Air travel as a luxury that could be afforded by few is a thing of the past, today commercial airline companies across the world are doing whatever they can to make flying more accessible and affordable to everyone. Most of us have at the least traveled domestic and have experienced a plane ride, but here are a few lesser known facts about aircraft and the aviation industry in general.
1. Most planes flying internationally have their home country’s flag painted on or around their tails. Generally, the flag is facing the proper way round on the left (port) side of the aircraft, and backward on the starboard side.
2. A Boeing 737 weighing 150,000 pounds (68,000 Kg) must deflect about 88.000 pounds (40,000 Kg) of air – over a million cubic feet (31,500 cubic meters) down by 55 feet (16.75 m) each second while in flight.
3. A commercial aircraft door will not open in flight because it is actually, bigger than the window frame itself, and the door opens inwards towards the cabin. To open, it must be opened inwards, rotated and then slipped sideways out of the frame.
4. Airline doors and windows are often in-set a few millimeters from the fuselage. This is so that they will expand with the fuselage during flight.
5. How powerful are jet engines? In May 2000, a chartered jet carrying the New York Knicks basketball team taxied out too close to a line of cars parked on the tarmac. The blast from the taxiing jet flipped head coach Jeff Ban Gundy’s car into the air and over three other cars, completely demolishing it.
6. Even if you strapped on giant wings, you could never fly because the human heart can’t pump blood quick enough to satisfy the enormous, strain of flapping. When flying, a sparrow’s heart pumps more than 450 times each minute!
7. The engine of a Boeing 747 weighs almost 9500 pounds (4300kg) and costs about $8 million USD. It burns 12 gallons (45.4 litres) of fuel per minute while cruising.
8. The windows in an airport control tower must be tilted out at exactly fifteen degrees from the vertical to minimize reflections from both inside and outside the control tower.
9. The faster an airplane flies through the turbulence, the more stress it can put on the aircraft, so airlines have ‘rough air’ speed rules that instruct the pilots to slow down in turbulent conditions.
10. Airplanes often cruise at around 35,000 feet. That sounds pretty far up, but compare this to the size of the earth itself. If the Earth were shrunk to the size of a typical desktop globe, the airplane would be cruising at only one-tenth of an inch (2.5 mm) off the surface.
11. Commercial pilots who fly on international flights and the flight controllers who the pilots talk to are required to be able to speak English, the international language of flight.
12. The larger the airplane, the slower it flies.
13. Air pressure is serious business. If the cabin depressurizes while you are at cruise altitude and you don’t put on an oxygen mask, you could become unconscious within thirty seconds.
14. Even though airliners carry medical kits and can quickly be in radio contact with doctors on the ground, about 100 people die each year while flying, from heart attacks, seizures, or other medical emergencies.
15. The pilots’ headset are always tuned to air traffic control frequencies, but the pilots also communicate with the airline offices via private radio channels. Before takeoff, the airliners dispatches, confirms the number of passengers onboard, the amount of fuel loaded the weight of the aircraft, the takeoff speed, whether there are animals onboard or in the cargo hold, and the airport general security status.
16. The captain and the first officer always eat different meals during flight, just in case one of them gets sick.
KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) Royal Dutch Airlines is the world’s oldest airline, established in 1919
In 1987 American Airlines saved $40,000 by removing 1 olive from each salad served in first class
An aircraft takes off or lands every 37 seconds at Chicago O’Hare’s International Airport
The wing-span of the A380 is longer than the aircraft itself. Wingspan is 80m, the length is 72.7m
Singapore Airlines spends approximately $700 million on food every year and $16 million on wine
Travelling by air can shed up to 1.5 litres of water from the body during an average 3 hour flight
The internet and on-line check-in was first introduced by Alaska Airlines in 1999
Total electricity capacity of a 747 can power up to 480,000 32inch flat screen TVs
The world-wide 747 fleet has logged more than 78 billion kilometres, equivalent to 101,500 trips to the moon and back
At any given time there are over 610,000 people airborne across the world.
The average 737 has between 240-280 kilometres of wiring
About 1/3 of your taste buds are numbed while flying. Maybe that meal was not bland after all?
A commercial aircraft flies at an average speed of 800 kilometers per hour.