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Today I flew with an Embraer 190 of Kenya Airways. Checking in the tech specs this aircraft has a range of roughly 2900 km. Considering it is built in Brasil, I was wondering how do they deliver it to Africa since they would have to cross the Atlantic Ocean which I suppose is more than 2900 kms of range it has available.

Do they add temporary tanks and, of course, by flying the aircraft empty get more range out of it?

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My guess is that they fly up near Greenland so that they never have a leg that long, but I'm not 100% sure of that. – Lnafziger Apr 14 '14 at 18:18
I answered your question without actually looking into the range of an E190, but according to the manufacturer's website, the range of the E190 is 4,400km, which will get you well into Africa from Natal, Brazil without tanks. gcmap.com/mapui?R=2400nmi%40sbnt&MS=wls&DU=mi – Yos233 Apr 14 '14 at 18:27
For the Greenland route the shortest leg of CYQX-BGBW-BIKF-EGPF is 1478 km. The runway at Narsarsuaq is not quite long enough for an E190 at maximum take-off weight, but the leg to Iceland is not the long one and you'd fly it with no payload anyway. – Henning Makholm Apr 14 '14 at 22:03
It's called ferry flying. This is related: What regulations surround fitting aftermarket fuel tanks inside the cabin? – Danny Beckett Apr 14 '14 at 23:39
@Superbest Mid-air refueling is expensive and I believe rather dangerous. It also requires an aircraft which is designed to allow it and experienced pilots. It's not really an option for commercial flight. – Nzall Apr 15 '14 at 8:37
up vote 33 down vote accepted

Sometimes they do add temporary tanks. Here's a picture of what Hawaiian Airlines had to do to get their fleet of 717's over the Pacific because they did not have the range.

I don't have the answer to your question specifically, but I would guess they either add temporary tanks and go from SBNT-GUCY which is not much further than max-range, or take the long haul through the US and Europe.

Relevant Links:

http://crankyflier.com/2012/08/30/how-do-airlines-deliver-airplanes-long-distances-ask-cranky/ http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/1159006/

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Out of interest how much fuel is there in those internal fuel tanks compared to what it would normally carry. I have no idea how much fuel a standard aircraft would take so wondering if that is 10% more or 100% more fuel... – Chris Apr 15 '14 at 9:00
I'm estimating each tank is 8ft by 4ft, which gives a total volume of 11,400L. Jet Fuel is measured by mass (0.81kg/L), which is 9220kg. That is approximately an additional 80% fuel capacity. – Yos233 Apr 15 '14 at 17:09
According to Wolfram|Alpha, that is about 1.5 elephants mass. Pretty heavy. – Yos233 Apr 15 '14 at 17:15
How did they fit those tanks through the aircraft's doors?! – shortstheory May 22 '14 at 4:00
What did they do with all the seats they had to remove?? – FreeMan Feb 10 '15 at 17:20

First of all, yes, there are tricks to get the aircraft fly farther. You can leave the payload out, this will allow you to fill all fuel tanks without reaching the maximum take-off mass. Less mass means less induced drag, so you can fly higher and at a lower fuel flow. It will also allow you to install temporary tanks to carry even more fuel than the aircraft was designed for. That is how small GA aircraft get transferred from the US to Europe.

This is a typical payload-range diagram with the three distinct points: Maximum payload, maximum fuel and transfer range with no payload.

This is a typical payload-range diagram with the three distinct points: Maximum payload, maximum fuel and transfer range with no payload. The slope between maximum payload and maximum fuel points shows how well the additional mass of fuel is converted into range (mostly due to engine efficiency), and the slope of the lower segment between maximum fuel and no payload shows how much the weight reduction increases range (due to induced drag reduction).

In jets and turboprops, you can use higher-density fuel (PDF) which gives you more energy per volume in order to get a few more percent of range. And if all fails, you can disassemble the aircraft and ship or fly the parts over. If the range is not sufficient, the plane will be small enough and will be designed for easy dis- and reassembly.

Bristol Belfast being loaded with JetRanger

Bristol Belfast being loaded with JetRanger (own work)

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extending the leg between max payload- max fuel (replacing the payload with fuel) that graph would get to ~13000 km – ratchet freak Apr 16 '14 at 9:43
@ratchet freak: Good remark! By adding tanks you can stretch the range to this point without exceeding the maximum take-off mass (almost - the tanks add some mass themselves). – Peter Kämpf Apr 17 '14 at 3:45

I flew in a brand spanking new Airbus A320 on its maiden voyage from Toulouse, France to New York about 13 years ago. We had to stop in Iceland and Newfoundland for fuel before heading to New York.

At Oshkosh every year (EAA Airventure) I hear about pilots crossing from Africa (the furthest western point) to the furthest eastern point of Brazil in a single engine small plane. So I'm betting the jet can easily make that crossing. They do have to put down at the first airport to get fuel. That flight is not one I'd care to do...

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The closest route I could find Africa-South America is GVNP..SBFN, which is 1242NM and that sounds like it's well out of range for any small GA piston single even with the cabin full of fuel. But I might be mistaken. Both are island airports with the shortest runway being 5900ft. Either way it's a pretty bad idea, even if you have the range when the winds are calm... :) – falstro Apr 15 '14 at 6:55
5900 is great for a decent sized jet. The runway at my home GA airport is 3800 feet and we have G5's coming in regularly. There's a few articles out there on small planes crossing the atlantic via Africa (I didn't say it was smart in a single engine :) Check out this 150 (very small piston) crossing the atlantic with an extra tank link The endurance record was set last year when a Lancair flew from Guam to Jacksonville Florida (7000 nm) Here's a link to the story: [link]eaa.org/news/2013/2013-03-05_long-distance-lancair.asp – DaBlue Apr 15 '14 at 11:30

An Australian company I used to work for purchased a Jetstream 41 turboprop off an American seller. With a range of only about 1400 kilometres, there was no chance of safely making it across the Pacific. So the ferry flight went through Canada, Alaska, Russia, right down through south Asia to northen Australia.

So the answer is, when they can't extend the range far enough, they'll go the long way!!

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Nice gig if you can get it. :-) – Marky Mark Mar 30 '15 at 0:07

I was chatting to one of the Pilots of Maldivian Air Taxi a number of years ago, who fly Canadian built Twin Otter's. He remarked that one of the more interesting jobs for that carrier was the "Overhaul flights". A few pilots spend almost all year ferrying their aircraft back and forth to Canada.

I don't remember the exact route but it involved lots and lots of stop-offs for fuel.

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