When the margins get tough, efficiencies are crucial. Whether in airlines, fighting a war or maximizing company and logistical assets.
Problem is efficiency are common and occasional quite frustrating to the Airline Industry, it is a matter of survival, literally. Let us take the “Quick Change Concept” for Commercial Aviation. Recently in Dayton OH the seminar about quick-change problems revealed the inability to adapt such concept to make the most of resources. We believe in efficiencies obviously.
Air Mail has been going on for as long as Commercial Aviation has existed when in Wichita Kansas “Commercial Aviation” was born. Aircraft make good tools for moving freight fast. The first multiple purpose aircraft, which could move people and freight and go from one to the other was the DC-10. Calling it a Convertible concept
Where seats could be removed and then it was able to be used for cargo. The DC-6C also was made convertible, but was not really a huge hit. The DC-8 also has some convertible Aircraft uses;
The DC-10 came about when American Airlines put out to bid an aircraft which was roomy like the 747, but could maneuver in tight areas and fly on older runways with less take off space and need to be airborne faster. Also AA wanted a plane, which could carry 250 people.
Both Lockheed and McDonald Douglas decided to meet the offer. The Lockheed Aircraft of course was the L1011. The L1011 sold just about as many as the DC-10 for passenger flight. Eastern, TWA, Delta bought and loved the L1011 as did pilots and those who were scared after some crashes with the DC-10. Even so the US military bought the 10 and used it for flying gas stations, troop and cargo carriers and the airlines bought 30 convertible aircraft and later the Military seeing that Airline industry was cyclical decided to offer incentives when airlines bought DC-10s which could also be used as cargo planes in times of war. That was great until one aircraft had a cargo door come off at altitude and cause all the passengers and aircraft to crash.
In more recent times many 727s and 737s were built to be convertible under the theories of “Quick Change” where aircraft were used during the day for passengers and the seats taken out at night for cargo, then back again every day. This made it easy for airlines to lease their aircraft out at night. Sounds like a wonderful idea to save money, pay for aircraft and maximize utilization. The change over could be accomplished in 2-3 hours or so.
And their have been many different combos called such things as “Combo-Aircraft.” Combo Configurations, Convertible Aircraft and Quick Change Aircraft. Some of the Europeans called them Rapid Change Aircraft. In Rapid Change Aircraft used pallet type seating, although it is doubtful that the average passenger would see that they were sitting on one of four seats per pallet, but that is exactly what they were doing. Israel Aircraft Industries still do this with Jacob Netz. They use the 737 SF. Some turbo Props with regional airlines still do this with C235, DHC 8 –100 and –300s. Also the C-17 and ATR 42/72. even the Russians have been doing this for some time with their Ukraine Antonov 74. The newer Boeing 737-700 w/Cargo can quick change to a 149 passenger airline or 41,420 lbs. On eight pallets
The US Navy also has some 737-700s C-40 with Quick Change Configuration. One company working with these airlines is Pemco, which seems to be one of the experts in the area of “QC-Quick Change.” The problems of course come into play when a different company runs the aircraft at night running freight while the other company owning the aircraft flys people during the day.
What is the biggest problems are include aircraft not reaching its next day departure airport due to weather. Problems in damage during freight operations. Excessive wear on interiors, since the freight would fly one way and then load interior for passengers, leaving the other interior at the other airport. Of course once the interior is out it is much easier to clean while out of the plane without the worry of mold forming. Mold issues have been manipulated by class action attorneys lately and when you are exchanging the interior in the middle of the night or on a dewy morning, expect some issues.
Problems also occur when or if the aircraft is diverted because of weather to a third airport where no interior is located. Meanwhile first flight the next morning gets cancelled and scheduling gets screwed up and people are upset and the finicky consumer cannot accept this, they have places to be and things to do. An airline in BK or stressed to make payments on the aircraft may have no choice and have to do this program of airfreight at night. It works better when it is the same company, but many times there is no choice. Such quick solutions are usually ill thought and fail, but work short term to get the airline over a hump in a cyclical sector rotation. These time periods due to fuel costs, economic conditions are the bust years for airlines and they must make it through them to make big money on the boom years, if you look at the current fuel prices we will see Bankruptsies anyway in the Airline Sector and many have not fully recovered from previous situations after 9-11. Having a father involved in the Deregulation, and airline for some 20 years after leaving military aviation, it is more real than you can imagine.
In other countries and specifically China and Europe this concept is much more widely accepted and expected to help pay for the aircraft while their markets are more cost competitive for freight. If you will recall Nippon Express, DHL wars and Federal Express. Some much larger aircraft are used for this over there. BA has had many tries at this concept and is currently running a few aircraft in this fashion.
The US Military has aircraft such as the C-17 can carry 102 troops, or be used as a hospital with 54 patients, three helicopters, three tanks or 40 airdrop containers. What we see is a need in aircraft to be multi-use for missions. Some such as the KC-10 can carry people, cargo, or even fuel tanks, or some of each or all of one. This is a completely smart way to run logistics and complete tasks without the huge number of hibernated aircraft sitting and rotting in the desert. Many times components and changes can be made possible by several aviation companies. Even the idea of fighting fires using military aircraft such as C-130s using systems such as AFFS-Modular fire fighting systems is a great example of the need for convertible aircraft.
Now I want everyone to understand that this thought process is my example of my next point. My major point of course is that I believe we can do more with less, faster with the latest computer decision matrix and real time 4-D imaging and respond to threats as fast as they occur and turn off the problems before the get full blown by studying the needs and logistical flows and disruptions prior to the signal. Kind of like preventing an imploding vortex in a hydro-electric power plant or turning off a switch sending a signal at the speed of light before the entire signal has started, simply by using the disruption caused by the event to signal in advance the need to turn it off.
You can solve the worlds problems by watching flows and needs, staying efficient and adapting your strategy for crisis management and continually improving your finite capacity scheduling model to win the missions goals while simultaneously being prepared to take advantage of opportunities when everything appears to be in perpetual Chaos.
All Military equipment no matter what agency should be multi-use whenever possible, without regard to personal egos of any particular agency or inner fighting between Army, Navy, Air force, Marines, Coast Guard or other. Even the DEA, FBI, Border Patrol and now under umbrellas of Homeland Security should be streamlined to pursue such a pattern of operations when ever possible.
Why? Because it leaves us the money to do more R and D and afford more things necessary to accomplish additional and ever increasing missions of public safety. Why am I so intent on this theory? Because I see it in business and because it works. Take Fed Ex as a perfect example, no waste. A pilot will also load a container and a manager will also drive a delivery truck if needed, thus no wasted labor.
We need to have depots in key positions and even in other countries with warehoused equipment. For instance a Humvee is a universal tool. Once used it should be completely cleaned and put in storage in a warehouse. The vehicle should be totally universal no matter what is to be attached. For instance an ELF antenna, 50 Cal Machine Gun, GPS System, whatever can installed rapidly and the hook ups are all the same for all agencies and universal. Plug and play components always using the same adapters, like a PCMIA card slot, USB Port, Parallel Port. Like a 110V outlet in a house or a garden hose thread. Since the DOD has got smart and logistically looked at Wal-Mart Distribution for answers with RFID Chips why not go to the next step? Why waste efficiencies? Economies of scale are what won WWII. Bar coding and satellite pinging GPS location positioning will make it easy to know where each piece of equipment is at all times, anywhere in the world.
It is now possible to keep control of every piece of equipment in the entire military and once all components are the same, then any department can use them, plus once everything is standardized the Microsoft way, the economies of scale come into play and that means cost savings on contracts. It means universal systems, it means easier training and even privatized training. The person no matter what agency department or rank can be trained to use certain types of equipment, most in a simulator department. Such as driving a truck, Humvee, SUV, Generator, Computer, etc. Then when he, she or it needs to learn the specialty stuff that can be done as per local protocols of the Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard they can do that after wards. This means better training on the basics and specific training on the components. You see?
The most excellent factor in this is the basic life skills such as driving, computers, driving a truck are of value in the civilian force. I like this idea since in any given year 50,000 – 250,000 leave the military for civilian life. Wouldn’t it be great to know that a more disciplined workforce was also able to get work faster thus higher quality people might join our volunteer military. Also the issues with unskilled labor being complained about in places like AZ, NM, CA, GA, MS, LA, TN, FL and even CO might be ended. If you look at the globe and see the most likely future problems and safest and most friendly trading partners you can already see we have bases and areas to do such storage with adequate logistical infrastructure such as shipping, rail, large run ways to rapidly deploy equipment without duplication for each squadron, battalion, division, team. Certain items are specialty, but for most things they just need a troop carrier, Humvee, vehicle, etc. And they can have it faster and we can deliver the same number of units without having all the units or have to replace all the units.
Hibernation services contracts can be awarded to keep everything totally operational ready. We may have to pay more for these services than prior prime contractors have bid to make sure it is done correctly with no hiccups, but in the end we will have saved billions and we can re-invest our savings on the latest materials and R and D on the latest technologies. The delivery system, warehouse systems, standardization and commitment to work together is the key. We can do this and it could be done with simple components first and eventually with nearly everything.