115

Your flight took off during a storm. During a storm, the wind speed close to the surface of the earth is much lower than the wind speed a bit higher up. This variation of wind speed over a short vertical distance is called wind shear. The aircraft is taking off into the wind, so during the initial climb the headwind increases. Increasing headwind during ...


107

"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 lavatory while the flight is on approach and passengers are supposed to be in their seats definitely does have an impact on the flight, so it does not fall under ...


97

First of all, the landing should be in the touchdown zone. Often I see pilots try to achieve a very smooth landing but floating far out of the touchdown zone before touching terra firma. Then they have to brake hard and taxi of at the far end. There are no points for landing outside the touchdown zone, even if it is the smoothest landing imaginable. In many ...


83

Qualification: I worked at a sport parachute center as an instructor for 10 years and I hold an FAA Master Parachute Rigger certificate. I believe that qualifies me as an expert on the subject. The majority of the above other statements here are correct. In summary: The door of a pressurized passenger plane cannot be opened in flight for the stated reasons....


72

This is for safety reasons. Take-off and landing are the two most critical phases of flight and thus, every additional step to ensure survivability, be it even just adjusting the light, is taken. The interior lights or cabin lights are adjusted to match the exterior environment, so that in case of an emergency, especially if the interior lights fail, your ...


67

Basically everything that consumes power on an aircraft can potentially cause interference, short-circuits, or otherwise jeopardize the safety of flight and therefore must be switchable. Sometimes the switch is in the form a button, otherwise by a fuse. There are several particular reasons that the transponder can be turned off. If the transponder ...


67

No, this is not a good idea, and No, it is not possible finish your education at 23, and then get employed as an intercontinental airline pilot. It seems you have a distorted idea of what an airline pilot actually does. An intercontinental airline pilot usually spends just 24 hours at the layover destination. Much of that time is spent sleeping to recover ...


67

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, and weather that meets requirements Aircraft may not arrive due to weather diversions (couldn't land with fuel on hand, etc). If there's no airplane, your flight ...


65

Most commercial aircraft transmit their GPS-based position twice per second. This is part of their Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B) broadcasts. The problem with providing world-wide receiver coverage for this system is that the frequency it uses only travels line via line of sight, so it won't travel past the horizon. Providing coverage ...


61

"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

There is no time. You need to convey the information in as little time as possible or people (those few that watch at all) lose interest and start doing other things. Reasoning tends to invite arguments, there's always someone who thinks he knows better. You don't want that. Simplicity. Make things as easy to understand as possible using simple words. That ...


59

In the US, a controller has the authority to treat any situation as an emergency, and they do. I have had controllers "declare" an emergency multiple times, even when I thought I did not have an emergency. There are some advantages to the controller. His work gets shed to others, and his supervisor is at his side to assist. At one point, after ...


58

As soon as there's a fire on board, the absolute top priority is getting everybody out as soon as possible. Aircraft are designed in such a way that, even after a crash landing (or other serious malfunction), the passengers will have a minute or two to evacuate before conditions in the cabin become toxic (fire, smoke, etc); this is done by using flame-...


57

No aircraft ever had more than two pilots (on duty at the same time). The additional flight crew members were flight engineer, navigator and radio operator. Dedicated radio operators were only needed in the early days when the radio was primitive and required some care and experience to tune properly. As it improved, operating radio was merged into ...


56

Aircraft design has not changed that much in the last 10 years. In fact, most aircraft in production 10 years ago are still in production. The cargo holds in typical airliners are indeed pressurized. Take a look at a cross section of an airliner (A380 here): The round shape of the fuselage outline is very efficient at withstanding pressure. Because of that,...


56

The plane would be lighter. Not by much. It cannot be hard to dedicate different planes to different routes. This adds to the logistics difficulties in scheduling the airframes. It's MUCH easier if all the airframes can be used on all the routes. Returning the life jackets each time the plane has to fly over water. This involves extra down-time/...


55

There's a real-life example that seems very similar: Aeroflot 593. The pilots let two children sit in the cockpit while the aircraft was on autopilot. One of the children pushed the control column for 30 seconds, which disengaged the autopilot and started a steep turn. The pilots tried to recover but the aircraft stalled and crashed, killing everyone on ...


54

Airlines do care about your carry-on weight and even your weight. Many have carry-on weight limits, which low-cost carriers usually enforce, weighing the carry-on and tagging it as cabin luggage. Full-service airlines rarely bother. One reason they don't measure your weight is that most people wouldn't feel comfortable getting weighed in front of strangers, ...


53

Airliners are both larger and more complex than the small aircraft you're familiar with at your local flight school. For an example of some of the items to consider, see: What do you need to do to bring a 737 Max back in service after 6 months in storage? A lot of those things won't be improved just by flying the plane periodically, but some items are. ...


52

It is no accident that the biggest birds are flightless. The ability to fly goes down with increasing size, so there is also an upper limit for aircraft. The main reason is that as size increases, masses go up with the cube of the size increase while the load-carrying structures like wing spar cross sections only grow with the square of the size increase. ...


52

Surface air temperatures aren't really going to be relevant for an airliner. The temperature of the troposphere doesn't vary that much. In fact, the troposphere is warmer at the poles (from Wikipedia Troposphere): At middle latitudes, tropospheric temperatures decrease from an average of 15 °C at sea level to about −55 °C at the tropopause. At the poles, ...


46

Yes, it is possible, however unlikely! The final report into the downing of MH17 investigated the possibility that the aeroplane was hit by "meteor or space debris" In section 3.5 a number of scenarios are analysed that relate to the possible source or sources of the object that perforated the aeroplane. These include meteor and space debris. It was ...


46

A perfect landing is seen as one where the contact with the runway is almost imperceptible. No, the perfect landing is firm. The aircraft should touch down with a not strong, but still perceptible jolt. The reasons are: Weaker initial contact between wheels and surface means the wheels take longer to spin up. The longer skidding abrades more rubber and on ...


46

A slot time is issued for aircraft flying through busy airspaces or to busy airports where the demand (number of flights) exceeds the capacity. If 50 flights are planned to arrive at an airport in 1 hour, but the airport can only handle 40 flights per hour, then the flow of traffic needs to be regulated. Many years ago, everyone would simply depart, and ...


45

To answer the questions as asked, We won't depart over the maximum takeoff weight. We'll do something to bring the takeoff weight down to not exceed the limit. Generally, people fly as scheduled if at all possible, and as much as possible their bags go on the same plane that they do, and other cargo is a lower priority. There are exceptions; passengers ...


45

There is an easy way to get an idea of what magnitude the savings are: The Breguet equation can answer this. You first calculate a reference aircraft and then start all over with one that weighs 1% less. The difference in fuel consumption shows how much fuel is saved per flight. Our reference design is the A320 which has an L/D of 18 and we let it fly a ...


43

The main thing that is required for a stall recovery is just the ability to drop the nose to decrease angle-of-attack and regain airspeed (and, of course, adding power helps, too.) Except in the case of deep stall, there is still sufficient air flowing over the horizontal stabilizers (and, thus, the elevators) in an airliner to push the nose down during a ...


43

South African Airways flights to 'less developed' locations in Africa often carry a mechanic and some spares on board. If there are no suitable repair facilities, supplies or maintenance personnel available at the destination, then their own guy can fix any minor mechanical issues. If there's a major problem then they would have to fly in additional repair ...


42

Airplanes are much more efficient, much faster and scale better. Helicopters are limited to around 150 knots because when flying forward the tip of the advancing blade must not exceed the speed of sound while the retreating blade must still move aft fast enough to produce lift. Helicopters are also difficult to make large, because for efficiency the rotor ...


42

None of four airlines I worked for (two commuters, two Part 121) had specific guidance as to the max number of go-arounds. However, as mentioned in the other answers, 2 or 3 was believed to be a good rule. The only time I did multiple go-arounds, all missed approaches, was trying to get into Pullman, WA during a snowstorm in the late 1980s in an SA-227 ...


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