Selection of Aircraft

So, now we have the company and we are ready to go, so we should better get the most important thing too. The aircraft. The machines to actually make the money. There are so many different types it can be difficult to choose from. After all, this is a business simulation. So we want to make some money. That’s why I will go for some efficient types. Of course, you can also go with others (according to your personal preference), but be aware, that in most cases, older aircraft are less efficient and therefore less profitable.

Some experienced player might object, but of course, if you know exactly what you do, then it is not a problem. As a general advice for beginners, let’s keep it simple.

Aircraft Type Evaluation

There is a tool built in that helps you find the right aircraft. From the wave planning tool previously used, we can already get some hints as to what kind of aircraft we will need to start with.

As per our strategy, we want to connect Europe with the Far East. That means, we have to build a dense network to European destinations and pick up our passengers. We then want them to connect to a long-haul destination traveling to Asia. So we will also need some long-haul aircraft that can reach Asian major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo etc.

Now long-haul flights are a bit more difficult than short-haul. Most long-haul aircraft are big(ger) and therefore more difficult to fill. And long-haul flights are by definition, long. So with a regional aircraft, you have four to five different flights a day, for which you have a chance to attract some paying clients. For a long-haul flight, you normally have one to two flights a day. If those are empty, you will burn a lot of money.

To be in a better position to afford some errors in our route selection, we will start small and with regional flights only. Now this is a very important concept to understand in AirlineSim. Connecting flights. In AirlineSim, the demand is not on specific routes, but based on airports. Passengers want to fly from one airport to another and will pick a flight based on the various routes offered to them. The bigger the distance between two airports, the more likely it is, that there is more than one route on offer. Let's assume a passenger wants to fly from Helsinki to Madrid. There are many airports in between, and any European airline can offer flights between these two airports. As a Finnish airline, I'm not only competing with all airlines that offer a direct flight HEL-MAD but I also compete with all other airlines that fly the route HEL-XXX-MAD. With more competition, chances are that there are MANY possible routes a passenger can take. Some might be more or less on the straight line and have favorable (short) connecting times. Others might be a bit far off and less attractive, yet still, some passengers will choose that route. The allocation of passengers to routes is determined in the ORS (Database - Online Reservation System) and the score you get for your flight. We'll cover that at a later stage.

Now obviously, the shorter the distance, the fewer airports will be in between and as a result, the fewer possible routes will be available for your passengers to choose from. Therefore, the higher the chances for you to get passengers on your flights. This is why we start with domestic and short flights first.

AS Route Map Wave Planner for HEL

The wave planner shows a big red circle with a radius of 2,144km. That is what we can fly to three times a day and back. Now that means, for the time being we need an aircraft that can fly at least 2,144km (range) with a full cabin.

So, to increase our chances of success we will start with some small jets. If they fill, we can always get bigger aircraft. For the beginning it’s always easier to start small, cos those planes are easier to fill, and burn less money in case you don’t get the pax. So let’s have a look at some regional aircraft. There might be more, but have a look at the following available aircraft:

AS Aircraft Manufacturers

  • Canadair Regional Jets

  • EMB 170/175/190/195

  • Superjet

Please note, that there might be more regional jets, but they might not be available on all worlds. For simplicity, I will stick to these three families for the moment. Browse through the families, have a look at the different models available and compare their range, max. passenger capacities and the prices.

We can certainly put together an Excel list and then list our initial selection and prioritize them, but let’s have a look at the aircraft type evaluation tool in the game.

AS Aircraft Type Evaluation Link

It will help us find a suitable aircraft and get the most efficient type. Let’s have a look at a long flight within our range of destinations that we want to cover initially. HEL to MXP (Helsinki to Milan Malpensa). Let’s select some of the aircraft I have narrowed down for the start.

AS Aircraft Type Evaluation

The important column is the “per seat” one. It will tell you the cost per seat for a flight from HEL to MXP with that aircraft. The lower, the better, cos with the same ticket price, we will make a higher profit. The Superjet stands out, which is then followed by the E190 and the CR700. But also check the available seats. The Superjet has 100 seats to fill, the E190 even more, while the CR700 has only 78. So, the CR700 is easier to fill, but the absolute profit (with a full aircraft) is obviously smaller than with a Superjet. Play around and check the results with different seats.

Depending on what you will select for your aircraft, the results might change (slightly). Unfortunately the values here are not 100% correct. And you can’t select a specific configuration with multiple classes and it also doesn’t help if you’re looking for a cargo plane. But it will give you some hints as to which aircraft is definitely better than another, or if they are more or less the same. Then it doesn’t really matter which one you choose (like A320 or 737 is almost the same).

Also check your results for different destination pairs (short, medium, long) to validate that your preferred aircraft is always on top.

AS Aircraft Type Evaluation

As some aircraft have route restrictions (check the aircraft page) you might not be able to fly certain airport pairs with your choice. It could also be for a number of other reasons, like the runway is too short etc. So that’s why you want to check a few of your estimated top destinations.

AS Aircraft Route Restrictions

Range / Payload

Every aircraft can carry a certain payload over a certain distance. That’s visualized in the range/payload graph below. The left graph shows the Superjet 100-95 model, while the right one is for the Superjet 100-95LR model.

AS Range / Payload graphs

The base model on the left can carry some 12.5t over a distance of 2,000km. If you want to fly further, you will have to trade payload (passengers) for fuel. That means, you can take more fuel on your flight, but you then have to unload either cargo or passengers. This is on the middle of the line (between the two angles). Eventually, you will reach the maximum capacity of your fuel tank (last part of the line). Your aircraft is loaded up to the brim of the tank. If you want to fly further, you again have to unload payload, or your aircraft will not reach its destination. Note, that if you are on the last part of the line, you will not be able to use the speed override anymore.

In most cases, the manufacturers offer different models, to cater for different requirements. The LR (Long Range) model of the Superjet is a variant that caters for a higher payload over a longer distance. Here you can carry the full 12.5t over more than 3,000km. The total range is not much different, but you can carry more over a longer distance.

In AirlineSim in most cases though you will be better off with the "standard" model than a more capable version of the aircraft. Verify with the Aircraft Type Evaluation tool which type is the better option for your purpose.

To estimate the payload, you have to multiply the number of passengers in your cabin by 95kg (That’s the passenger plus their luggage). It’s a standard value used by most airlines. If your cabin has 78 seats, then if you want to fly with full cabin, you have to be able to carry 7,410kg of payload. Any cargo would come on top of that.

For the above example that means, the aircraft can carry the full 108 (max.) passengers plus 2,240kg of cargo (12,500kg - 108 x 95kg = 2,240kg). Now in most legacy worlds (see table above) you cannot carry any cargo in most smaller aircraft (the worlds with dynamic turnaround can). So for the Superjet, we don’t have to worry about the cargo option since my airline is on Ellinikon that does not have dynamic turnarounds.

In case you are flying a route where you get into restrictions about payload, then AS will first unload (or not even sell) cargo, then economy passengers, then business passengers and at last first class passengers (if you have a first class).

If you ever see that your aircraft does not offer its full capacity on a certain flight, then it is most likely that your flight is too long, or possibly that the runway is too short for your aircraft. This will also have a restriction on your payload.

AS Performance information

Have a look at the above example. The A320 cannot fly to LCY, or if, then only with an almost empty cabin (749kg of payload, or 3.5%). While the range is perfectly fine, the runway in London City is too short and therefore the aircraft cannot take enough payload (and still stop at the end of the runway).

Cargo / No Cargo

On newer game worlds with the dynamic turnaround feature you can choose whether you want to take cargo or not. If you opt for cargo, you can select whether you want bulk or container. While in general it is advisable to allow cargo, it can make your turnarounds considerably longer, especially with bulk cargo. If that is a restriction, and if you don’t have a lot of cargo anyway, then you might benefit to not take it, or you choose container only.

Containers are faster in terms of loading/unloading and speed up your turnaround times. But on the other hand, you loses capacity, as the container has a weight itself, and you might lose a little bit of space. Bulk cargo means all items are loaded individually. So a good ground handler can fit every last little space, but it will take more time to do so. Certain aircraft can only take bulk cargo (the famous 737 for example), so you either have the option cargo or no cargo if you operate this type.

You will find these options on the inventory page. You will also have the option to select terminals or remote stand for the passengers. While terminals are a bit more comfortable, the remote stands usually have a faster turn-around time, as more doors can be used by the passengers (if the aircraft has those doors).

New game world options

AS General settings in Inventory with dynamic turnaround

Game world options without dynamic turnarounds

AS General settings in Inventory without dynamic turnaround

For legacy game worlds there is no such option.

Purchase vs. Lease vs. Credit

When you start, always always go for leased aircraft. You are much more flexible. But most of all, you will not be able to afford a lot of purchased aircraft.

Leasing allows you to get most aircraft while being flexible. Yes, in the very long term you will pay more. But unless you have plenty of money and don’t know what else to do (read no more room to grow), then purchasing is an option.

Getting an aircraft on credit is also a bad option. You have to pay a down-payment, then you have to make a weekly payment to pay back the loan AND you also have to pay interest on the loan. Even at low interests of 1% that will cost you quickly more than what a leasing fee would be.

New vs. Used

Since we will get new aircraft delivered immediately, we don’t necessarily have to look at the used market (though you still should). If you have made your choice of what aircraft you want to start with, go and check the cost of the new aircraft.

AS Price new aircraft

A Superjet will cost us AS$ 140,000 per month in leasing fees. Let’s have a look at the used market and see if we can get some bargains.

AS Used market

There are some that cost considerably less than the AS$ 140,000 but are also already 2.4 years old. But there’s a 0.2 year old that is already at a discounted AS$ 132,336. We save some AS$ 7,500 per month and also save some AS$ 75,000 on the deposit. That almost pays for the cabin already. Let’s bid on this one. I will leave the others, as I rather have a new one as the price difference is negligible. So I bid for 5 more new ones. Note, that if you order 5 (or any increment of 5) or more aircraft, you will get a small discount. The max discount is at 50 aircraft at once.

AS Volume discount

Thanks to the immediate delivery program, we have now 5 Superjets in our fleet ready to go (and one more to come if our bid on the used market is successful).

AS Fleet management

In general, you will have to wait for new aircraft being delivered. If you order a couple of new aircraft that can be quite annoying having to wait. And with the Tupolevs, it can literally take forever. The used market usually delivers an aircraft within an hour (unless somebody else bids on the same aircraft). So that helps to grow faster.

In the used market will find aircraft from the AirlineSim-Leasing company AS Official Offer visible with the “official offer” tag. This is a safe option as AS will not cancel any leases as long as you pay the lease fee.

There are also offers from private leasing companies (other players). Here you face the risk that the other player will cancel a lease, but on the other hand, you might get a really nice bargain. My advice is, if you find a private lease that you like, send that player a short mail. You will be better able to judge the risk of having your lease cancelled.