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Short answer The kinetic energy involved in a plane crash is inhumanely high. Slightly longer answer We can built bombs which will go through concrete roofs and ceilings of a bunker, counting the number of floors they crash through while descending so they can explode at the level where the bad guys sit and not where the widows and orphans are kept. We ...


57

The principal reason plane crashes are less survivable, which nobody really seems to fully grasp when talking about airliners, is the sheer amount of energy inherent in a commercial airplane. When you watch a plane coming in for approach, especially a big one like a 747 or A380, it usually seems very docile, with the plane very slowly and gently approaching ...


53

We will take the case of an unsupercharged piston engine, as used in most small Cessnas and Pipers. All engines need the oxygen in air to burn their fuel. As an airplane climbs, the air thins out and so there's less oxygen available, so the engine can burn less fuel and so it produces less power. There then comes an altitude at which there's not enough power ...


51

A Liberator has wingspan of 34m, while the central span of the bridge is 110m wide, and 280ft high, so the aircraft will fit under the bridge. Bixby creek approaches the bridge from the north-east, with a straight-ish approach of about 0.3miles. Approaching low from the north-east, and dropping down into the creek at the earliest opportunity might allow ...


45

Except for modifications related to instrumentation, not much. The WP-3D was developed from the Lockheed P-3 Orion, which was a navalized L-188 Electra. Orion is a sturdy platform. Used during the Cold War as an antisubmarine patrol aircraft, the plane is built to take punishment. As the NOAA noted in a Reddit AMA The WP-3D is built like a tough old ...


43

Military transports are designed to be operated from unpaved runways- by extension, any of these converted to civilian use can operate from unpaved runways. For example, the Antonov Airlines operates a number of Antonov An-124 'Ruslan', which can and do operate from unpaved runways regularly. The Volga-Dnepr group specifically states: Multi-leg landing ...


42

The H-4 Hercules (Spruce Goose) should easily win this contest. That plane was ridiculously huge and, in fact, couldn't use a runway, rather it was a "flying boat" that took off from the the water. So I'd say it's the one... Granted, if you mean a grass or gravel strip aeroalias is probably correct. The only other major planes that I know were designed ...


42

Neglecting any potential power lines, I believe the manoeuvre is possible. I had to play around a little bit to get my simulation to work, though, showing that in real life, any attempt to underfly the bridge for real on the first try will be... risky. If I had to fly this for whatever reason, I would train the ground track at safe-ish altitude a couple of ...


38

It's a safety rule to protect the limits of the airframe and the pilot. See the video (also on youtube) from this Red Bull Air Race page which explains the rules. The G-limit is discussed from 3:30. The following is a quote from the relevant section of the video. Maximum load factor, that is how much G's is the pilot pulling. That has issues [...] the ...


38

Interesting... It looks possible under ideal conditions in a modern aircraft. (I attempted a basic simulated flight in google-earth flight simulator-vid below) Edit: The service cables mentioned in the other answer would also represent a substantial problem, but they were missing from the model. Assuming you can get through the gap, the main issue for the ...


32

The simple answer to your question is no - the aircraft is not structurally modified. However, to add some context to @aeroalias's answer, here is a great visualization of windspeeds at various altitudes**. At 1000hPa pressure altitude (approximately ground level) the scene looks like this (see Irma just over the Dominican) : Now if we go up to 500hPa ...


31

These engines are not designed to run at maximum horsepower output all the time with a lean mixture. They are designed to cruise at 50-75% of their rated max power, and deal with that level of internal heat and friction over the long term. Even this is fairly hard compared to a car that runs at perhaps 20% of rated power when cruising at 60 mph. Running ...


28

Wind The problem with wind is that it can be from any direction, not necessarily the direction of the runway. When the wind is coming from the side instead of straight ahead, it is called a crosswind. This means that landing aircraft have to point into the wind to remain lined up with the runway. The slower they are flying, the further to the side they must ...


28

Norwegian’s heat issues stem from an unusually high passenger capacity aboard the Boeing 787-8 jetliners that the carrier uses on its Las Vegas routes. Most airlines operate the plane with an average of 200 seats, but Norwegian puts 291 seats for sale on the 787-8 aircraft to keep costs down as part of its low-cost model. Given the weight of those additional ...


28

To reduce damage in case of a bird strike. The restriction is not only for the 737-100 and -200 models, the 737 NG QRH says: WINDOW HEAT OFF In flight: WINDOWS HEAT switch (affected window) ..... OFF Limit airspeed to 250 knots maximum below 10,000 feet. Pull both WINDSHIELD AIR controls. This vents conditioned air to the inside of the windshield for ...


27

And here, a Reference from Boeing's 737 FCTM (pdf). Ch2 for ground operations.


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Note: Much of this material, and more, is also covered in answers to the question: Can you fly a light GA airplane into a major hub? (Didn't know that at the time I wrote this answer.) Landing at higher than normal speed is not recommended. Tricycle gear airplanes require a nose-high attitude on touchdown in order to ensure the main gear touch down first. ...


26

Depends on what you mean. Get to high altitude? Yes you can. It is really inefficient to get there, but some aircraft already do it. Achieve a stable orbit and be able to maintain control? No, at those altitudes you do not have enough oxygen to keep your engines running, you have to bring your own (and thus use a rocket) For the sake of clarity, some ...


26

The descent angle helps to reduce the lift that the wing needs to provide, in two ways. It leads the aircraft into higher density air, where more absolute lift is possible at the same Mach number. That takes a while, but a more immediate effect comes from pointing the aircraft's nose downwards. Then, part of the gravity-induced forces can be counteracted by ...


26

What limits a small plane to be able to fly at a much higher altitude? Money. Power and lift on an aeroplane both decrease with increasing altitude, as shown in the image above, from my paper copy only old uni book of prof. Wittenberg. At 20,000 ft about 60% of take-off power is still available, at 40,000 ft about 35%. Solution 1: install a turbo From ...


24

A "Safety Alert for Operators" (SAFO 09004) from 2/11/09 says "Slow the aircraft to a fast walking speed on the centerline of the landing runway prior to attempting to exit the runway. Taxi at a fast walking speed until parked at the ramp or until aligned with the centerline of the runway for takeoff." Which, of course, isn't a regulation,...


24

There's no legal limit of how high you're allowed to fly by law: there's no law that says It is illegal to fly above X,000ft In some juristictions there are more specific laws, eg It is illegal to operate an unpressurised aircraft above 25,000ft However, each aircraft has a service ceiling when it is certified, and it would be generally illegal to ...


22

Metal fatigue is normally the limiting factor of an aircraft's lifespan. Fatigue cracks build up every flight (at start & landing), called a cycle. Therefore the design life of an aircraft is typically given in cycles. Metal fatigue cracks, source: Boeing For long haul aircraft, that make relatively few cycles, the design lifespan is in the order of 40 ...


22

Can you take off over gross weight? Yes, it's possible on any airplane, dependent on how far over the weight limit you are, the density altitude, how much runway you have, what obstacles are in the area and other factors. It's very easy to go above gross in a Cessna 152 with full fuel and 2 passengers, and probably happens more often than people realize or ...


22

Yes you must slow down to the white arc, or whatever your flap extension speed is for a given condition, regardless. If you are 10kts above the white arc and drop flaps anyway, it's not going to make the airplane come apart, and if you did it once, slap yourself on the wrist and don't do it again. It's putting stress on the flap attachments beyond what ...


21

"fundamentally unstable" but über-responsive aircraft have multiple computers that take a vote on everything the pilot wants to do. If one computer fails the others will take over. There is often no direct connection between the control column and the flight surfaces so the "no computer aid" situation would be the same as #2. If everything fails, the ...


21

It's not quite as big as the Antonov An-124, but honorable mention would have to go to the Lockheed LC-130. It's designed to resupply scientific and military operations in polar regions, and so it has a dual wheel-and-ski landing gear setup that allows it to take off from and land on snow and ice. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)


21

Short Answer Very high temperatures limit how much payload and/or fuel you can load on a plane. Engines To help you visualize it, in hot air the air molecules are more energetic, which means the engine will have hard time compressing hot air vs. cool air. Losing thrust. Wings Hot air—with the molecules spaced farther apart—has less density, which ...


20

There are two problems: First, at higher temperatures, the air is less dense; therefore there is less oxygen (by mass) in every cubic metre of it; therefore more air must be ingested by the engine (by volume) for the same quantity of fuel to be completely burnt. If the intake flow rate of air is fixed, then less fuel can be burnt and less power developed ...


19

Adding to what the others have mentioned, bad weather is often a combination of low visibility, low ceilings, precipitation, high winds and lightning. Visibility and ceilings As mentioned in @fooot's answer, ILS is available to land when in these conditions. Every airliner and crew (and just about every airport they'd go into) is trained and equipped for ...


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