89 votes

How close can planes fly to each other over the ocean?

It was only very slightly higher than our plane by mere meters. You think you saw a plane at the exact same vertical level as yours, when in fact it was at least 300 metres (1000 feet) above or below ...
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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
71 votes

How close can planes fly to each other over the ocean?

This is an excellent question, and helps illuminate several important aspects of the way perception works in aviation. But first... Any near-miss or other air-proximity incident would have been ...
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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
59 votes

Can ATC handle a flight as emergency although the pilots have not declared an emergency?

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 ...
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  • 17.4k
54 votes
Accepted

Why can't I hang glide in NYC?

There are (at least) two general points to consider. First, hang gliders are ultralights and the regulations in 14 CFR 103 apply to them. 103.17 says: No person may operate an ultralight vehicle ...
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  • 70.2k
51 votes

Are seaplanes allowed to taxi in residential areas?

A sea plane was just going around it. It was very loud and got like 10 feet from the shore. It's just going in circles and won't take off and leave. As has been pointed out in other answers and ...
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  • 38.7k
43 votes
Accepted

Can a pilot take off at his own discretion?

Generally speaking a pilot can (physically) do whatever they want: ATC doesn't have a remote control. If you push the throttles forward and pull back on the yoke you will take off, no matter what mean ...
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  • 67.2k
43 votes
Accepted

Are seaplanes allowed to taxi in residential areas?

If you have concerns over the safety of what is going on, here is what you should do: Record a video with your phone. Try to get the N number (it should be painted in large letters on the side of the ...
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  • 35.1k
43 votes
Accepted

Why was a flight delayed because of a bird in the cockpit?

Having a small bird in a cockpit, or anywhere on board, would not be a problem during a normal flight because a normal flight should have a wide safety margin. However, a situation can change ...
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  • 28.3k
39 votes
Accepted

Do lights on aircraft flash in a specific pattern?

Civilian aircraft have flashing lights based on manufacturer design preference. As others have stated, aircraft like Boeing and Airbus have different patterns. However, military aircraft can often ...
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  • 8,508
39 votes

Can a private jet take off without notifying anybody and land on private land in another country?

No, you would need to arrange for customs as you are crossing an international border.
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38 votes

Can a private jet take off without notifying anybody and land on private land in another country?

Yes, it is possible to land an airplane in the US at a private airport when you have taken off from a foreign airport. No, you may not do it legally. Doing this is a federal crime. Since you are ...
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  • 16.2k
36 votes
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Has anyone ever been penalised for buzzing a control tower?

Well, there's always someone.In January 1954, American TV and Radio personality Arthur Godfrey buzzed the Teterboro control tower with his Douglas DC-3, resulting in the suspension of his license: In ...
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  • 98.5k
34 votes

Can ATC handle a flight as emergency although the pilots have not declared an emergency?

Yes. For example, in the US (I don't know what procedures are used in Indonesia), controllers are instructed (see 10-1-1): If the words “Mayday” or “Pan-Pan” are not used and you are in ...
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  • 8,248
33 votes

Are planes allowed to fly in circles, and is there a minimum legal altitude for takeoff and landing?

Most likely there’s a flight school at the nearby airport and they are conducting dual instruction flights over your neighborhood to practice ground reference maneuvers and possibly emergency ...
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30 votes
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What is the difference between aviation "accident" and "incident"?

There are indeed only two 'official' classifications of aviation incidents, which are defined in ICAO Annex 13. Accident. An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes ...
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  • 11.5k
30 votes

How would flying into Frankfurt a.M. Airport be problematic for the Tu-154?

Your friend is wrong. The Tu-154 is one of the safest Soviet designs and certainly was not about to fall out of the sky when departing Frankfurt. However, it is indeed a noisy airplane and in order to ...
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29 votes

Why are electric shavers specifically permitted under FAR §91.21

This is an educated guess, based on history: Electric razors were once well known as prone to generating elctromagnetic interference -- the ones available in the 1940s could pretty well blanket a ...
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  • 14.3k
28 votes

Does Daylight Saving Time affect local airspace?

Aviation always uses UTC time. This is from the FAA's AIM, but other countries do the same for obvious reasons: 4-2-12. Time a. FAA uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) for all operations. ...
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  • 70.2k
26 votes

Why was a flight delayed because of a bird in the cockpit?

If it's a small bird bedded down quietly under the jumpseat, I don't think I'd worry about it too much. Presuming that you found out about it while up at altitude, the question is, are you safer ...
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  • 41.9k
25 votes

Why do Turkey and UAE limit the age of aircraft flying over their territory?

Sounds like a market protectionist move by the nations. i.e. The airlines of UAE and Turkey are relatively new. At least their current expansion to a scale that is competitive with the major ...
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  • 8,224
25 votes
Accepted

Is it the tower's purview to recall an aircraft from the runway for loading the wrong cargo?

Yes, the tower can tell an aircraft to abort take off and instruct it to return to the gate, although it probably never got that far in this case, I'm guessing that they got to the runway or were ...
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  • 35.1k
24 votes

How flat does a runway need to be?

As an anecdotal answer to your first two questions, paved runways used by air carriers that have obviously noticeable vertical curves are a minority but not uncommon. Unless they've redone the runway ...
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  • 38.7k
24 votes

Is there a legal requirement to tell your doctor you are a pilot?

In the US, you are not required to inform a doctor that you are a pilot. However, on the application for a medical certificate (Form 8500-8) you must list all "visits to health professionals" in the ...
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  • 6,004
24 votes
Accepted

When does a flight require a copilot?

A flight requires pilot & copilot when the aircraft being flown requires it. A multi-crew aeroplane is one that requires a flight crew of at least two pilots. One of them is the pilot-in-command ...
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  • 25.4k
23 votes

What prevents a passenger from hijacking a private jet?

The same thing that prevents the passengers in your car from hijacking it and using it to run people down or drive it through a mall: It's your private car and you generally know the people that you ...
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  • 57.6k
23 votes
Accepted

Are there regulations for the field of view from cockpits?

The certification specification for aircraft are deliberately a bit vague on the topic. This allows manufacturers to come up with creative solutions that may have been prohibited if specific angles ...
22 votes

Can a pilot take off at his own discretion?

Yes, a pilot-in-command may take off at his own discretion if absolutely necessary in the interest of safety. Rules of the Air (ICAO Annex 2) apply: 2.3.1 Responsibility of pilot-in-command ...
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