What aircraft to get
first of all, you need to keep in mind, that aircrafts are sorted into maintenance categories. You can find the maintence category on the aircraft information page. The number is only an index and does not represent any costs associated with it. However, operating four or more maintenance categories increases the overall maint. costs by 15% per additional category. This might sound a lot, usually it isn't too bad if you go for a fourth category, however, you should keep it in mind, as the fifth might be well-considered and the sixth most certainly starts to hurt.
there are aircraft families like the A318/319/320/321, same for B73X, CRJs, etc. This allows you to operate aircrafts of various sizes without having to add an extra maintenance category. This might come in handy, but only if you can actually utilize the variety. There are one or two examples that I would never use because the smaller variants are simply way too in-efficient.
Compare aircraft types
based on my experience, there are certain a/c types I almost always role with. However, you can basically run every a/c type profitable, if it fits the route profile and you get it at the right price. For the beginning, I will name the broadly accepted "best aircraft types". you can always take the time and look for alternatives, though.
I recommend starting with one category. so, as you are probably aware, you should start with national routes. that means, your longest route won't be more than 1000km tops. Since you might want to use the same category (depending on your choice) for later routes to regional destinations, the maximum distance for the first aircraft category might be higher. now, use the aircraft type evaluation to compare different aircrafts. Only take the values displayed as a reference, but not at true value, as it does not reflect your actual utilization, your actual leasing rate, your seating config, .... however, it gives you an idea of how aircrafts perform relatively in regard to costs per seat.
I suggest, you also compare different a/c types within an a/c family to see how they are doing. It's not good to choose a family for a larger range or higher seating capacity, if the smaller versions aren't economically sound.
something else to consider when choosing an a/c type is its popularity with the pax. Also available on the a/c info page, there is a rating. Generally speaking, newer models, wider cabins and jet engines are more popular. for instance, Dash Q 400 has 2, CRJs have 4 and E-Jets 5., I think. Better check that.
You also might want to keep in mind the a/c performance. When operating out of a remote location or when you have a lot of smaller airports in your country, you will notice, that some of them have very short runways. On some of them, you might not be able to depart with jets. Even if that is not the case with the bigger airports in your new home country, your airline will grow and you will eventually want to connect the smaller and remoter destinations as well, as transfer pax will fill your aircrafts. Information on rwy length is available on the airport info page, required ground roll for landing and take-off is available on the aircraft information page. This value obviously depends on the take-off-weight ( TOW ). So the easiest way to see if a particular a/c can fly a particular route is by using the performance check tool linked to the a/c info page. Make sure to check the return flight as well, as the values differ for landing and taking off ( t/o ).
With the performance check, you can also check the flight times for a certain routes as well as the turn around times at the destination airports.
FYI: turn around ( t/a ) depends on aircraft size and airport size. So an E195 will always have the same t/a at a "major airport" and always the same - but different - t/a at a farm track. Right now, the number of seats of an aircraft does not influence that value, but it will be implemented at some point in the future.
Another important information regarding a/c performance: right now, the fuel consumption is unrealistic in AS, as it only takes the distance into account, no matter the TOW, meaning: an empty 777 would burn the same fuel (and thus money) as a full 777, and here, no matter the number of seats you are actually using. This also applies to fuel load, as the calculation is always based on MTOW (max TOW). This, too, will change with the new aircraft performance system, however, I do not expect that new system to be implemented into old gameworlds for quite awhile, if at all.
So, planes are usually operated most economically, if you try to make route length and maximum flight distance ( with regard to your seating config) meet.
Keep in mind, those might be terrible choices for you. Either your route profiles do not match and alternative types might have a better per-seat-cost than those standards, or those types are not available on the UM. Also, aircraft types that do not look appealing in the aircraft type evaluation, they might be quite profiteable, if there are good offers on the UM. You can make a real deal here.
- Dash Q400: pretty fast for turboprobs, but I would not use them beyond 1000km, maximum 1500km, as they loose too much time relatively to jets. However, on shout routes, they are great, as the very short turn around time (20 minutes on many airports) more than makes up for the lower speed. Since I am facing little to no competition in Venezuela on gatow, that is my choice for national traffic.
- CRJ 700-1000: good choice for everything up to 2500/3000 km, depending on range. offers 78 t0 104 seats. Personally, I do not use the 100 and 200 versions as the per seat costs are too high for me. but if you wanted to, they go down to 50 seats (all capacity information are maximum capacity. Since you will be using better seats, you will never reach them).
- Embraer Regional Jets 170-195: I have only started using them last year, but I love them. They have great performance, offer a capacity of 80 through 124, the LR versions can fly up to 4000 km (that allows to reach most of the US from CCS).
other standard aircrafts are: B73X family, A319-321 family (they are pretty much tied and basically have the same in cost-per-seat performance depending on your route profiles). Be aware of different speeds and turn around times depending on size. Will be important if you want to chance to smaller or bigger capacity later on. actually, a lot later on).
787 for long distance. However, I tend to use the A330s and A340-600 for longhaul a lot, because you can often get them inexpensively from the UM.
why you don't want to go big
now, there is something else to keep in mind, which will explain, why you should not look for anything bigger than an E195 right now.
Apparently, AS isn't the reality. When it comes to demand distribution, it is benefical to operate smaller aircrafts. The reason being:
AS distributes demand on flights based on the "online reservation system (ORS)"-rating. It's basically a price-performance ratio. All flights that reach their destinations within the next 72 hours are being considered, distribution is generaly assumed (AS never directly comments on that) to be done proportionally. So, if there are only two flights available and both have the same rating, both flights will get the same number of pax assigned until one or both of them are full. So if there are 100 pax total, flight A has a capacity of 50 and B of 100, both get 50 pax. For A, that is great, because it is now full, for B not so much.
Of course, there a more available connections in AS, however, you catch my drift. It is easier to fill a smaller plane. And while bigger planes have better economics, they do you no good, if you can't fill them.
Also, let's assume, you alread have a long haul route to somewhere. You can now either operate a single A321 with 200 seats as a feeder or 3 Dash Q 400 with 70 seats. The ORS will now look at the available connections. In the case of one A321, that will be exactly one connection: the A321 and the longhaul flight. With 3 Dashs, you will have a total of three available connections and they are all going to be booked as if they were operated by different airlines. So, assuming the ORS ratings are the same, you will get three times as many pax on your long haul flight, as it will be booked three times rather than once; one time for each feeder flight.
two things counter-act that benefit: one is the already mentioned higher per-seat-costs of smaller aircrafts, the other is slot availability at your hub and at other airports. If you are the only operator in your country, you are basically your only competition for slots there. You might want to use bigger aircrafts to airports with strong slot restrictions.
You really should not start as a cargo airline as an unexperienced player. not only is the demand situation very different to pax, but all pax carriers tend to offer CU capacities as a "byproduct", thus posing as competition.
As a pax carrier, you might want to keep the CU capacities of different aircraft types in mind.
Let's say you decide to start with turboprops, you don't carry any cargo units (CU). When, at a later point, you start longhaul flights, all your flights will offer CU but there won't be any connections available. Personally, I calculate flights without cargo anyhow, so any sold CU is additional profit. This will show differently on the flight income statement
When using E-jets and CRJs for regional routes, you won’t offer CU capacity. Out of the “standards”, only B73X and A319-21 families and bigger do unless you specifally use a cargo version of one of the smaller.
On gatow, my caro load factor (CLF) isn’t that great - around 60%. I offer 0% connection, only random ones to the Northwestern US and South America, where destinations are beyond the reach of an E195 AR.
That, however, is profit wasted.
so, if you have decided on an airport and a server, you should think about what aircraft type to use.
when you have done that, check the UM for good offers. I personally do not operate aircraft older than ten years, as maintence costs then start to rise and they are way less popular with pax. I always aim for less than 5 years average fleet age. Regarding age, the average fleet age is considered for ORS ratings, not the one of a single aircraft.
if you do not or can not order a/cs from the UM, lease new planes. The delivery rate is being displayed on the a/c info page. It's not influenced by other airlines' orders.
do NOT purchase on credit. The interest is incredible high and will eat you alive. There are scenarios where this option is viable. Please refer to the msg board in this regard.
ordering your first aircrafts
The UM uses a bitting system. Simply start the processing by clicking the "lease" option, then a count-down will begin. It is one hour and will be re-started once somebody else bids on the a/c. That usually doesn't happen, thou, if enough of the type are available. Aircrafts become available in minutes after the auction has ended.
If you order a/cs as new, the delivery time depends on the manufacteuring rate as displayed on the a/c info page. So 1/21 means one per 21 hours. This is independend from other airlines' orders. There is also an "immediate delivery program" in place to help you getting started faster. It basically means: until you have a/cs with a total value of 10 mio, new a/cs are available to you right away. anything you get from the UM is also factored in here but still only received after the auction has ended.
And two last things I always forget
- you will need to pick a maintenance provider. there is room for optimization if you are more expericed, but at the beginning, I would go with Helvetic-
- go to "game settings" and de-select the comfort functions, particularly "automically assign seat config". you will not use the default seating config that would otherwise be generated for you, but you would still have to pay for it upon delivery, if this setting isn't deactivated. It is a waste of money.
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