First of all I would like to thank you for your website. It is very informative and I really enjoy reading your answers.
I would like to ask you a question and that is: I am traveling with Lufthansa in June. I have booked a ticket to fly on the 747-400. I looked online in several websites (PlaneSpotters, for instance) and I see the fleet they use for the itinerary is very old and most of the planes are between 21 and 23 years old. I have the chance to change my reservation (for 100 euro) to the later flight with the Airbus 340-300 also with Lufthansa.
I am a nervous flier and I have read age is an important factor in the safety of an airplane, due to, among other causes, metal fatigue.
What should I do? I also know the 747-400 is a noisier plane than the Airbus 340-300.
I also have the option to fly in the A380 with Lufthansa that same day but I felt a little insecure after the engine uncontained failure problem with the Trent 900 with Qantas.
Thank you so much for all your knowledge and thank you in advance for your time responding to our questions.
Greetings from Spain,
Lufthansa Airbus A340 departing Vancouver
The Boeing 747-400s may be older than the Airbus A340s - they all are equally safe. They are very reliable planes and have periodic maintenance checks.
Talking about age of planes – I once wrote on this about three years ago - see here.
“Firstly, how old can an airplane be considered as old? There was no consensus but manufacturers came up with a figure of twenty years as the intended economic life. Soon twenty years became the average age of US fleets. Today, manufactures and airlines refuse to agree on when old is too old because the life span of an airplane can be extended.
All aircraft components have a lifespan that is monitored very closely. When they are due for replacement, the components must be changed and the licensed aircraft engineers are under a duty to certify its replacement. Unlike a car where most people only replace a particular part when it breaks down, a fully serviceable component in an aircraft must be replaced when the life, measured in terms of hours are due.
Therefore, an older aircraft with new components after a major overhaul is almost just as good as ‘new’. Hence there is a reluctance to establish a definite age for a plane when it can be considered as a geriatric jet!”
As for me, if there is another choice like the Airbus A380, I would go on this newer and latest plane despite the engine problems which have been addressed by Rolls Royce and the operators.
If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here