131 votes
Accepted

Why do airlines follow these routes between Barcelona and Düsseldorf?

Large parts of France's airspace are designated military training areas. If there is military flight training going on, the choice of routing over France is very limited. The only option is to fly ...
  • 77.1k
120 votes
Accepted

Why do all commercial aircraft have carpets?

helps prevent slips and falls contains spills (your spilt soda won't ruin your neighbors bag) more easily removed and replaced helps reduce cabin noise
  • 3,761
107 votes
Accepted

Does the sterile cockpit rule mean flight attendants could not inform the pilots if a passenger is in the lavatory while on final?

"Sterile Cockpit" refers to the concept that pilots should not discuss anything not related to the flight during certain phases of flight (often defined as below FL100). A passenger occupying the ...
106 votes
Accepted

Why did this FedEx flight (FDX1311) take such an indirect route multiple times?

Purpose FDX1311 is a daily scheduled flight, called a flying spare, or more colloquially a sweeper. It's a provision to remedy unplanned events which would otherwise prevent customers shipments to ...
  • 68.6k
103 votes

Why are there no "sleeper" planes?

There certainly are; it's called "Business Class" and you'll find such areas with seats that recline into what are essentially beds on most long-haul aircraft. However, you simply can't fit as many ...
  • 2,375
81 votes

Why are First/Business Class seats at the front of aircraft where it is the least safe?

There are several reasons: First In, First Out They are given precedence to board the airplane before others, and precedence to disembark the airplane before others too. Quieter Environment On ...
  • 29.3k
67 votes
Accepted

Why was my flight cancelled due to bad weather while other flights were not?

In general, flights get cancelled when arriving flights are delayed or themselves cancelled. Your flight needs three critical things to depart on time, or at all: an airplane, flight + cabin crew, ...
  • 23.2k
63 votes
Accepted

Why are there no "sleeper" planes?

They just don't really fly them any more. All things considered history has a big impact on this. 13 hours is by comparison fairly short when it comes to long distance flying, historically speaking. ...
  • 98.1k
62 votes
Accepted

Why don't airliners use in-air refueling systems?

Fuel Quantity Unlike smaller fighter jets, you would need to offload a substantial quantity of fuel. For a B777, you're looking in the range of 60 tonnes of fuel for half a tank. The boom of a KC-135 (...
61 votes

Does the sterile cockpit rule mean flight attendants could not inform the pilots if a passenger is in the lavatory while on final?

"Sterile cockpit" doesn't mean abject silence; it means no idle chitchat. An issue relating to the safety of passengers is not idle chitchat, so it can be discussed at any time during the flight.
59 votes
Accepted

What precautions prevent 'insiders' from stealing a large aircraft, as in the Horizon Air Q400 incident?

As an aircraft mechanic at a major airline, I think I can answer this pretty well. It wouldn’t be hard at all. All I have to do is wait for an aircraft move. This could be to bring a plane into the ...
  • 2,373
58 votes

Why do pilots do walkaround inspections for regularly scheduled commercial flights instead of aircraft mechanics?

Because it's the Captain's plane, for all intents and purposes. This is exactly the same for many other industries - in particularly shipping (as in boats) and haulage (as in trucks). Similar to ...
  • 8,890
57 votes

Why do airlines retire the flight number after a crash?

consider if you Google a flight number you can see the flight status, imagine if the number was from a past crash, you might for a moment think the one you're looking up had crashed
  • 651
57 votes
Accepted

Why would the cabin crew spray the cabin before landing?

The sprays are (usually) insecticides used to prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases. The process of ‘disinsection’ is required under the International Health Regulations of the World ...
55 votes

Why are there no "sleeper" planes?

I have flown in sleeper class with British Airways flying overnight from Toronto to LHR. It was an expensive luxury which started out great, but when fully reclined the bed is not exactly flat and, ...
  • 4,846
55 votes
Accepted

Is the seat-belt sign activation when a pilot goes to the lavatory standard procedure?

In the US they do very similar theater when a pilot needs to relieve himself. There is an announcement that nobody is allowed to come forward, and grim looking flight attendants are blocking the ...
  • 10.7k
53 votes
Accepted

Why does the headset man not get on the tractor?

The "headset man" is a wing walker, and he is there for a reason - he is not just someone who needs a ride to where the aircraft is being pushed to. Essentially, he is an extra pair of eyes for the ...
53 votes
Accepted

Why do cargo airlines frequently choose passenger aircraft rather than aircraft designed specifically for cargo?

Price, commonality, and size choice. A very large proportion of an aircraft's cost is in design and certification. It's followed by the engines, the avionics, and the fuselage. Not much cost can be ...
  • 18k
52 votes
Accepted

How are duplicate call signs dealt with?

The scenario you're asking about is common. Let's say that your Delta 158 from South Korea to Detroit is running several hours late, and the decision is made to operate the A320 DTW-BOS on time. ATC ...
  • 45k
50 votes

Why not use radio to communicate with ramp marshall instead of marshalling signals?

There are several good reasons: Hand signals are actually very easy to learn. Reacting to a visual signal is instinctive and doesn't require knowledge of any spoken language. Batteries don't run ...
  • 21.7k
48 votes
Accepted

What is the purpose of a walled area in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport?

It allows them to do a run-up test of the engines without blowing debris at other parked aircraft, people, or things on the ground. [Credit to Ralph J] The walls have a structure that allows the ...
  • 35.8k
47 votes
Accepted

How do airlines replace a pilot at the last minute if they're unable to fly?

The airplanes can't depart without the minimum crew, which means 2 pilots, or 3 if there is a Flight Engineer. The airlines have "Reserve" and "Ready Reserve" types of duty to ...
  • 117k
46 votes
Accepted

Could airliners use a steam or electric powered catapult for take-off?

Let's see what the savings are: A mid-sized airliner carries maybe 20% of its mass in fuel. This fuel has an energy density of 43 MJ per kg. Of that chemical energy at most 40% is converted into ...
43 votes
Accepted

Why are First/Business Class seats at the front of aircraft where it is the least safe?

Farhan did an excellent job explaining the answer from a creature comfort perspective, but let me explain why from the standpoint of safety and public perception of said safety. Firstly, the ...
  • 23.9k
43 votes
Accepted

Why does an airplane captain sit in the left seat?

There are several reasons, mostly historical, or theories behind this: After World War I, most airplanes had rotary engines with left turning tendencies because it followed the torque of the engine. ...
  • 29.3k
43 votes
Accepted

Does a request for passengers to open vents indicate pressurization issues or equipment failure?

I have occasionally asked passengers to do the same thing. I have also asked for window shades to be lowered. The reason is usually because the APU was not working and the ground air conditioning was ...
  • 35.8k
43 votes

Why do airlines retire the flight number after a crash?

Retiring flight numbers after crash is mainly done to prevent the flight evoking negative emotions among future passengers. You don't want the flight number to conjure up images of crash while booking ...
  • 99.4k
42 votes

Why pilots would leave the cockpit in a short flight?

The cockpit of some airliners lacks a lavatory. Cockpit layout from AviationKnowledge.wikidot This is discussed in Skybrary: Flight Deck Security Locked Door Flight Safety Issues ... ...
42 votes
Accepted

Why would the Pakistan airspace closure cancel flights not headed to Pakistan itself?

To give an example of how flights can be affected by this in ways to make them impossible, Iranian airspace is closed from sunset to sunrise (unless things have changed recently). Any aircraft that ...
  • 15.5k
41 votes
Accepted

Why don't we have helicopter airlines?

They do in fact exist, though they often use smaller helicopters. A Google search on the term "heli taxi" yields thousands of results, and while a lot are probably irrelevant, the first few pages give ...
  • 15.5k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible