Did you Know?

Read below for some Interesting Facts about Airports, Airlines and Air Travelling, that you probably didn’t know.

boeing1

  • All International Airline Pilots must speak English. The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standard is that English is the only official “universal” language for telephony in civil aviation. This essentially means that all official communications in the Air Traffic Control system should be available in English in order to be considered ICAO Compliant.
  • Flights longer than 8 hours require 3 pilots (1 captain and 2 first officers) to rotate flying duties. Flights longer than 12 hours require 4 pilots (1 captain and 3 first officers). They usually fly 3-4 hour shifts.

pilots

  • Though it’s technically not mandated by the FAA, each airline pilot flying the aircraft, eats a different meal to minimize the risk of all pilots on board being ill.
  • The height requirement for Flight Attendant is for safety reasons, making sure that all flight attendants can reach overhead safety equipment.
  • Dimming the lights for takeoff and landing isn’t a mood effect. It’s done so passengers’ eyes can adjust to the dark, just in case there’s an emergency that shuts off the lights. Similarly, flight attendants have passengers raise their window shades during landing, so they can see outside in an emergency and assess if one side of the plane is better for an evacuation.
  • Keeping the blinds open while take-off and landing is for the passengers to spot any fire in the wings or to spot any vehicles in the tarmac so they could alert the crew.
  • Instruction to fasten the seat belts and to make the seat upright while take-off and landing is primarily for the safety of the passengers. But it also stabilizes the centre of gravity of the aircraft and helps controlling the plane.
  • It’s impossible to lock yourself in the bathroom. Do you ever notice how the flight attendants flip a little switch on the lavatory door before takeoff and landing? That switch locks the door so it won’t fly open and can be flipped on or off at any time.
  • An air traveler can lose approximately 1.5 liters of water in the body during a three-hour flight. That dry air saps the water from your body, to the tune of about 8 ounces an hour, which is roughly a two-litre bottle during a 10-hour long-haul flight. Stay hydrated, friends.
  • You lose out on a third of your taste buds during flights. About a third of your taste buds are numbed at altitude, which is why the savory flavors in tomato juice are enhanced — a big reason why people crave Bloody Marys and think they taste so much better on planes.
  • The safety instructions on most flight include how to use the oxygen masks that are deployed when the plane experiences a sudden loss in cabin pressure. However, one that thing that the flight attendants don’t tell you is that oxygen masks only have about 15-minutes worth of oxygen. That sounds like a frighteningly short amount of time, but in reality that should be more than sufficient. Oxygen masks drop when the airplane cabin loses pressure, which means the plane is also losing altitude. Pilots respond to that situation by moving the plane to an altitude below 10,000 feet, where passengers can simply breathe normally, no extra oxygen required.

masks

  • Ever notice trails left by planes. Those white lines that planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation, hence their technical name of “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water vapor is pumped out of the exhaust and hits the cooler air of the upper atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky. It’s basically the same reaction as when you see your breath when it’s cold outside.
  • Some airplanes have secret bedrooms for flight crew. On long-haul flights, cabin crew can work 16-hour days. To help combat fatigue, some planes, like the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners, are outfitted with tiny bedrooms where the flight crew can get a little shut-eye. The bedrooms are typically accessed via a hidden staircase that leads up to a small, low-ceilinged room with 6 to 10 beds, a bathroom, and sometimes in-flight entertainment.

crew rest

  • The largest passenger plane was the Airbus 380 – nearly 240 feet long, almost 80 feet high, and has a wingspan of more than 260 feet. The double-decker plane with a standard seating capacity of 555 passengers is being retired after just 12 years in commercial service.  The A380 is expensive for airlines to fuel and maintain. Filling up an upwards of 550 plus seats look impressive on paper, but troublesome from a business perspective. The aviation industry is about “putting butts in seats,” as the saying goes. So if you can’t fill up those seats the airline is in serious trouble.
  • You ever notice that little hole in the bottom of your window? That little hole in the plane window might save your life. That’s the breather hole, and besides keeping in warm air so you don’t get too chilly, it regulates pressure — ensuring that should anything happen to the outer pane of the window, the pressure won’t cause the inner pane to break, at which point you’d suddenly be sucking in oxygen at 35,000 feet.

window

  • Usually, turbulence only drops you a few feet in the air. Though you might feel like you’re on the top floor of Tower of Terror, run-of-the-mill light turbulence only drops the plane a few feet in altitude. Moderate turbulence — the kind pilots tell the flight attendants to sit down for — moves the plane 10-20 feet. Severe, white-knuckle, talk-about-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life turbulence might move a plane 100 feet in the most extreme circumstances.
  • The average Boeing 747 has around 150-175 miles of wiring inside it…and about 6 million parts and is more fuel efficient than a hybrid.
  • Planes can fly with one engine, and land with none Not that the pilot is going to get on the intercom and tell you about it, but commercial jets are designed to fly with only one operable engine. And can glide their way to the ground with no engine power at all. So if your plane breaks down mid-air, you’ll still likely land in one piece!
  • There’s a red light on the left wing and a green light on the right. At night, it’s hard for pilots to see other aircraft. Every plane has a red light on the left wing and green on the right, so other pilots can easily identify which way the plane is facing and what direction it’s going.

lights

  • King Fahd International Airport, Dammam Saudi Arabia tops the list of the 10 largest airports in the world by size. With a total area of 780 square kilometers, the airport’s total area exceeds that of the country of Bahrain! Most of the property, however, is not put into use. In fact, only 37 square kilometers are dedicated for airport usage. That is only about 5%!

fahd

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the busiest airport in the world.  Retaining the title since 1997, Hartsfield-Jackson remains in the pole position,according to the Airports Council International’s world traffic report, which was released on Sept. 16, 2019. More than 107 million passengers scurried along its lengthy concourses, rode its underground train (the Plane Train) and were lifted up and down its vertigo-inducing escalators, making it the busiest passenger airport in the world for 21 years in a row.
  • Changi Airport Singapore is voted the World’s Best Airport 2019 by international air travellers for the seventh consecutive year.

-jewel-changi-retail

  • KLM -Royal Dutch Airlines is the worlds’ oldest airline which was established in 1919. It recently celebrated 100 years of flying high!

klm

 

-M

PC: BusinessInsider;Wired;TheTelegraph;Airbus;Dailymail

Qantas ‘Project Sunrise’

qantas dreamliner-1160x773

There is a palpable excitement in the air. The clock is ticking on, following the announcement that Qantas has put out on for testing an extremely long haul flight from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

Both Boeing and Airbus are working on providing an aircraft with ultra-long-range capabilities. The chosen plane needs to be capable of flying 10,573 miles nonstop, a journey which is pegged to take in the range of 21 hours in total.

Qantas will select the aircraft by end of this year. Till then the global attention is on the airline and speculation about its choice of aircraft is mounting.

‘Project Sunrise’ is Qantas’ goal to operate long haul research flights to gather data about both passenger and crew health on flying such a long journey. Three flights will be conducted in October, November and December and the data gathered will be used to track the health and well-being of passengers and crew members on board the approximately 19-hour long flight.

The Australian airline will carry 40 passengers and crew on two flights from New York to Sydney and another from London to Sydney.

The test passengers on the flights will mainly be Qantas employees, as well as scientists. Passengers and crew will be fitted with wearable technology devices to monitor sleep patterns and food and drink consumption, and to see how lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment impact their health.

For passengers the key will be in minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight.

For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during these flights.

Long-haul travel takes its toll on the body. Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots that can form particularly in the legs, is one peril. Nausea, Jet Lag and back pain from sitting for too long are another.   Airlines like Qantas will have to consider allowing more space for passengers to move if it goes ahead with its ambitious plan of across the world non- stop flight..

If all goes well, Qantas aims to operate regular, non-stop flights to London and New York from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as soon as 2022/23.

Frankly for business travellers this could be a time saver but I have my doubts whether any family with kids would be keen on taking this flight. It would be an absolute nightmare keeping the kids cooped up in such a long flight. The lack of space, boredom and sheer monotony of air travel would be such a bother even with business class seats –read flat beds.

What about you? Would you be sold to the idea of flying non- stop from Sydney to New York for 21 hours straight? Please share your views in the comments.

 

 

 

OS:SimpleFlying; AustralianAviation; Business Insider
PC: Qantas

 

 

What’s in a name ?

SpiceJet

Regular flyers might remember the type of aircraft they flew in; whether it was an Airbus A-320 or a Boeing 787.

But few will be able to tell if they flew on a Pretty Woman, Queen of the Skies , a Rosemary or a Turmeric?

Giving names to aircrafts is a practice that started with Viking’s ships, but the tradition is still being carried out today. Naming an aircraft is not just fun. There is history and reason to it too. Each aircraft has a name that embodies the brand value of the airline. It’s just the aspiration of flying around the world in a fun and glamorous way.

Airlines have different reasons for naming their aircraft. While some showcase aspects of the home country, others use it to highlight the places the airline flies to. Yet others want the names to be an extension of the airline’s image.

klm

Lufthansa names its planes after German cities,  Aer Lingus after Irish saints and KLM after a mix of birds, famous women and destinations. But perhaps the biggest enthusiast is Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic who has, as always made naming part of the brand strategy and the image of fun he projects for Virgin.  They call their aircraft ‘flying ladies’  with names of movies such as ‘Barbarella’ or ‘Pretty Woman’, or songs like ‘Jersey Girl’, ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘Mustang Sally’ or fairy tales like ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

virgin

When Air India got the Boeing 747, it decided to name the aircraft after Indian emperors or Indian states while the smaller aircraft were named after rivers.

air india

It’s a very interesting story as to how the aircrafts of SpiceJet got their names.

Sitting at a luncheon at Imperial hotel in Delhi, the CEO and the promoter were going through some intense brain storming sessions on various aspects of setting up the airline in India.

Amongst the other things agreed upon, some of those that stand out are the fact that the airline must have an  ‘Indianness’  to its name. It was so ironic that they were seated at an Indian restaurant ‘Spice Route’.

And so SpiceJet was born.

spicejet 2

Keeping in tune with the bold characteristic of the airline and its “Red” livery, the management appropriately decided to christen each aircraft with a unique name of the Indian spices.

The airline today has aircraft called coriander, chilly, turmeric, red chilli, mustard, pepper and heeng.

Although the English names were there from the start of the airlines, but when they got the smaller Bombardiers for regional flights they decided to use the Indian names for spices such as Heeng, Dhania and Elaichi. In all 75 names of spices have been christened so far.

So the next time you fly SpiceJet, as you get down from the bus on the tarmac and wait to climb the steps, do remember to take a look at the front of the plane and see a name painted near the nose just under the cockpit.

In fact it’s not unusual to see the millennial flyers taking to social media, to share SpiceJet’s  quirky aircraft names on the social media platform to show which aircraft they have flown on.

spiceroute

Incidentally even the in-flight magazine of SpiceJet is called Spice Route.

 

 

Fun quiz

Identify this spice & Leave your reply in the comments.

This spice was a  precious commodity traded between Arabs and Venetians during the Middle Ages. Imparting an invaluable flavour in cooking and the preparation of drinks, it also has a strong symbolic value and even appears on the National flag of a country. There is one recipe whose secret has never been revealed: that of Coca-Cola. Well, this spice is supposed to be one of its mysterious ingredients…

 

 

PC: Air India;KLM;Virgin Atlantic; SpiceJet