SentryRaven
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Why are the lights inside commercial airplanes turned off during take off and landing?
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72 votes

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. ...

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Why do pilots use airways instead of just "flying direct" every time?
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65 votes

Airways simply allow for better management of traffic. Imagine for a moment that everyone had an off-road capable car, if all the drivers were going "GPS Direct" to their destination how would drivers ...

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What does it mean for a door to be armed?
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63 votes

If a door is put into armed mode, it will trigger the evacuation slide when the door is opened. Prior to departure (usually before engine startup), all the aircraft doors are placed into the armed (...

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Why is the rear seat ejected before the front one?
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54 votes

If the front seat ejected first, the drag would probably bring him too close in the trajectory of the rear seat, thus making a collision of both probable. Since the rear seat is ejected first, it ...

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What is the cable connected to a plane for?
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37 votes

This is a ground power unit (GPU) which supplies the aircraft with electricity while the generators or the auxiliary power unit (APU) are not running. This is important especially during boarding, ...

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Is there any airline company owner who also works as a pilot?
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33 votes

Yes, Niki Lauda, former Formula 1 pilot and ATPL holder, founded Lauda Air, for which he also worked as PIC. Lauda returned to running his airline, Lauda Air, on his second Formula One retirement ...

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Is a pilot allowed to sleep during a flight?
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31 votes

Airline flight crews generally consist of at least 2 pilots. One pilot is designated as pilot flying, the other is the pilot not flying, observing instruments and flight parameters. If required, ...

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When is an aircraft cleared to land?
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29 votes

Usually, the clearance is given when the runway is clear of traffic or, at least in Europe, when two conditions are met: Reduced Runway Separations is in use and the criteria for issuing the landing ...

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What is this aircraft, and what country makes it?
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22 votes

This is a Raytheon Sentinel R1, which is produced by Raytheon (US) and Bombardier (Canada). The aircraft in your picture is operated by the Royal Air Force. (Image Source: WikiPedia - Author: Alan ...

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Where did the "K" identifier prefix for US airports come from?
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21 votes

The letter K was simply assigned to the contiguous US by ICAO, in order to have a system with unique identifiers for world-wide use, instead of trying to adapt local system to match. The IATA codes ...

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Why aren't there more passenger helicopters?
21 votes

Jan Hudec's answer has already detailed why helicopters are not widely used for mass transportation or have been scaled up to ferry passengers more often. The few exceptions exist where landing space ...

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Who decides how fast commercial aircraft fly: the pilots or ATC?
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21 votes

ATC can assign speeds en-route for separation or in the TMA area for sequencing aircraft onto the approach. Speeds en-route in upper sectors are assigned using Mach numbers: R: "DLH123, maintain ...

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What flight simulator software did Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah use?
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20 votes

Based on the red little strip (notification bar) on the bottom of the instrument panel in the middle, it must be either Microsoft Flight Simulator or Lockheed Martin Prepar3d. The red notifiation bar ...

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What data is displayed on civilian ATC radar screens?
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19 votes

There are a few different ATC Systems and Radar Screens being used throughout the world, so there will be no set standard which applies globally, as vendors and setup differ. The ATC screen can be ...

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What do pilots actually see through the windows?
18 votes

This really depends on the type of aircraft and the seating position of the pilot. In smaller aircraft, you will have a good view of the area around you, depending on the canopy. In larger aircraft, ...

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Is "right-of-way" based on aircraft size?
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18 votes

The size of an aircraft plays no role in identifying who has right of way. The general rule is that for same-class/type (powered or non-powered) aircraft, the aircraft coming from the right has right-...

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Does European airspace use the metric system?
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18 votes

European Civil Aviation Authorities use the imperial system to depict altitudes and airspace restrictions (feet), speeds (knots) and distances (nautical miles). Some VFR aircraft have speed ...

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How does ATC deal with a crew who is not capable of a clear pronunciation?
16 votes

There is special phraseology snippets that allow information to be transmitted over the frequency with more accuracy, slower, repeated or worded differently. ATC may also query other company traffic ...

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Are airliner flight plans/routes preset?
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15 votes

Airlines have an own department that is solely responsible for their flights and flight plans: Dispatch. Since single airways can have different availability or just direction for different days or ...

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Can jet fighter missiles descend or ascend?
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15 votes

Yes, they can. Air-to-Air or Air-to-Ground missiles are often equipped with little fins that allow certain maneuverability or also with thrust vectoring. (Image Source: WikiPedia - Author: USAF) (...

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What if you don't recognise an aircraft ATC is telling you about?
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15 votes

To add to Dave's answer, if traffic is pointed out to you which you are unfamiliar with, ask for clarification. ATC or FIS will have a good understanding of aircraft types and speeds, especially in ...

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Why do entertainment system headphones on aircraft have two pins?
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15 votes

The three main reasons are: Prevent theft of headphones due to incompatibility with home systems Redundancy, if one connector breaks, the other will still provide audio Before the 3.5mm jack was used,...

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How close is X-Plane experience to real flying?
15 votes

X-Plane and other simulators can be set up to reflect the complexity of real-life aircraft systems, down to a certain level of detail, e.g. most serious flight-sim enthusiasts usually start their ...

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Do some aircraft now have "full aircraft" parachutes?
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14 votes

Yes, Ballistic Recovery Systems or Ballistic Parachutes (BRS) are now being implemented in newer aircraft where the manufacturer can provide them or where they are required by law. In Germany, ...

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How strictly are language rules adhered to between Pilot and ATC?
14 votes

Standard Phraseology is what should be used, but especially in those countries where the local language is an allowed IFR language, you will get deviation from that in daily use, either due to dialect,...

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How does ATC control / separate Airbus Industrie test flights?
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14 votes

They will be in contact with ATC at all times and ATC can issue a clearance to operate within a defined area or within a specific flight level range, keeping other aircraft out of that area, e.g. ...

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What constitutes an "emergency" in flight procedures?
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14 votes

There is a really good explanation of emergency situation over at the SkyBrary: An emergency situation is one in which the safety of the aircraft or of persons on board or on the ground is endangered ...

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Is there a button that pilots push to transmit on the radio?
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14 votes

There is a push to talk (PTT) button located at the yoke or sidestick, in small and large aircraft likewise. When the PTT button is not triggered, all communication is routed through the intercom and ...

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What is the maximum number of planes a controller can control?
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14 votes

There is no fix maximum a controller is allowed to have under control, as the other answer already pointed out. The airspace under control of ATC is divided up into sectors containing the airways to ...

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Do I have any authority over airspace above my land?
14 votes

This will differ from country to country, but I will give an example based on the German law, so you can derive how countries can work with airspace. In general, following BGB §905, the airspace ...

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