When you are flying on a plane, a lot of things cross your mind. Even though flying is regarded as a safe mode of transportation, some people always have doubts and this has led to only a small percentage of people from around the world who have actually ever flown on a plane. The rest are simply frightened or prefer to go from one place to another via other modes of transportation. Regardless, many who are intrigued by air travel, who intend to travel by air, and frequent passengers have asked pilots a series of questions about airplanes and aviation practices. Here are some of those questions and concise answers to them.
Which Citizenship Will A Baby Born On Board Claim?
This can be quite tricky, but there are options to consider. The first option is; the baby claims the citizenship of the country where the plane landed. Another is the country over which the baby is born.
Lastly, the country in which the airline is registered. Any of the options will be determined by the crew of the plane (bearing the law of each country in mind). As a perk, the airline sometimes gives free travel to any destination of choice when the child is grown.
A Rough Landing On Water Or Land?
In case of an emergency, many seem to believe it’s easier to land on water — seeing it as a better option than landing roughly on land. Contrary to this opinion rough landing on land is safer.
Some planes can get easily flooded when it lands on water. Aside from that, while passengers may see a water body as a smooth surface, pilots see it as rough due to its inconsistent density. In most cases, pilots will prefer rough landing on land to water, except for rare occasions.
Can The Doors Be Opened During A Flight?
When a plane is in the air, the doors remain shut throughout the flight. This applies to the emergency doors as well. The doors are shut and cannot be opened until the plane lands.
Even if one wishes to open the door, the pressure will be too much and thereby making it impossible to open the door. The air keeps the door firmly shut; no button or mechanism can unlock the door until the plane comes to a lower altitude or lands.
Does The Toilet Content Drop Into Oceans?
Many believe that because a plane has to be light in weight, the toilet waste can’t and won’t be stored. So, some assume that all the waste generated by passengers will be disposed into the clouds to avoid excessive weight.
Contrary to this assumption, the waste from the toilet is stored in a waste tank. On arrival, the tank is moved following the waste disposal method in place. So, the thought of having someone’s waste dropping from the sky is just a “thought,” it can never happen, proper disposal is done.
How Is the Cockpit Door Opened If it’s Locked From Within?
Here is one question that bothers many because the cockpit door is always closed. In case of an emergency, many wonder if the cockpit is accessible from the outside. The answer is yes. There is a special code that is revealed to the crew of the plane before the flight.
Should there be a need, a flight attendant will enter the code to access the cockpit. The pilot still has a decision to make. If the pilot spots someone other than an attendant at the door through the camera, he may choose not to open the door.
Can Pilots Have Beards, Mustache, And Facial Piercings?
The answer is no, and there is a reason. Pilots need to wear an oxygen mask that must fit properly to the face. The proper fit required makes it impossible for pilots to keep beards, mustaches, or have piercings.
This is to avoid leaving anything to chance; only small strands of hair are allowed. With that, there will be no hindrance when using the oxygen mask. So, don’t be surprised if a pilot is always clean shaved.
What If The Engines Stop Functioning?
Just because the engines stop functioning doesn’t mean that the plane will necessarily crash. Similar to the way cars can move down a slope when placed in neutral, planes can glide without the engines.
It’s uncommon for a plane to suffer the loss of all its engine at one time. If, however, it happens, the pilots are well trained and they can land the plane safely. Most times, there is always a way to get the engine working again.
How Long Do The Oxygen Masks Last?
An oxygen mask in the plane is worn by pilots at all times. There isn’t a need for passengers to wear one because the oxygen level in the plane is artificially balanced to allow good breathing.
Should the cabin become depressurized at a high altitude, the need to use the masks will be become necessary to avoid losing consciousness. These oxygen masks can last for 10 to 15 minutes. During this period, the pilot would have reduced the altitude of the plane for proper breathing.
Do Pilots Sleep Inside The Cockpit?
Well, it’s more of a nap than sleep. According to statistics, more than half of pilots have fallen asleep by mistake while flying a plane. The beauty of modern airplanes is that they can fly automatically.
So, should a pilot fall asleep, no damage will result. This doesn’t mean that pilots can just sleep and leave the plane on auto; traffic controllers need to be in constant contact. To rest properly, pilots can take turns to have a nap.
Why Do Planes Circle Before Landing?
Circling before landing can feel off and disturbing, but this shouldn’t be– it’s normal for that to happen– due to some reasons.
For example, an obstruction on the runway may require the pilot to hold off before landing. Perhaps the weather may be unfavorable or the airport may be temporarily closed. All these are possible reasons why planes circle for some minutes before landing. So, there is no need to be frightened.
Do Planes Land Automatically?
Recent planes are equipped with an auto mode system that can accurately guide a plane as high as 1000 altitude to the point of landing. Landing can also be engaged under the automatic mode.
However, the pilot will be in control to make the necessary adjustments during the process. Additionally, the plane can be controlled by the instrument landing system with aid of a guide from the control tower. It does more than that; it can also change the route of a plane.
Do Pilots Eat When Onboard?
Another question many ask is about the meal of pilots when flying a plane. Why do pilots eat something quite different from what the passengers eat?
For extra precaution, each pilot eats a different meal to avoid being affected by possible food poisoning. This means that if one pilot eats chicken, the co-pilot will eat fish/ beef instead. This is the practice, but not all airlines follow this because some pilots have the same meal as the passengers. There is a space to eat a meal right there in the pit.
Why Do Some Pilots Fly With Passengers?
The white shirt and black pants identify a pilot in a crowd. Sometimes a pilot may have to board a plane with passengers due to some reason. When such a pilot is flying in uniform and sitting together with passengers, there are things to avoid.
The pilot cannot sleep, use the headset, or eat; all these are avoided to prevent panic among the passengers. Most times, the pilot would have to use the extra seat in the plane or fly first class.
Hitting A Bird, A Hailstorm, Or Lightning; Which is Worse?
When lightning strikes, it could affect the lights in the cabin and cause a blackout. The way an airplane is designed, it’s easy to get the system back online and get the cabin lit. Birds are the next thing to avoid.
If the creatures find their way into the turbine, the engine can get damaged. To avoid this, planes are designed to generate sounds that scare away birds. A hailstorm can cause a more devastating problem, however, weather is easy to read and avoid.
What Do The Spirals In A Turbine Signify?
The turbine of a plane is quite powerful and can cause injury. After a series of injuries (since the turbine can push an individual a few meters), the use of spirals in a turbine came into use.
The spiral design makes it easy to spot when it’s rolling, and static. Additionally, for extra safety, the turbine has a brightly colored center. With this, it’s easier to notice when the turbine is at work or not, to avoid injury. It’s rare to find oneself in front of a turbine but should it happen, here are things to watch out for.
Can An Amateur Land A Plane?
For modern planes, yes. For old types, then no. The new design of aircraft is well equipped and designed to be as automatic as possible. An amateur can land the plan successfully by following the instructions from the plane.
The sophisticated design of the plane can give voice control to direct an amateur on what buttons to engage when to stay put, and more. Not all aircraft have this function, so it would be impossible for someone without prior knowledge of flight to land some planes.
Why Do Passengers Not Get Parachutes?
Perhaps movies have made them look easy to use; a problem happens in a plane, the next thing is to reach for the parachute and jump down to safety. Haha! Not so simple.
Most people train to use parachutes. Without know-how, it would be impossible to use one. Another reason why passengers do not get parachutes is that it’s impossible to jump out of a fast-moving plane; the speed needs to be well reduced. The same thing applies to height. A successful jump out of a plane is not possible above 16,000 feet.
Are Pilots Scared Of Flights?
Flying by air remains the safest means of traveling. Most of the crashes happen mostly 3 minutes after takeoff, and 8 minutes to landing. So, pilots are careful and cautious but not scared.
The 3 minutes before take-off is partly spent on the runway. According to statistics, it will take 145,000 times in the air for a traveler to get involved in a crash, and it’s just a chance (probably). To feel safe when on a plane, many suggest sitting at the rear part of the cabin. Should a runway accident occur, there is an exit door close by.
Should A Pilot Get An Applause After A Flight?
This is not necessary. Pilots like sailors, bus drivers, etc., are doing their job. Do not feel the need to let them know they are doing a fantastic job, they are aware of this. So, don’t start to applaud the pilots after a journey. It’s not needed.
Of course, there are times when the applause happens, and pilots are happy to hear this. Some even come around to wave the exiting passengers. This is certainly a good question to ask about pilots to avoid an awkward scenario. Although rare, some may get to meet the pilots and say some words of appreciation.
Do Pilots Play Music In The Cockpit?
Music in the cockpit is prohibited during a flight. The only time pilots can listen to music is during the waiting period when there are no passengers on board. Sometimes, through the traffic control frequency pilots can get radio stations playing music.
All avenues of listening to music are possible only when the plane is not operating. While some may argue that doctors get to listen to music while performing life saving operations, pilots do not get to enjoy such an opportunity.
What If There Is A Medical Emergency?
The crew of each plane receives some medical training to deal with emergencies before the eventual transfer of an affected individual after landing.
Since a medical emergency is possible during a flight, when this happens, there is also a chance that someone with medical knowledge is onboard. Most planes can take up to 300 passengers, if not more. Out of all on board, there is always a chance of having someone with a medical background to attend to the emergencies.
Do Trained Pilots Use Autopilot?
Some think autopilot is useful for amateurs or when a flight starts to become turbulent. However, pilots can engage autopilot anytime they want. Usually, there are three types of autopilot.
So only one may be used depending on the situation. For the most part, pilots go manual when ascending and descending. In some cases, especially for regions with thick fog, the use of autopilot will come in handy. In cases like this, the three types of autopilot can be activated.
What Language Do Pilots Use When Addressing The Passengers?
Many wonder what language pilots use, and if there’s a general language. The answer is a bit tricky. The generally used language of aviation is English, since this is true of many other industries.
Sometimes, in some parts of Europe like Spain and Paris, the official language of the country may be used. This also happens in Canada. In the area of Montreal, the common language on the radio is usually French, since the pilots are mostly French, it comes as no surprise. Don’t feel it’s odd or unprofessional if another language comes on in the cabin.
How Do Pilots Communicate With The Control Center?
There are two major ways of communication. In past times, it was basically through speaking. The pilots communicate with the control room in the same mode a voice call is done. Thanks to improvement through technology, the mode of communication is now possible via text.
The use of text doesn’t cancel the voice option. Many pilots still enjoy the beauty of listening to various accents as the plane travels to different parts of the world. Some pilots also feel the voice option is an easier method of communication.
Are Personal Modifications Possible In The Cockpit?
The cockpit is strictly a work area, and as such, it is not possible to effect personal modifications. Although some personal items can be brought into the cockpit, not much is allowed.
Some pilots may bring in caps, pillows, or other little personal items. The detailed instructions pilots get prevents them from bringing too many things on board. For example, a pilot cannot choose to bring a personal type of headset when it’s not one’s private jet. So, pilots stick to the instructions– it’s just like going to work– there are rules.
Why Do Flights In The Middle East Take Off At Midnight?
The answer can be a bit difficult but here is a breakdown. Hot air is not as dense as cold air. During the day in the middle east, the hot air will not allow the plane to move as fast and easily as it would in cold air.
To get around this, flights are scheduled to take off at midnight when the air is cold and dense. Of course, the new design of planes is built to get around this. However, the tradition of night flights has seemed to have stuck – a reason why many airlines still stick to the routine of night flights.
Should Airplane Mode Be Activated?
Many cell phones have an airplane mode. There is no telling what this mode is used for. When traveling by air, the appropriate thing to do is disconnect the network of the mobile phone by activating the airplane mode.
The reality is that no plane has crashed due to interference resulting from mobiles disrupting the communication line. Due to this, many may feel it’s not necessary to use the airplane mode. True as that might be, one cannot err on the side of caution. So, keep this in mind on the next flight.
Can Lightning Affect An Airplane?
Yes, lightning can affect an airplane as it does many other types of things. Power surges can build up and affect the plane electrically.
To prevent this, planes are built specially to withstand lightning and prevent damages that can affect a flight. The metal that planes are crafted from are resistant to lightning and power surge. This gives the crew and the entire passengers on board an assurance of a safe flight.
What Does The Green And Red Airplanes Wing Lights Signify?
As a precautionary measure, the wings of an aircraft are fitted with green and red lights. The green light is found on the right-wing, and the red light on the left-wing. The lights continue to blink through each flight until the plane lands.
The lights are not fancy or just some design, they are used to notify other planes of the presence of a moving aircraft so that they do not cross paths. The pilots will be able to determine the direction of a moving plane and stay off its part.
Why Are There Ashtrays In Place?
Smoking is prohibited in planes, yet many still wonder why airplanes have ashtrays if there isn’t a need for it. The fact is, even though smoking is not allowed, some people defy this instruction and still smoke on the plane.
When such individuals are spotted, the flight attendants are obligated to stop such ones and put out the flames using an ashtray (since that’s a safe way to dispose of it without causing damage). As a reminder, this question reinforces the need to avoid smoking when traveling by air.
Is There A Reason Why Airplane Meals Have Reduced Taste?
Many complain of the poor taste of the meal after a flight. Usually, many blame the chefs who prepare the meals claiming they are not good enough. In recent times, scientific research has provided a possible cause for poor tasting meals on a flight.
The research points to the tongue as the cause and not necessarily the food prepared. At high altitudes, 1/3 of the taste buds become numb. When this happens, the taste of the meal consumed at such a height will definitely not taste as expected.
Can Pressure Crack The Glass?
There are many different types of glass in the cabin of a plane which allow passengers to look out and enjoy the view from above (for those who get to sit near the window). A common question many ask is if the pressure externally can’t crack the glass and suck people out.
The answer is no. The glass is made of layers and the design gives a type of reinforcement that prevents damage or breakage of any sort. Passengers can touch the inner one, while the external withstands the pressure.
Why Is The Light Dim When Landing?
The lights going dim when the plane is landing seems ordinary. For someone who does not pay attention, it may be difficult to spot the reduction in the brightness of the light.
The lights going dim is a way to help the eyes adjust and see clearly should anything happen while landing. The eyes would have adjusted to the dullness, making it possible to see clearly in case of an emergency.
How Many Pilots Are Required To Fly A Plane?
Another question about pilots pertains to the number of pilots in a plane. Many wonder how many pilots are ideally on a plane. The number of pilots required to fly a plane varies. Depending on the length of the journey, an airplane can have up to four pilots.
The pilots will allow others to rest. In some countries, the regulations in such places may require a specific number of pilots in planes. For short flights, the standard number of pilot’s present is two. A pilot and co-pilot, otherwise known as captain and the first officer.
What Time Zone Do Pilots Use?
Time varies across regions. Some places are many hours behind or ahead. Many think the difference in time when traveling internationally will complicate the time used. The general practice for pilots and airlines, in general, is to use the UTC time zone.
The Universal Time Coordinated is used as a reference worldwide. So, pilots make use of these UTC as a reference to the local time of the destination and country of origin. Once the airplane lands, the pilots revert to the local time.
Do Pilots Have Time To Explore The Places They Fly?
Yes, pilots can explore the places they travel to although not for long. For a one-way trip, pilots have the opportunity to spend the night in the city in which they travel.
During that little window before the flight the next day, pilots can visit any place of choice and get back to the airport to resume duties. For short trips that require the pilot to fly back, the pilot can use the 40-45 minutes interval to take a short drive around town — possibly around the airport area to prevent the delay of the next flight.
Is Starting A Plane Difficult?
Starting a plane may have been projected as something extremely difficult. According to pilots, it isn’t a difficult thing to do but requires a knowledge of what to switch on. To summarize the entire process, the switch causes a spark that ignites the engine.
In a sense, the entire process is intricate. Modern modifications bring all processes into life within a matter of seconds. Despite the ease of starting a plane, it’s still imperative to learn some basics to know what buttons to push.
Can A Pilot Fly All Types Of Plane?
Yes, pilots are trained to fly almost all types of aircraft. It’s similar to driving a car; someone who can drive can drive any type of car. Of course, some technical characteristics will vary, but the controls are quite universal.
As possible as this is, commercial pilots still need a license to fly other types of aircraft. A pilot will need to get a license to fly some types of planes aside from the ones they have a license to fly.
What Toilet Do Pilots Use?
This question about pilots is quite common. Many wonder if there is a toilet attached to the cockpit. Talking to many pilots, many said there is no special toilet in the cockpit.
Pilots make use of the toilet at the front of the cabin; it’s closer to the cockpit than the rear one. So, pilots can easily use it without walking long distances. However, some planes have a designated toilet for pilots.
The Essence Of Turbulence
While turbulence is annoying, scary, and uncomfortable for passengers to encounter, it is rarely dangerous. From a pilot’s point of view, turbulence is merely rough air that provides inconvenience and discomfort.
This answer may be surprising to many passengers as there is a common misconception that during turbulence, the plane drops hundreds of feet at a time when in actuality, the displacement is no more than 20 feet (during heavy turbulence).
Turning Off Your Phone
It is highly unlikely that phones can cause issues in the cockpit of modern airplanes but the odds are not impossible. The reason for turning phones off is more of a social matter than a technological issue. Picture all 200 passengers aboard talking on their phones or hearing the loud sound of ringtones.
In order to avoid this inconvenience, airlines limit cellular conversations on planes under the guise of preventing technical issues with the plane. With that being said, there have been airplane crashes where cellphone interference was a possible factor.
Landing Gear Malfunction
The landing gear is one of the least hazardous things to go wrong with a plane. The more worrisome parts would be a tire failure or fire amounting from a high-speed take-off. The worst-case scenario with the landing gear would be if the gear fails to deploy at all.
In this event, the landing would be on the plane’s belly. This could burst the fuel tank but even this could be handled with emergency tools.
Could Passengers Break A Window?
Airplane windows are a lot stronger than they appear to be. If in the emergency event that an accident causes a window to crack, the plane would suddenly decompress.
While it is unlikely, there is a possibility that a passenger could be sucked through the hole immediately after the window breaks. However, the movie-like scene that you are most probably picturing in your head would not be the reality.
Is It Safe To Fly During A Storm?
Pilots steer clear of thunderstorms the way captains of ships avoid icebergs. This is done through using an onboard radar, assistance from air traffic control, and communication with other planes in the air. And if in the event that lightning strikes unexpectedly, the airplane is designed with protective measures.
These include a modified fuel tank and the installation of discharge wicks – this ensures that the lightning’s energy discharges overboard and does not electrocute the passengers.
How Likely Is a Plane to Crash?
Interestingly enough, this last decade has been recorded as the safest in history in regards to commercial flying. Whereas in the 1960s-1980s, plane crashes were more probable due to airport attacks, bombings, and technical malfunctions.
Today, large-scale crashes are very rare and if it appears differently, this is because of the dramatization of media outlets. Often what happens is minor plane difficulties are taken out of context and amplified on social media.
How Do You Become A Pilot?
In earlier decades, pilots built up their experience in the armed forces, whereas nowadays pilots come up through accumulating flight hours, attaining licenses, and ratings. Only once a pilot has achieved a certain level of experience, he/she will start working at a regional carrier of an airline.
From there, he/she will be promoted to a major carrier. However, in recent times this is changing with the “ab-initio” programs, where pilots are trained by a carrier from the ground up.
Will A “Learner” Pilot Operate A Flight?
The short answer is yes. After the pilot-in-training has completed both the classroom and simulator schooling with a particular aircraft model, they will fly under the command of the training captain for a set amount of hours.
This takes place in real circumstances where the aircraft flies with passengers on board. While it may seem slightly alarming to teach “learner” pilots in normal operations, this is the best way to prepare them.
How Much Does A Computer Fly The Plane Versus The Pilot?
Autopilot mode on flights is commonly misunderstood by the public. The pilot has a tremendous amount of protocols to do even in the most routine flights. Typical statements like “pilots spend just three minutes actually piloting their plane over the course of the typical flight” are misinterpreted.
What this actually means is that pilots today will spend little time with their hands physically on the control column but that doesn’t eradicate the routine job that still needs to be provided.
Why Do Planes Typically Fly At 35,000 Feet?
The altitude a plane flies at is dependent on the air traffic control allowance and that of the aircraft’s model (each has a maximum capacity). Usually, the higher a plan flies at, the less fuel is burned.
Typically speaking, cruising altitudes range from 30,000 feet through to 40,000 and just because a plane can cruise at a higher height, doesn’t mean it will every flight. Air traffic control might have another command depending on weather conditions, or the plane’s weight could affect this.
Why Do Planes Leave White Lines In The Sky?
The white trails planes leave in the sky is not smoke from the plane. They are condensation trails called contrails.
It happens when hot vapor from the plane meets the cool air in the atmosphere. The lines become visible. It’s similar to breathing in winter; the warm air from the nostrils creates a white smoke-like result.
Why Are There Tiny Holes On The Windows Of A Plane?
The tiny dot hole on a window of the plane is designed to help regulate the pressure within. Although it’s small, it serves a purpose.
Usually, the window is made of three layers of glasses. The hole serves a purpose, should the first layer of glass get damaged, the second one will remain intact and unaffected.
Can Planes Fly With One Engine?
Yes, planes can conveniently fly with just one engine. If a plane should have one of the engines turned off, it doesn’t mean it will crash.
In some cases, some planes can fly for 5 hours with just an engine. Some aircraft have a glide ratio that allows them to travel up to 1000 miles with no working engine at a high altitude. Such planes can be landed safely despite not running on an engine.
Are There Secret Rooms In A Plane?
Some have heard the rumors of secret rooms in an airplane. This is not true for all planes, only some of the larger ones. The purpose of these secret rooms usually located in the ceiling is to help crews traveling for close to 18 hours without rest to get some sleep.
The rooms are fitted with beds, a toilet, and light refreshments. It’s not a place where flight attendants run to avoid work; it’s strictly for taking needed rest.
Can The Tires Of A Plane Burst Due To Weight?
The answer is no. The tire is one of the strongest parts of a plane. It moves the entire weight of the plane before takeoff, and also places an important role when landing. The tire can withstand about 80 tons of weight.
On landing, the weight together with the speed of the plane of about (170 mph), is balanced without the tires bursting. Regular maintenance keeps the tires in good condition to prevent accidents on the runway.