62

The accounts that have been published of F-117 missions indicate that they generally flew single-ship, rather than formation missions, and it seems probable that B-2 aircraft do likewise. So in a sense, the important question for those aircraft isn't "how do I know where (another stealth aircraft operating nearby) IS," but "how do I ensure that we don't ...


54

The question specifically asks about FAA regulations, so I will try to provide specific citations. Summary For a commercial airliner (as the question asked), separation will usually be at least 3 miles laterally, or 1,000 feet vertically. In the enroute environment -- at higher operating speeds above 10,000 feet and based on the type of Radar and distance ...


38

This 'party trick' is covered nicely on metabunk.org. [It's the Su-30's] ability to inject unburnt fuel into the exhaust plume via the afterburner system. The super hot air of the exhaust instantly evaporates the volatile fuel, and then when it mixes with the cold air behind the plane the fuel reforms as a fine mist, essentially a fuel smoke cloud. (...


31

From: Forum post - "Trails from the back of Fighter Jets", Metabunk.org Jets practicing for air-shows (or actually in air-shows) sometimes use smoke to create trails. This is made by injecting something like paraffin into the hot exhaust where it vaporizes and condenses as smoke. And the accompanying image Looks a lot like the image in your question.


30

To not be detected, it is essential to suppress any radiation coming from the stealth airplane. Therefore, radar is not an option and only passive sensing is possible. When stealth aircraft fly in formation, they keep visual contact and avoid IMC flight. To enable ship-to-ship communication, the F-117 has an optical datalink which uses red laser light to ...


27

Formation lights are used so that aircraft can fly close formation at night. They are typically luminescent strips positioned so that an aircraft can be in the desired position (i.e. fingertip formation) and have references fore-aft, up-down, and near-far similar to references as used for daytime formation flying. Something along the lines of, "keep the ...


26

@Lnafziger is correct that absolutely ZERO contact between aircraft flying in formation is acceptable, with Aerial Refueling (AR) being the sole exception to this -- but in that case the AR equipment is designed to allow for what's going on. The problem with contact IS the significant risk of damage to the aircraft involved, so the assumption in "assuming ...


25

Yes. This is part of a series of promotional stunts, "adverts", Emirates are undertaking. Aircraft can fly in formation, all other rules taken into account, if the captains agree. By flying above the aircraft. As the article states, it was meticulously planned for safety (after all, an accident would be disatrous PR), and the Jetman flyers would know ...


24

The key in holding the same speed as your wingman or the other aircraft is not to find the "perfect" throttle position, the key is to slightly adjust the throttle. When you look at cockpit-videos of those formation pilots (like this - move the camera to the throttle, it's a 360-degree video), you can see that they are constantly moving the throttle. They ...


22

During formation flying, no contact is acceptable. At the speeds of demonstration, any contact will be dangerous. During formation flying, the pilots take every precaution to prevent accidental contact, including preventing accidental movement of control stick. According to Commander Shaun "Linus" Swartz of Blue Angels, The Blues attach a 40 lb spring ...


20

Energy saving The wing creates lift, which is upward force on the wing. According to principle of action and reaction, there must be a downward force acting on the air. This force creates a downwash behind the wing. As the accelerated air interacts with the still air further away it turns to the sides and back up, creating a slight upwash outside of the ...


18

The image is a composite image of 42 planes taking off from Heathrow over a one-hour period on November 2, 2016. Here it is on Getty Images if you want to license it for your own purposes; it is credited to Dan Kitwood.


17

The answer is that visibility varies depending on the density of the cloud. And it can vary significantly. Flying in formation in IMC is very common in the military. Sometimes it will be dense enough that all you will have is a wingtip or light. In those cases it can be very disorienting and difficult to maintain position because you need more than a ...


15

This possibility has actually been studied and discussed (e.g. here, here, here) as a way to save fuel costs, but there are several issues with implementing it today: You need to schedule a number of aircraft all flying the same route at the same time for a significant amount of time If different, competing airlines should participate in one formation then ...


14

From the practical stand point I can remember vividly 2 times where the formation lights were invaluable. First, let me say I always used them while flying formation in clouds. They just gave you a little more light to fly off of. I flew A7-E's, light attack, single seat fighter jets off the USS Nimitz for 2 tours and was stationed in the soup of the ...


12

Nope, pilots do not use autopilot to fly in formation. An autopilot cannot achieve the precision required for flying formation (e.g. keep the wingtip aligned to that door). Usage of autopilot would also hinder responses when an immediate correction is necessary. You may refer to the TV episode Jet Stream and Blue Angle training videos on the internet. From ...


11

Formation flight is not allowed by the FAA when carrying paying passengers: from 14 CFR 91: §91.111 Operating near other aircraft. (a) No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard. (b) No person may operate an aircraft in formation flight except by arrangement with the pilot in command of ...


11

There is no optical datalink over laser for F-117 pilot communications. Comms on that plane was my primary job and I can assure the readers it had no such thing. The comment about single ships was about right - we had pre-programmed routes and due to autopilot and autothrottle the goal was to keep the airplane on route on time. The comms antenna were ...


11

That'd be a roughly 1 meter stick you've got to beat that other aircraft with, at most. Not a long stick at all. By the time the other aircraft got that close a collision would be unavoidable. Not only would momentum carry them closer, but the banging would likely not even be heard by the crew of the other aircraft. Remember they'd be wearing headphones, ...


10

Canada Geese are famous for taking advantage of this phenomenon-- they use the wingtip vortices caused by the bird right in front of them, to decrease drag during flight. You can see wikipedia for some information regarding "V" formation and aviationweek for a relevant USAF experiment involving C17 aircraft.


10

As long as the aircraft are in formation, they are controlled as a single aircraft. From US DoT OrderJO 7110.65T ATC General Control: 2-1-13. FORMATION FLIGHTS a. Control formation flights as a single aircraft. When individual control is requested, issue advisory information which will assist the pilots in attaining separation. When pilot reports indicate ...


9

You are right that wake turbulence would be a danger when flying behind another aircraft like that. The perspective of the photo makes it hard to see the actual position of the trailing aircraft relative to the ones in front of it. Pilots do this sort of thing in airshows when they fly in formation. The trailing aircraft are generally slightly below the ...


8

My copy of "EW 101: A First Course in Electronic Warfare" calls it "formation jamming". Mind you, an operator of a radar with non-cooperative threat recognition capability will at least suspect something is wrong (although not from all aspects and ranges).


8

For the US, according to section 4-1-11 of the AIM (Designated UNICOM/MULTICOM Frequencies) for private fixed-wing flights you should use 122.75: Air-to-air communication (private fixed wing aircraft): 122.750 Air-to-air communications (general aviation helicopters): 123.025 Aviation instruction, Glider, Hot Air Balloon (not to be used for ...


8

you have 3 separations for commercial flights vertical separation: two aircrafts flying in the same direction will be separated by 2 flight levels (FLs), equivalent to 2000 ft. The intermediate FL is occupied by planes flying in the opposite direction. Each aircraft has thus 500 ft above and below the assigned altitude of free airspace. lateral separation: ...


8

The appropriate rules are in FCL.800 Aerobatic Rating A licensed pilot may not undertake aerobatic flights unless they hold an Aerobatic Rating 40 Hours of Flight Time (or 120 launches for sailplanes as PIC) completed after issue of respective license Aerobatic Training course including theoretical knowledge and 5 hours or 20 flights Aerobatics must ...


7

Yes, it does appear that the airplanes behind the lead in a formation would be affected by wake turbulence. In reality, there are several factors which contribute to make it not so risky. Airplanes make the formation on high altitudes. Wake Turbulence becomes a bigger issue during takeoff and landing phases. As mentioned on Wikipedia: Wake turbulence is ...


7

It’s a composite shot of multiple departures from an airport. To answer the question, no, there was no single event with all of these aircraft flying in close proximity like this where a single photograph of the group could be taken.


7

Turning Rate All planes flying a turn in line-abreast formation are turning at the same rate $\omega$. A standard turn is commonly defined as $\omega_1 = 3°\frac{1}{\mathrm{s}}$. Full Circle Time Period If planes are turning at the same rate, the time period to complete a complete circle will be the same as well. Time period: $$ T(\omega) = \frac{360°}{...


7

Here are the regulations in 14 CFR 91.111: §91.111 Operating near other aircraft. (a) No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard. (b) No person may operate an aircraft in formation flight except by arrangement with the pilot in command of each aircraft in the formation. (c) No person may operate an ...


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