76 votes

Why don't commercial airplanes carry Earth-observing instruments?

They do! Well, at least some of them. There is for example a project called TAMDAR (Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting) that e.g. Icelandair is a part of. There is a document ...
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  • 3,759
75 votes
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Is it possible to fly backward if you have really strong headwind?

Yes, certainly! If your airspeed is lower than the speed of the headwind, the aircraft will fly backwards relative to the ground. Example videos: from ground (noisy, better turn down your volume) ...
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  • 10.6k
61 votes

Why don't commercial airplanes carry Earth-observing instruments?

I work in the aviation industry, specifically repair, maintenance and engineering. While not an engineer myself, I work alongside them. Adding anything to an airframe, internally or externally, ...
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  • 581
44 votes
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Why are airplanes described as the safest method of transportation?

Good news The good news is: you really are safe in an airliner, so safe that you could spend every minute of every day of the the rest of your life flying in one, and still not face any greater ...
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40 votes
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Why do non-aerobatic aircraft have a negative G limit?

You can get negative load factors (g forces) in different ways than just flying upside down: Change in pitch: When you push on the control column, the pitch will start to decrease. Depending on how ...
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  • 43.9k
29 votes

What happened to this plane during landing? Failed first time?

There are many, many reasons why a pilot might go around. The approach wasn't stable. The last plane that landed was slow to get off the runway, and the pilot or ATC decided that landing would create ...
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28 votes
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How do planes maintain constant speeds at cruise altitudes?

The autopilot pitches to hold the flight level when it captures the level at the top of the climb, so later on as the aircraft gets lighter and wants to climb further, the A/P will lower the nose as ...
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  • 103k
28 votes
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What are the benefits of mounting an engine above the fuselage?

It's strictly to stay clear of spray in seaplanes, or because the engine was tacked on as an afterthought for some reason (like a motorglider conversion) and that was the only place to put it. There ...
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  • 103k
27 votes

What's the function of the plate behind the wheels of the Pilatus Porter?

Looks like a sort of gravel kit. Real gravel kits are used by jet powered aircraft to land on rough airfields. In this case though, the engine is in front, so it is likely that it is only there to ...
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  • 31.5k
26 votes

Can this aircraft wreckage be identified?

A plane should be able to be identified by the serial numbers of the various parts recovered at the crash scene. The history of any part on a plane is documented extensively by the serial number. ...
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  • 5,551
24 votes
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Can anyone Identify this FLY FAIR seaplane?

That is a Sikorsky S-38B I am not sure about the registration. My guess is NC196H, but it is one out of this list: NC158H, NC159H, NC195H, NC196H, NC197H, NC198H, NC199H, See aircrafthistory.org.uk ...
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  • 74.2k
23 votes

What is wrong with a high-speed landing for an ultralight or GA aircraft?

Keeping too much speed in an approach in any airplane can be risky depending on how much runway you have as it all has to bleed off before you can stop. It's a great way to end up in a hedge. Extra ...
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  • 49.1k
23 votes

Why are airplanes called ‘she’?

Much of aviation has a history in Nautical terms, lore... and law. Ships were referred to as "she" perhaps for one of the following reasons The latin word for Ship is "Navis" which is a feminine ...
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  • 25.2k
23 votes

Is it possible to fly backward if you have really strong headwind?

Yes, I have done this many times in hang gliders, and at least once in a Cessna 152. In the latter case, the wind aloft was much stronger than at the ground-- it would be foolish to take off or even ...
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  • 17.1k
21 votes
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What are the disadvantages of using just rudder to roll an airplane?

It works in a half-assed way but the key word is half-assed. You'll always be skidding around the sky since sideslip is required to obtain and maintain any rolling moment. Control response can be ...
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  • 103k
21 votes

Why don't commercial airplanes carry Earth-observing instruments?

Aside from the issues of weight and complexity, there are potential legal and political considerations regarding commercial carriage of certain kinds of observational equipment. Korean Airlines Flight ...
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21 votes
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Can someone identify the Make and Model of airplane that this fuselage belonged to?

That looks like the remains of a De Havilland DHC-3 Otter It used to wear the registration VP-FAK. British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre at Salisbury Hall, ...
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  • 74.2k
20 votes

Why are the angle-of-attack sensors on most airplanes mounted on the forward fuselage rather than at the wing roots?

Would installing the AOA vane (or, in general, sensor) at the wing root be more accurate than installing it near the nose? No, it wouldn't. In fact, it may be slightly worse due to the larger upwash ...
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  • 10.8k
19 votes

Why don't commercial airplanes carry Earth-observing instruments?

Is there any insurmountable technical or legal limitation to equip commercial airplanes with Earth Observing instruments? This question would probably be better answered on space.se, by people who ...
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  • 67.6k
19 votes

Is it possible to fly backward if you have really strong headwind?

Been there, done that. A poorly forecast cold front once had me flying backwards in a Cessna 172 over Altoona, IFR (instrument flight rules) at night. Center asked me several times to verify my ...
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  • 17.4k
18 votes

Why are airplanes described as the safest method of transportation?

Ships are subject to storms, aircraft fly above them. Cars are confined to a very crowded space called a road, and can collide with all the other cars sharing the road - aircraft have the infinite ...
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  • 57.7k
18 votes

Why does airflow separate from the wing during stall?

Air flowing underneath the wing at an angle is pushed downwards, regardless of the shape of the lower surface: high pressure has few practical limits. Air flowing over the upper surface cannot ...
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  • 57.7k
17 votes
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What is a biplane propeller and how efficient is it?

It is essentially two propellers stack on top of each other. You can see it in this picture of a Lazair. As for why they were chosen for the Lazair, Many have asked why Ultraflight opted for ...
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  • 95.9k
17 votes
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Why does the Antonov 225 needs 6 crew members?

A quick search points to the following being part of the crew Pilot Co-pilot 2x Flight engineers: one on the engine controls; I am not sure of the purpose of the second one but a good guess is ...
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16 votes
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What is wrong with a high-speed landing for an ultralight or GA aircraft?

You can, in theory, fly a faster landing speed than the default Vref of 1.3*Vso. But it’s wasteful in the round out and potentially very dangerous on short field landings. When an airplane lands, ...
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16 votes

Why don't commercial airplanes carry Earth-observing instruments?

Space fan here, and I think you are underestimating the size of the task. Earth has a surface area of 510 million km2. A plane travelling at 500 km/h with a 10 km observation track can ...
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16 votes

Is the term "small" applied differently between piston engine planes and jet engine planes?

I wouldn't expect press headlines to adhere to the FAA or ICAO definitions of "small", "large", "heavy", etc. This would be a public vernacular definition of "small", which would distinguish from the ...
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  • 2,408
16 votes

What is the type of the seaplane at the end of runway 18L on Schiphol Airport?

To clarify, it's a Fokker F-27 Friendship 500. Manufacturered in 1971, PH-NIV has photos of it on Wiki: Registration details here As to how it's in Amsterdam Schipol: towed to entrance at Oude ...
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  • 359
16 votes
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How does an airliner adjust and move exactly over the coloured lines before stopping in front of the jetways?

There are a few different ways. Probably the most low-tech and widespread is by marshaller guidance, which is a person outside the aircraft guiding the pilots by means of visual signals: The exact ...
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16 votes

Unusual airplane shown in Google Earth

The United States Marine Corps is facing a dilemma. There are not enough combat ready fighter jets for their pilots around the world. Boeing's answer to this problem is the C+ Program. The program ...
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