Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : November 2009 Contents 23
NOVEMBER 2009 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
for ward. ere's not a huge amount that's
different between the 321 and the 320.
Tech crew need to do a couple of sectors
of line training to focus on differences in
handling and weight and balance.
"From an operational perspective, the
ability to have tech crew cross-trained
makes it a good option for us to deploy it
easily and flexibly."
Similarly, from an engineering perspec-
tive, the introduction of the A321 has
not been too difficult thanks to the large
amount of common parts. "We had to
do some differences training which we
conducted in house for our certifying
engineers," said Chris Snook, Jetstar's chief
engineer. "It's all common, so from our
point of view, other than the training and
a slight increase in provisioning it really
carries across well."
Snook added that the only major changes
between the two aircraft are to parts such
as landing gear, which on the A321 is
strengthened to carry the additional weight.
As with the A320s, the A321s are pow-
ered by IAE V2500 engines. Snook says
that this allows it to use the spare engines
across both fleets with minimal changes
required. "Although the thrust rating of
the engine is different, we can up-thrust or
down-thrust our spare engines," he said.
Still, some of the initial challenges of
having a newer aircraft in the fleet con-
tinue to be ironed out. "We're somewhat
restricted in where we can deploy this.
You have to get certification for where you
can operate the aircraft to, and so we're
doing that bit by bit, growing where we
can deploy the A321," said Davies. "You
obviously have to have ground staff and
equipment at the ports which are able to
handle the aircraft."
ere are some challenges in schedul-
ing where the aircraft goes, according to
executive manager of network and strat-
egy Vincent Hodder. "We really like the
aircraft, and from an operating cost per
seat perspective, it's a very effective vehicle
on certain rotations," he said. "But as a low
cost carrier there are a few things that are
really important to us in terms of the sim-
ple nature of our operation that the A321
doesn't necessarily help us with."
Like the A320s, the A321s feature
containerised baggage and freight to help
speed up the turnaround times. However,
with the greater number of passengers,
the A321s take 40 minutes to turn instead
of the 30 minutes taken to turn an A320.
Further, at some ports the A321 cannot use
the rear door for boarding. "Without rear
door boarding you really struggle to board
passengers," noted Davies.
As a result, the productivity of the A321
fleet in terms of sectors per day is slightly
lower than the A320. Hodder explains that
this presents a challenge should one of
the A321s be substituted for an A320. "In
terms of switching backwards and for-
wards, if we operate those routes some days
with a 320, it means that inefficiency hits
the A320 fleet as well."
e higher capacity also means that an
additional cabin crew member has to be
carried. "We get excellent efficiency on a
per cabin crew basis operating four cabin
crew on the A320. When you go to five
on an A321, it's a minor difference but
the number of passengers to cabin crew is
slightly less," said Hodder.
Davies notes that cabin crew also have to
undergo some differences training before
deploying on an A321 service. "It's primari-
ly about emergency procedures because it's
got a different seat map and door," he said.
Nevertheless, the aircraft has been able
to find a valuable niche, particularly on
some of the longer domestic routes in the
network where frequencies are fewer. It has
also proven useful on some shorter routes
including Melbourne-Gold Coast where
the additional capacity has allowed Jetstar
to add incremental capacity without adding
However, there are some routes on which
the aircraft are unlikely to ever feature, de-
spite the appeal of the additional capacity.
"For a low cost carrier it's suited to longer
routes with a small number of turns," said
Hodder. "It would be a fantastic aircraft to
operate on a Melbourne-Sydney because
you can load it up at peak times. e real
issues with it are the passengers, particu-
larly getting them on and off in the right
From October 25, the A321 fleet is now
primarily operating on longer, low rotation
domestic routes such as Melbourne-Cairns
and Melbourne-Perth, although it has
been retained on some services to the Gold
Coast from Melbourne and Sydney.
e aircraft is also set to roll out on the
airline's growing international network,
including on its Cairns-Dar win-Singapore
and Melbourne-Darwin-Singapore services
where the additional capacity and range
hold great promise. e A321s have also
been identified as the aircraft to operate
Jetstar's proposed Sydney-Nadi services,
which pending government approval, could
start in April 2010.
"It's very effective for short international
flying and longer domestic routes, but you
will continue to see it focused on longer
routes rather than shorter routes," said
With more purchased and leased A321s
due to arrive in the coming years, the type
looks to play an increasing role in Jetstar's
expanding route network, particularly as it
strengthens its push into Asia and possibly
the South Pacific, despite the challenges it
has thrown up for the low cost carrier. n
FIRST OF TYPE Jetstar's first two A321s, delivered in April 2008, were previously operated by Spirit Airlines
in the US, with the second aircraft, VH-VWY delivered in this all white scheme. (Mehdi Nazarinia)
FAMILY TIES At 213 seats in Jetstar's all-economy configuration, the A321 offers 36 more seats than
Jetstar's A320s. Pictured recently at the Gold Coast are a Jetstar A321 and A320. (Paul Sadler)
Links Archive October 2009 December 09 Navigation Previous Page Next Page