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Revealing Some Of “The Secrets Your Pilots Won't Tell You."

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Revealing Some Of “The Secrets Your Pilots Won't Tell You."

Old Nov 10th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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Revealing Some Of “The Secrets Your Pilots Won't Tell You."

Despite recent articles in popular magazines like Reader's Digest, there are no “35 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You” that should change the way you fly or prevent you from having a pleasant airline experience. Sensationalizing the issues for the sake of selling more magazines is a general disservice to the flying public. Tell the public the truth about the issues and let them become more informed consumers. There is already enough stress in air travel without giving passengers more unecessary things to worry about.
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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AIRLINE FUELING

A captain at a major airline is quoted as saying, “I'm constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I'm comfortable with”.

In my opinion this is pure Jerry Springer 101, stupid sensationalism. Watch out seat belts are going to start flying!

The amount of fuel an airline is required to carry is determined by longstanding Federal (FAA) laws and regulations. At minimum, for a domestic flight a commercial aircraft must have enough fuel to fly to it's original destination plus to an alternate airport (if required because of known or forecast poor weather at the original destination) and then for an additional 45 minutes of flying. For international flights airlines are required to carry more fuel compared to a domestic flight.

In addition to the minimum legal fuel requirement airlines carry more fuel based on weather and historical known delays (air traffic control, airport construction, etc). This is known as contingency fuel. The final amount of fuel that is carried is agreed upon by the flight dispatcher and the flight captain.

However, this is not a simple process. Every airplane has weight limitations for fuel, passengers and cargo. On a given flight if you fill up the airplane with fuel then you can limit passengers and cargo. Airlines work to optimize this combination sometimes using complex computations and historical data. Carrying more fuel than necessary is an additional expense. A heavy airplane burns more fuel whether the extra weight comes from passengers, fuel or cargo. Unfortunately, only passengers and cargo pay to be on the airplane. With thousands of flight operating daily this combined cost can be significant reaching maybe tens of thousands of dollars per day. Yes, it does affect the bottom line but airlines are in business to make money and the bottom line matters like in any other business.

The important issue here is I would not want to be on an airplane operated by a captain that felt “uncomfortable” before we even left the gate. As a passenger, I trust the airline and it's employees to put my safety first. The captain of my flight is the last line of defense for this to happen and he or she should not be “uncomfortable” in doing so.

The real secret here is not the amount of fuel put on the airplane but a captain that operates in a situation that he is uncomforable with. FAA rules, company policy, common sense and safety demands that no crew member should voluntarily operate a flight in an uncomfortable situation. These rules, policies and contractual responsibilities protect employees from being pressured into doing something that can eventual be unsafe. The captain has final authority to operate the flight and should not do so if he or she is pressured or uncomfortable. Passengers deserve better.

http://dmbflyingcoach.blogspot.com/2....htmlRevealing
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Are you a pilot?
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 12:36 PM
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No, he is a troll who appears from time to time and is best served when ignored.
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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Of course, rizzuto can't seem to ignore me
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 12:42 AM
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The headline is misleading, but most of the statements make sense to me like these:

“Pilots find it perplexing that so many people are afraid of turbulence. It’s all but impossible for turbulence to cause a crash. We avoid turbulence not because we’re afraid the wing is going to fall off but because it’s annoying.” -Patrick Smith

“People always ask, ‘What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?’ I tell them it was a van ride from the Los Angeles airport to the hotel, and I’m not kidding.” -Jack Stephan

“I’ve been struck by lightning twice. Most pilots have. Airplanes are built to take it. You hear a big boom and see a big flash and that’s it. You’re not going to fall out of the sky.” -Pilot for a regional carrier, Charlotte, North Carolina

“We don’t make you stow your laptop because we’re worried about electronic interference. It’s about having a projectile on your lap. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get hit in the head by a MacBook going 200 miles per hour.” -Patrick Smith

“We ask you to put up the window shade so the flight attendants can see outside in an emergency, to assess if one side is better for an evacuation. It also lets light into the cabin if it goes dark and helps passengers get oriented if the plane flips or rolls over.” -Patrick Smith
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 06:31 AM
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That is my point. What is so secret about things that make sense?

I don't know any pilots that are perplexed that people are afraid of turbulence. Airlines and pilots basically avoid turbulence when possible because they are aware of their passenger concerns and uncomfortableness with it.

I think any pilot that has been struck by lighting twice would not be around to talk about it unless he or she is one lucky cat

For the most part, passengers are never aware of lighting strikes on the aircraft. What they see or possibly hear is the storms producing the convective activity.

I agree being on the ground is probably the scariest part of working in the industry. Air travel is still by far the safest mode of transportation.

The physics required for a laptop to go 200 miles per hour is next to impossible in an aircraft. If your laptop goes 200 mph then you have bigger problems to worry about. Laptops and other carry on luggage are stored during take off and landings to allow for easier evacuation during an emergency. Of course, taking off is the most critical phase of flight except for maybe some pilots landings

I don't know the last time an airplane has “flipped or rolled over”. Most airplanes break apart in a crash which can sometimes be helpful in evacuating the airplane. Only some airlines require window shades to be up during take-off and landings. It does help in determining a proper evacuation route but passengers SHOULD FOLLOW CREW INSTRUCTIONS in an emergency. In previous incidents passengers have been unnecessarily hurt or evacuated the airplane when it was not required.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 07:23 AM
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You're mistaken about laptops not going 200 mph. All unsecured items in the aircraft become projectiles in a crash, with a speed equal to the highest speed of the aircraft at impact. Thus, if an aircraft impacts with terrain at 200 mph, all loose objects will begin moving through the cabin at a speed that will ultimately reach 200 mph when the aircraft itself has come to a stop. Laptops can slice through bulkheads at this speed, and they can also decapitate passengers.

Passengers are almost as likely to notice (or not notice) a lightning strike. Pilots may see instrument or systems anomalies that call their attention to the strike, although they might not know that it's a lightning strike.

Accidents are more likely during landing than during takeoff. Both phases of flight are more likely to result in accidents than the cruise portion of a flight. The worst thing that can happen on an aircraft in cruise is generally a fire. Smoking in lavatories is a leading cause of in-flight fires.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 02:28 PM
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The point of my posting and response is that “The Secrets Pilots Won't Tell You” are no secrets at all, it is only common sense issues. Furthermore, focusing on issues like storing a laptop over look more important safety issues like requiring infants to be secured in child-seat instead of on the lap of an adult.

Any object can become a projectile in a crash but again if you are worried about a laptop going 200 mph, you have a BIGGER PROBLEM to worry about. Any projectile needs room to accelerate and I imagine in a crash there will be a lot of other objects like seat backs and other passengers to slow your laptop down. To me, the requirements for a projectile to reach 200mph in an airplane is the least of my worries when I travel. A well trained, experienced and rested flight crew is probably a little bit more important to me.

Unless a lighting strike occurs directly near a window seat, passengers would not have a clue a lighting strike has happen. Most airplanes are well insulated for such incidents and most of the discharge from a lighting strike is dissipated in the airframe. If it were easy for airplane to be affected by lighting strikes it would certainly limit their operating areas. Even pilots maybe unaware of lighting strikes and it is often noted on post or pre-flight inspections.

In theory all accidents happen on landing unless you have a mid-air collision. However, taking off is the most critical phase of flight. Ask, a pilot he or she will tell you so. If an airplane remains airborne after a problem during take-off, it will be maneuvered around for a normal (emergency) landing. However, if it cannot remain airborne then you can say in theory it crashed on landing. Airline pilots are trained and tested on a yearly basis, sometimes less depending on the airline, for these very type of situations that can occur during take-off.

Most accidents that occur during landing are weather related or result from a lapse in pilot judgment or some catastrophic failure that renders the airplane uncontrollable.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 10:46 PM
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SMOOTH LANDINGS

According to "The 35 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You",

“At some airports with really short runways, you’re not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are: John Wayne Airport; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Chicago Midway; and Reagan National.”

There is an old saying in aviation that a landing is nothing more than a controlled crash and to a certain extent that is true. However a "smooth" landing is one where passengers are hardly aware that the airplane is on the ground.

This can happen at any airport with the right conditions and piloting skills despite whatever secret your pilot won't tell you.

John Wayne Airport (SNA), Jackson Hole (JAC), Chicago Midway (MDW) and Reagan National (DCA) can present pilots with some unique challenges but I have experienced some smooth and not so smooth landings at most of them.

There are several factors that go into a smooth landing but the basic concept is that the aircraft must have a near zero rate of descent when it contacts the runway. Weather conditions like wind, rain or snow can affect a pilot's ability to make this happen as the airplane transitions from a descent to a landing.

How can you tell the smoothness of a landing if you are not a passenger? Just watch for the amount of smoke produced when the main wheels touch down. If your eyes start burning then you can bet a few passengers on board are going to need to see a chiropractor.

However, you can rest assured it was not the airplane or the pilot's fault, it was the asp-fault!
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Old Nov 16th, 2010, 10:11 AM
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A laptop doesn't need room to accelerate, since it is already moving at the speed of the aircraft. It will be decelerated to some extent by whatever it hits (bulkhead, seat, body, terrain).

Airplanes are not insulated against lightning strikes; this isn't possible. The airframe does not dissipate lightning, it merely serves as part of the total conduction path.
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 02:54 AM
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How can a laptop already be accelerating if it is at rest in your lap? In theory if the laptop is accelerating "at rest" then everything else in the airplane is accelerating when the aircraft is moving.

The point you seem to be missing is that an accelerating (200mph) laptop that would cause major damage would require a crash type scenario, again you have got a bigger problem. If storing projectiles (laptops) were a real safety issues then the FAA would not allow lap children on board!

Items are stored primarily for emergency evacution purposes. In a crash laptops would not be the only items flying around.

Airplanes and "their on board systems" are to a great extent insulated from the effects of lighting strikes and electrical disturbances that might occur as a result of flight.

No manufacture can stop an airplane from being struck by lighting but they can minimize the effects by providing insulation and discharge mechanisms in the aircraft design.

If this were not the case lighting strikes which occur more often than realized would cause major damage to the airframe.

If there is a conduction path, where does the energy from a lighting strike end up?
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 04:18 AM
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Ok, time to alter some misconceptions.

"How can a laptop already be accelerating if it is at rest in your lap?"
It is at rest only relative to the lap (and the rest of the aircraft). Should the aircraft come to a sudden halt the unsecured laptop would not and would be seen to "shoot" forwards off the lap at roughly the same speed it (and the entire aircraft) had been traveling prior to the stop. From the observer's (passenger's) viewpoint it would appear to accellerate to that 200 mph.

We all experience this almost daily. A sudden braking action in a car and we (and our stuff) seem to be "thrown" forward when in actuality, we are continuing at the same speed and the vehicle is decellerating beneath us. Same thing with objects flying off tables during an earthquake.

"If storing projectiles (laptops) were a real safety issues then the FAA would not allow lap children on board"
In an ideal world, true. However the FAA also has the mission of "promoting" aviation and they determined once upon a time that it was better to allow the lap children than to provide the safety measures, based on the premise that if not flying the families would drive and that presents a greater risk of injury to the children. So it is a political issue, not one of science.

"If there is a conduction path, where does the energy from a lighting strike end up?"
The energy passes through the aircraft and out the other side (or, more correctly, out at one or more exit points). Actually 99% of the energy passes along the outer metal skin of the aircraft and mever "enters" the aircraft. The aircraft is simply like a piece of wire in the middle of a current. The energy continues on to wherever such energy goes and most probably, at altitude, ends up in a cloud somewhere.
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 05:47 AM
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"If there is a conduction path, where does the energy from a lighting strike end up?"
The energy passes through the aircraft and out the other side (or, more correctly, out at one or more exit points). Actually 99% of the energy passes along the outer metal skin of the aircraft and mever "enters" the aircraft. The aircraft is simply like a piece of wire in the middle of a current. The energy continues on to wherever such energy goes and most probably, at altitude, ends up in a cloud somewhere."

Agreed. There are also grounding straps that connect the Airframe to the engine to ground the airframe via the engine.
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 07:03 AM
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Ok, I will beat the laptop horse just one more time, I think.

For a laptop to accelerate from your lap (shoot forward) the airplane would have come to a sudden halt. The speed of the laptop would be relative to the speed of the airplane decelerating. Therefore for the laptop to go 200mph the airplane must be slowing from a speed around 200mph.

The only time this occurs on most commercial flights is during an aborted takeoff where speeds normally do not reach 200mph prior to an abort or during a crash. Furthermore, seat backs or bulk heads will restrict or slow down any projectiles.

Where is “Myth Busters” when you need them? This would probably be a good submission.

Yes, part of the FAA's role is to promote aviation but politics can often interfere with safety. The NTSB which investigates accidents have made many recommendations to enhance aviation safety that have been ignored by the FAA for political reasons. Unfortunately, it takes a few accidents, incidents or even deaths for the FAA to put public safety ahead of politics.

As an example, pilot fatigue issues have been raised on numerous occasions by the NTSB. The issue is just now being taken seriously by the FAA. The catalyst? Over 50 people losing their lives more than a year ago in Buffalo, New York.

I think my 200mph laptop horse is dead
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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My Lighting Horse

If 99% of the energy passes along the outer metal of the aircraft and never enters the airplane does this not support the following earlier postings?

“Most airplanes are well insulated for such incidents and most of the discharge from a lighting strike is dissipated in the airframe.”

Thanks for the science lesson!
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 07:54 AM
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The laptop question which I addressed was that of accelleration to 200 mph, and it would occur if the aircraft were going 200 mph. Or 100 at 100, etc. Your more practical point of that being a crash scenario it also true, but not the contention being addressed.

As to the lightening, dissipation means the item of concern is being made to be irrevocably lost. That is not what happens in this case where the lightening bolt basically comes off the plane at a different point and can continue like a bolt. It's not at all like fog being dissipated. (I apologize for not being clear on that action.)
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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NoFlyZone

The point of contention is that you don't have to worry about a laptop going 200mph in an airplane! If you do then you have got bigger problems.

Your explanations about laptops and lighting strikes were clear to me and I think shed some light on the physics and probability of both things happening and having a negative impact on passengers air travel experiences.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 07:00 AM
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DA PLANE, DE-ICE, DELAY

Winter months with the constant threat of snow and ice is the time of the year when weather can greatly affect your travel plans. However, understanding a bit of airline winter operations may help you have a better travel experience.

When there is snow or ice at your departure or arrival airport, airlines, airports and air traffic control normally put “winter ops” into effect. For airlines it means having an effective deicing program, for airports it's snow plowing airport surfaces and for air traffic control it means metering, take-off and landing timed slots (delays).


For an airplane to safely fly, accumulated snow and ice on the airplane's critical surfaces like the wings and tail section must be removed. These elements disrupt the smooth flow of air across the wings and tail which seriously degrade these surfaces ability to produce lift. Producing lift is essential for the airplane to fly.

Deicing is usually a two step process and passengers are informed by the flight crew when this is required. The fact that it is snowing does not mean that the airplane needs to be deiced. Deicing is only necessary if the snow is sticking (accumulating) on the critical surfaces of the airplane. The airplane must just be free and clear of snow and ice prior to take-off.


Snow or ice on the aircraft is first removed (de-iced) with a warm glycol type solution before a preventive solution (anti-ice) is applied if it is warranted by weather conditions. A 10-20 minute process that depends on the current airplane and weather conditions. There are time and weather limitations to the safety protection of de-icing. Should the weather conditions change or if there are lengthy delays for take-off your flight may have to be deiced a second time.

Fortunately, airlines build extra time into their winter schedules to allow for such events. This should lead to minimum delays for your flight. However, due to the new passenger bill of rights, airlines may cancel flights if delays will exceed the new rules time limits.

One minor effect of ground de-icing is that sometimes deicing fluid is sucked into the aircraft air condition system. This can be noticed in the form of a sweet smell during initial taxi out or departure. However, the odor will dissipate en route to your destination. Once in the air, the airplane's on board anti-ice system (normally hot air from the engines) keeps critical areas free of snow and ice.

Deicing and winter ops are just part of the process that allows airlines to safely take you to your destination when Mother Nature wants to wreak havoc on your travel plans.


Photos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxmPAyOFYZw
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 01:26 PM
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Re: Lightning striking an airplane, or a car for that matter: The metal skin of the vehicle forms a Faraday Cage. The electrical potential within a faraday cage is zero. the entire charge is carried on the surface. The contents is safe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage
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