the way around the world the other way (through Europe and Asia, via Greenland, Iceland, and the UK), it's a long hop from North America to Hawaii.

And somehow, even though I said that *some* models of 737 have enough range to get to Hawaii, *most* do not, I still have people quoting me to mention that there is a 737-700ER that does have a long range. I thought I said this. Perhaps we should revisit Sesame Street and a lesson what is meant by words like some, most, all, and none.

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Psihala
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I may have to write to Boeing to get an "official" cite, but the 717 and 737's are ferried to Hawaii using specifically designed ferry tanks that are installed in the passenger cabin.

The seats are removed and the tanks are installed in their place (ETA: over the wings... not all the seats need to be removed, it seems).

Maybe not authoritive enough, but there was mention of the process in a recent discussion here and a brief mention on how Hawaiian Air got their 717's from the mainland (Phoenix to Honalulu).

ETA: Found a picture of a Hawaiian Air 717-22A with the ferry tanks installed in the cabin.

~Psihala

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Shrek_Daddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
quote:
Originally posted by Shrek_Daddy:
Just remember you could get there from the other side..Use the WWII approach. Philippines to Palau to Guam to Marshall Islands to Midway to Hawaii. Maximum distance would be 1608 NM (1850 miles). That might be feasible for a Dash 8 with ferry tanks. (of course a boat would probably be faster and safer after all is done.)

Good point, but the Dash 8 is built in Canada and needs to get to the Philippines somehow. Aside from going all the way around the world the other way (through Europe and Asia, via Greenland, Iceland, and the UK), it's a long hop from North America to Hawaii.


You could probably bunny hop through Alaska and down. But I agree the process would not be easy--or even that likely. But in theory, it could work. I did say a boat would likely be better then that.

And I found a link

Ferrying Dash 8's!!

ETA:
Ferrying Company

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Singing in the Drizzle
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There are companies that also have aux fuel tanks that fit into the cargo space. The cost for them and the installation may make ferrying airplanes there still the way.
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Shrek_Daddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Singing in the Drizzle:
There are companies that also have aux fuel tanks that fit into the cargo space. The cost for them and the installation may make ferrying airplanes there still the way.

My Link above is such a company.

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"We keep finding better ways to celebrate mediocrity"---Mr. Incredible

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Delta-V
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quote:
Originally posted by GenYus:
Cheaper to ship maybe, but the assembly and disassembly costs would be quite high. I doubt many cargo ships exist that could fit a fully assembled 737, especially since many large cargo ships use containers that are only 40ft x 8 ft x 9 ft.

The 737 Fuselage isn't really that big, only 12'3" wide. We ship them from Wichita to Renton, WA by rail.
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However, it would take a very well-equipped aircraft heavy maintenance facility to put one together. Much easier to put in some temporary fuel tanks on it. Even something as small as a Cessna 180 has made the flight (Geraldine Mock's solo round-the-world trip). And the Cessna O-2A Skymaster was ferried from Wichita to Vietnam using additional fuel tanks in the cabin.

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Jason Threadslayer
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:
Also, the "range" of an airplane is based on a nominal passenger/cargo load plus a 45 minute (?) flight reserve (to make it to an alternate airport).

Close -- the FAA requires enough fuel to make it to destination plus an alternative plus 45 minutes more fuel.

Taking off from a low-lying airport will extend a plane's range.

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Jason Threadslayer
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Another way to ship an airplane.

[Smile]

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Troberg
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Ship by boat or use external auxillary tanks. Some aircraft can even take internal auxillary tanks.

You can also increase range a lot by going at a slower, more economic speed.

If you are really low on fuel, you can really save a lot by flying lower, at only a few feet (actually, the rule of thumb is that the maximum height is the chord of the wing) so that you remain in the ground effect, which gives additional lift. This is not something you would normally plan, except perhaps for some desperate military application (some variant of the Dolittle raid perhaps).

Military aircraft often have the option of inflight refueling, which can extend range indefinately.

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Gibbie
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I cannot get the Boeing site to work on my antiquated work browswer however, I did find this site with technical specs for all variants of the 737:

Boeing 737 Technical Site

This chart indicates that all models of the 737, save 737-100, which Wiki says is no longer in service, have a range of over 2500 nautical miles. Hero_Mikes distance of 4000k converts to 2100 nautical miles, so I would say that all 737s have the range needed to get to Hawaii from the West Coast.

Where's BoKu when you need him? [Smile]

Gibbie

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Hero_Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:
This chart indicates that all models of the 737, save 737-100, which Wiki says is no longer in service, have a range of over 2500 nautical miles. Hero_Mikes distance of 4000k converts to 2100 nautical miles, so I would say that all 737s have the range needed to get to Hawaii from the West Coast.

Thanks - I viewed something similar to this and saw that some early models did not have enough range. There must be considerable cost to removing seats and installing ferry-tanks inside the aircraft, but with the sheer size of a 737, extended range is not unreasonable.

I am, however, still curious how you can extend the range of a Dash-8 by 58%. Sure, the plane would be free of passengers, cargo, and even some interior fittings (like seats), but fuel isn't weightless. I'm sure it's still a neat trick.

Does anybody know how to find the nearest airport to Hawaii, big enough to service, say, a 737? Now I'm starting to question that 4000km minimum distance from the US West Coast, but I have no fancy maps.

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Gibbie
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Approximate Distances between Honolulu and Selected World Cities.

Looks like San Francisco is closest at 2390 miles, which by my calculations (I use Convert) is 3846.32 kilometers and 2076 nautical miles. The chart states air miles, but the distances are "regular" miles as it checks against another site with the LA distance on it.

Hero_Mike I wonder if you just underestimated the 737's normal range? There's a lot of airlines that use them for that length of a flight. I don't think you have to modify even an older one to get that range out of it. It has always been my understanding that this was a workhorse airplane capable of that length of flight. I believe that Southwest uses them exclusively, and even though Southwest does specialize in short flights, they do have some non-stop coast-to-coast service.

Gibbie

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BoKu
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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
...Does anybody know how to find the nearest airport to Hawaii, big enough to service, say, a 737? Now I'm starting to question that 4000km minimum distance from the US West Coast, but I have no fancy maps.

I'm guessing the closest airport might not be on the West Coast per se, but rather in the Aleutians. That's where Peter Garrison started from when he flew his little Melmoth from the US to Japan in one hop.
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Doug4.7
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quote:
Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:
Also, the "range" of an airplane is based on a nominal passenger/cargo load plus a 45 minute (?) flight reserve (to make it to an alternate airport).

Close -- the FAA requires enough fuel to make it to destination plus an alternative plus 45 minutes more fuel.
Thanks.

Maybe that is why we could not get our research aircraft to fly to within 15 minutes of no fuel... The pilot seemed to be rather insistent on NOT doing that.

These pilots and their silly rules.....

Like the time I wanted to slice up the keel of the aircraft (to put in one of my instruments). The pilot and mechanic seemed to object to that (something about the aircraft breaking apart in flight). [fish]

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And now for something completely different...

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Shrek_Daddy
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I found a neat site. It is all of the airports regulated by the FAA.

FAA Airport Directory

You can use it to calculate distances.

For example, Hilo to LAX is 2124.6 NM. Adak Island in the Aleutians was a little further (2156.6 NM). That is how I calculated the Midway approach as being feasible.

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Shrek_Daddy
Deck the Malls


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The answer straight from a pilot who does it:
quote:

We install in accordance with our STC, a long range ferry fuel system in the DHC 8 that gives us 12.5 hours of range. The distance from Oakland to Honolulu is 2100NM. We cruise at 250NM per Hour. There fore we can fly into a 40Kt headwind and still have legal reserves when we arrive in Hawaii.

Hope this helps.

Michael Bannock
Worldwide Aircraft Ferrying Ltd.

ETA to add quote marks

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"We keep finding better ways to celebrate mediocrity"---Mr. Incredible

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Hero_Mike
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:
Hero_Mike I wonder if you just underestimated the 737's normal range? There's a lot of airlines that use them for that length of a flight. I don't think you have to modify even an older one to get that range out of it. It has always been my understanding that this was a workhorse airplane capable of that length of flight. I believe that Southwest uses them exclusively, and even though Southwest does specialize in short flights, they do have some non-stop coast-to-coast service.

I'm quite sure that I had found ranges of under 2000nm for some versions of the 737, which seems to match with the 737-100 and your cite from Boeing.

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BoKu
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quote:
Originally posted by Shrek_Daddy:
...Hilo to LAX is 2124.6 NM. Adak Island in the Aleutians was a little further (2156.6 NM)...

Ah, my bad. I knew the distance from Hawaii to the Aleutians was shorter than it looks on a typical world map, but I guess it's still longer than to OAK or SFO.
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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Here is a nice pic of how an auxillary tank may look:

http://www.jkairys.com/english/planes_yak52.htm

It's on Jurgis Kairys' Yak-52, but similar solutions exist for many aircraft.

Btw, if you ever get a chance to see Kairys fly, do not miss it! This guy blatantly breaks the laws of physics and gets away with it. Incredible! When my father, who was a proffessional pilot with approx 20 000 flight hours, much of that in small aircraft at low altitudes, saw Kairys fly, he said: "I see what he is doing, but I can't understand how he moves the controls to do it".

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