162 votes
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Even after years of research, why are planes unable to keep passengers alive in case of a fiery crash?

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 ...
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57 votes

Even after years of research, why are planes unable to keep passengers alive in case of a fiery crash?

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 ...
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54 votes

What prevents a small plane like a Cessna or Piper from flying as high as a jet?

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 ...
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51 votes

Is it possible to fly a B-24 under Bixby Bridge?

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, ...
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45 votes
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Is the aircraft used by NOAA specially modified?

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 ...
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43 votes
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What is the biggest airplane that does not need a paved runway?

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 ...
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  • 98.5k
42 votes

What is the biggest airplane that does not need a paved runway?

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. ...
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42 votes
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Is it possible to fly a B-24 under Bixby Bridge?

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 ...
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38 votes
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What's the purpose of "over G" penalties in Red Bull Air Race?

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. ...
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38 votes

Is it possible to fly a B-24 under Bixby Bridge?

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 ...
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  • 481
32 votes

Is the aircraft used by NOAA specially modified?

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 ...
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  • 1,592
31 votes

Why can we not use full throttle in a C172 when cruising at lower altitudes?

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 ...
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  • 104k
29 votes

Why do airports have to close in bad weather?

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....
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28 votes
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Why is a 737 Original speed-restricted below 10 kft with inoperative windscreen heating?

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 ...
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27 votes

At what speeds can an airplane land?

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 ...
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27 votes
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What prevents a small plane like a Cessna or Piper from flying as high as a jet?

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 ...
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  • 57.8k
26 votes
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Can aircraft other than rockets go to space?

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 ...
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26 votes
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What is the maximum safe bank angle of a 747?

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. ...
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24 votes
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Is there a legal maximum altitude?

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 ...
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  • 10.3k
22 votes

Is it okay to take off with weight more than the POH max gross weight?

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 ...
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  • 49.5k
22 votes

Is it right to extend flaps only in the white arc?

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 ...
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  • 104k
21 votes

What is the biggest airplane that does not need a paved runway?

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 ...
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20 votes
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Why couldn't my aircraft depart fully fueled on a 44C day?

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 (...
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  • 1,502
20 votes

What is a Cessna 172's maximum altitude?

The absolute ceiling, or the maximum height an aircraft can fly to, is usually not published; manufacturers usually use service ceiling as the benchmark. Service ceiling is the maximum altitude which ...
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19 votes
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Why do airports have to close in bad weather?

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 ...
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  • 34.8k
19 votes

What is the biggest airplane that does not need a paved runway?

These oldies seem worth mentioning... If you loosen your definition of "airplane" to "the longest class of flying machine and the largest airship by envelope volume" you could think of a Hindenburg-...
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  • 405
18 votes
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At what speeds can an airplane land?

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "land" -- For our purposes I'll define landing as putting the aircraft on the ground and decelerating to taxi speed, while meeting the other requirements of a "...
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