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How does this plane stay in the air, anyway? In From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science, pilot, meteorologist, and flight-school instructor Doug Morris lets you take the window seat on a trip around the world, giving you the scoop on everything from take-off to landing. He explains what you see looking out the window, what that window is made of, and how the plane is kept in rigorous flying condition. Perfect for informing the aviation enthusiast and calming the fearful flier, From the Flight Deck tells you everything you want to know about commercial airline travel: With facts, trivia, humour, and illuminating photos throughout, From the Flight Deck is the ultimate flight companion.

Doug Morris is a certified meteorologist and an airline pilot with more than 15, flight hours logged. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Read more Read less. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Questions, Answers, and Reflections. Review "Filled with information for frequent and fearful flyers, aviation enthusiasts, pilots in training and the general public. Morris writes in a lively and entertaining style, pulling back the curtain on the world of aviation.

Start reading From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. They are stowed during cruising and are controlled by hydraulic motors. You may have seen them extend in increments as the pilot configures the airplane for landing.

On top of the back part of the wing many airplanes have rectangular boards that extend upward, which are called air brakes. They are used to slow the airplane down or to increase the rate of descent. If the left aileron goes up, the one on the right wing automatically goes down, and the aircraft rolls to the left. Next to the ailerons are spoilers, which look very similar to ailerons and also aid in banking the aircraft.

Upon landing, they double as ground spoilers, extending up from the wing to slow the airplane down — much like a deployed chute behind a drag racer. Aside from lifting the airplane, wings provide storage space for literally tons of fuel, as well as vast quantities of cables, wires, fuel pumps, hydraulic motors, and fuel sensors. Many aircraft also use the wings to mount the engines and store the landing gear.

Tubes run along the inside leading edge, carrying warm air from the engines to act as a deicer, and along the back edge of the wing are static wicks, which are metal rods or wires designed to release any buildup of static electricity. The wing of a modern airliner is truly a wonder of physics when you consider the intense amount of lift required to support a metric-ton ton aircraft speeding through the sky at 80 percent of the speed of sound. Sometimes, if the air is very moist, the intense low pressure above the wings can cause the air to quickly condense, forming a cloud directly over the wing — yet another aspect of the physics of flight you can watch out for from your window seat.

Boeing and Next time you get a window seat overlooking the wing, try to identify some of its components.


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But the higher an airplane can soar the smaller its windows must be. The small size of commercial aircraft windows is necessary to withstand the forces of a pressurized cabin. This is why, for example, the windows of the Concorde — which operated at a very high altitude and cabin pressure — are so tiny. Ever wonder what airplane windows are made of?

Each window is actually comprised of two panes; both the inner and outer pane are made of acrylic. Sometimes when looking out the window you may notice it appears to be crystalline or has a milky glaze to it. This is a normal phenomenon called crazing, which is caused by water being slowly excreted out of the window at high altitudes because of inside—outside pressure differences. Windows also lose their gleam due to atmospheric conditions, such as abrasive volcanic ash.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens was particularly hard on aircraft. Like anything else on an airplane, windows are scrutinized for wear and tear, and any scratches are measured and monitored. There are rigorous specifications for windows: This ensures your view is a good one. The flight deck my office has completely different windows. They are larger and made of glass. Some can open and are, consequently, much more expensive. The two front windows, depending on the manufacturer, usually consist of three glass panes with electronic coils sandwiched between them that heat the panes.

All flight deck windshields The view through the doublemust meet stringent requirements in paned passenger window order to withstand incidents such as the impact of a bird. Flight deck windows must be certified to handle bird strikes at various airspeeds. An actual bird is fired through a cannon-type launcher into the flight deck window.

Having windows makes the cabin a much more pleasurable environment. At a cruising altitude of 39, feet 11, m on a clear day you can see some miles km , giving new meaning to a room with a view. Some facts to ponder: Take the square root of your altitude in feet and multiply by 1. Two words to describe the modern-day jet engine are efficient and reliable. Not only do they supply a hefty 53, pounds of thrust, they also provide electrical power for the entire airplane, drive pumps to pressurize the hydraulic system, supply air to pressurize the cabin, deliver warm air to deice the leading edges of the wings, and more.

Our flight to Hong Kong will involve stepping to higher altitudes as the fuel load lessens and the aircraft lightens. Generally, the higher the better because jet engines are more efficient the higher they go. They pack a punch and they have some interesting characteristics. Forward Force The advent of the jet engine during World War ii ushered in a new era in aviation. Airplanes could now fly higher and faster.

Just how does a jet engine work? Simply stated, pushing air rearward moves the aircraft forward, in the same way that when you release the end of an An Embraer engine at rest inflated balloon the escaping air propels it across the room. A jet engine takes in air and compresses it. Combustion then takes place, and the engine expels the air back into the atmosphere at a velocity higher than the air outside. Newer airliners, like the Airbus A, have four highbypass jet engines with intake fans over eight feet 2. High-bypass engines are known for their fuel efficiency and significantly quieter ride.

These engines are at their most fuel efficient at higher altitudes where the air is thinner. The engine might burn less fuel at high altitudes, but the thrust is also much less. At cruise altitude an engine produces much less thrust, but the thinner air allows the aircraft to fly faster.

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This is the primary reason for flying at over 35, feet 10, m. Since winds generally increase with height, they become a significant factor at such high altitudes, so flight dispatchers are constantly juggling all the variables to find the ideal altitude for a given day. Airliners with larger engines need an additional air source, which comes from either a ground power cart or an auxiliary power unit apu , a small jet engine located in the tail. The apu also supplies electrical power and air conditioning to the aircraft while it is on the ground.

Pilots control jet engines from the flight deck by using thrust levers. When power is needed to climb higher, the onboard computers send a signal to the engine to produce more power without the pilot having to touch the thrust levers. On landing, reversing the thrust helps the airplane decelerate by deflecting air forward. Amazingly, every five seconds a CFM-powered airplane takes off somewhere in the world.

CFM combines engineering expertise with the services of two major aircraft engine manufacturers: They are removed from the airplane for an overhaul. Of the 9 different engine types 4 are serviced in-house and 5 are outsourced. EGT exhaust gas temperature. But the inside of the wing also plays another major role for an aircraft: And for a jumbo jet that translates into tons and tons of aviation fuel.

The wings are subdivided into several fuel tanks with fuel pumps, backup pumps, and accurate fuel gauges. Some airplanes also store fuel in the center portion of the belly and tail. When the little refuel light comes on in the cockpit of our Airbus A series, it signals a vitally important and surprisingly complex step in the flight preparations. During the nearly two hours that this light is on, tons metric tons of jet fuel will be delivered to top up the tanks to tons metric tons for a long-haul flight from Toronto to Hong Kong.

Preparations for our flight actually begin hours before that little light goes on. To calculate the ideal fuel load for the trip, a dispatcher uses a sophisticated flight-planning program that incorporates wind and weather forecasts, the most efficient flying altitudes, available routes, and other factors. According to our flight plan, the A will fly for six hours over northern Canada, consuming 8. Near the North Pole, the aircraft will have burned off enough fuel so it will be lighter and its optimum altitude will therefore be higher.

For greater efficiency, the lighter aircraft then climbs to a higher altitude, further cutting the drag so the aircraft will need less thrust to fly. As a result, the fuel-burn rate drops. The fuel load must also be sufficient to get us to an alternate airport in case of bad weather. On this flight to Hong Kong, the alternate is Macao, China. It is the fuel necessary to carry the aircraft for an extra 30 minutes beyond the most cautious contingency plan. After taking all the factors into account, the dispatcher then calculates the fuel load to within kilograms lb.

When the refuel light on the flight deck goes out, the fueler enters the flight deck with the fuel slip. My job is to ensure that all the readings tally. The distribution of that fuel is also crucial. It is stored in multiple tanks inside the main wings, and a few additional tons are stowed in the tail. I signal to the fueler that the fuel load is correct and perfectly balanced. Fuel is the greatest single expenditure for most airlines, aside from salaries, so saving fuel is always a consideration — especially in these days of skyrocketing prices. Throughout our trip the flight deck crew and dispatchers keep a watchful eye on the routing and flight level in order to economize fuel.

In Hong Kong the weather is good, as predicted, and fuel consumption is spot-on. After 16 hours in the air, the airplane noses into the gate, then we set the park brake and shut down the remaining two engines. When the captain and I finish our checks in the flight deck, a fresh crew arrives for the return flight. Just as we begin briefing them, the refuel light goes on and the process begins again.

Fuel The fuel requirement for the nearly hour flight to Hong Kong is , liters 47, gal. It will take about two hours to fill the wing, belly, and tail fuel tanks with enough fuel for 3, Civics. My Civic fuel consumption pales in comparison to the guzzle rate of more than 10, liters per hour gal. But bear in mind that flying is still deemed the most economical way to travel. Wheels It takes 14 wheels to support the weight of my airliner, with tires made by Goodyear.

Each tire has its own individual file and can be retreaded, but there are strict guidelines on wear. For racing drivers, laying some rubber is part of their job, but for pilots the challenge is a smooth landing that leaves as little rubber as possible. Unlike a car tire, an aircraft tire is filled with nitrogen. They may heat up quickly, and with air containing approximately 20 percent oxygen, a fire threat would loom.

This is virtually eliminated by using nitrogen. This unreactive gas also prolongs tire life by not allowing oxidation and rust formation inside the wheel. An Airbus A tips the scales at metric tons tons — about Civics. Two pedals in front of each pilot control the brakes, but they differ from those on a car by having a left and right set of brakes. The A also has reverse thrust to slow down and spoilers that deploy, acting much the same way as a parachute in high-performance dragsters. These speeds vary and are based on weight, wind, temperature, runway conditions, and so on.

Airplane Tails Some of the most exuberant aviation enthusiasts are airplane watchers. Recently I met a couple from London, England, while on the passenger-transfer bus. In fact, even while I was talking to them the husband stopped the conversation to have his wife write down newfound airplane registrations. Devoted aviation buffs like this British couple jot down registration numbers and pull out their cameras as airplanes pass overhead. This registration number begins with a code letter. Most airlines also include a flight identification number, or fin, on the tail to differentiate the aircraft in their fleet.

But the differences between one tail and another go deeper than just the paint job. Throughout aviation history, designers have built aircraft with some very distinguishable tails. Looks aside, the tail provides directional stability as the aircraft moves through the air and is home to a control surface called the rudder. Functioning much like the rudder on a boat, the rudder on a plane is a vertically hinged wing located on the trailing edge of the vertical stabilizer.

It can be steered to the left or right, and pilots use foot pedals on the floor of the flight deck to control it. Also in the tail section are the horizontal stabilizer and the elevator. As its name suggests, the elevator points the airplane up or down. Pulling back on the control yoke or the joystick in an Airbus aims the nose upward. Modern airliners have only one fin at the tail, with the Lockheed Super Constellation horizontal stabilizer and elevator attached either high above or level with the main wings.

On the Boeing er, the tail towers over 61 feet 18 m , or 6 stories high. Inside this unpressurized cavern are aluminum ribs, miles of wires, cables, hydraulic lines, and motors that move the large control surfaces. The supporting fuselage also houses the auxiliary power unit, which is an additional jet engine that supplies conditioned air and electricity while on the ground. Who knows, you may even be tempted to write down the flight identification number yourself. You start with a large fortune.

They must be in the air to make money. For most of the day they fly with minimum ground stops. While parked at the gate, passengers, baggage, and freight are unloaded, and groomers invade the interior, readying it for the next flight. The fueler is hooked up; the caterers open the doors to exchange the old galley for new commissary, and maintenance performs their checks. A new batch of pilots and flight attendants may join this pit stop operation. Bound for Toronto, fin was carefully looked over by maintenance during the night shift.

An outside heater is hooked up, external ground power is connected, lavatories are serviced, the last of the cabin grooming is done, and the commissary is boarded. Some liters gal. Toronto-based pilots are in the flight-planning office perusing the flight plan; the Halifax-based flight attendants are in their pre-flight briefing. Ten minutes later, the 30, pounds of thrust from each engine pounce the metricton 77 ton airplane into the air. Air traffic control, flight dispatch, maintenance control, and Toronto operations are just a few of the many departments monitoring the progress of Flight Once landed at Pearson International Airport, the Toronto-based crew brings fin to the finish of its first leg of the day.

The crew will continue on to Calgary on another aircraft, fin , an Airbus A Unlike the A, the A has no cargo containers so everything, including that precious shipment of lobster, is unloaded manually. Montreal-based pilots and flight attendants will then take fin from Toronto to Chicago, and back. But before they do, fuel and commissary are restocked again. Also, seat 24C will not recline so the Toronto maintenance team boards the plane during the 40minute stop.

While taxiing in Chicago, the captain decides to shut down one engine to save on fuel. More fuel is boarded, but this time the quantity is in gallons. The fuel computers quickly and easily convert the gallons to liters, confirming the proper amount. Additional fuel is added because flight dispatch sees a weak snowstorm moving in from Manitoba; Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau is the backup airport, in case the weather deteriorates in Toronto. Yet another flight crew boards fin in Toronto, this time destined for Winnipeg, Manitoba. The aviation forecast has snow starting in Toronto at 5: On the climb out of Toronto the top of the clouds is some 30, feet m , a phenomenon associated with the incoming weather system.

Not a problem for the A; it cruises at 37, feet 11, m , in clear and smooth air. The landing in Winnipeg is a beauty and the passengers tell the pilot so upon leaving, something a pilot loves to hear. During the walk-around by Winnipeg maintenance see page 39 , the team notices one tire is wearing a little. A call is made to Toronto to arrange a replacement for later tonight. Today it has accumulated 12 flight hours and seven landings on its airframe. Since its purchase in , fin has clocked over 27, hours, with close to 13, takeoffs and landings.

The pilots do their shutdown checks while maintenance waits by the flight deck door to taxi fin to a warm, cozy hangar for the night. Just Checking Safety is a must for any airline, and maintenance is a big part of the safety equation. There are a series of checks every aircraft must go through every day. Even aircraft tires have their own log of takeoffs and landings. He or she is doing a last-minute check for anything out of the ordinary — from fuel leaks and tire wear, to dents and holes caused by the approach of ground vehicles.

The mandatory walk-around is the most basic of an extensive list of maintenance checks carried out by teams of specialists to ensure the airworthiness of an aircraft. Next in ranking is a trip check, which is a walk-around done by maintenance personnel at designated bases. The third type of check is a service check, which must be completed on every aircraft every 48 hours.

It includes an inspections review of aircraft systems and lubricant levels. In addition, any problems reported in either the cabin-defect or aircraft-defect logbooks are forwarded to maintenance staff in order for them to repair specific faults prior to each departure. To ensure structural integrity, workability, and reliability, aircraft manufacturers stipulate that these checks must be performed in accordance with government regulations. Scheduling Air Canada airplanes to receive their appropriate checks can be a major task, especially since the requirements of four aircraft manufacturers must be satisfied.

To tackle the job, Air Canada technical-operations employees are located in two main overhaul bases: The most extensive of the advanced checks is the H check. To see an airplane being built is quite a sight, but to see one being completely dismantled during an H check is even more amazing. There, a team of specialists, divided into three shifts, operate on it around the clock for nearly 47 days. No system goes untouched.

Even the flight deck becomes unrecognizable as the seats are removed, and the panels and floors are lifted up, exposing bundles of wires, cables, instruments, radios, and computers. The cabin, too, is subjected to rigorous inspection. The inner walls and ceilings are dismantled, floors are taken up, seats and galleys are removed.

With the aircraft up on jacks, the landing gear is removed, the flight controls rudder, elevators, ailerons, spoilers, flaps are taken off, and the engines are separated from their pylons.

The frame is also closely inspected for possible corrosion, which could be caused by something as innocuous as coffee spilled around the galleys. The wings remain attached, but all of their panels are opened, exposing fuel tanks, wires, and tubing. Each and every component is tested, including slides passenger chutes used for evacuation , the infamous black boxes, and cockpit voice recorders. In addition, many of the removed components go through rigorous non-destructive testing ndt , done by X-ray, ultrasound, or conductivity tests.

Pressurization checks are also performed and the landing gear is cycled numerous times. Once all the obligatory checks are done and everything is recorded and documented, the dismantled aircraft is put back together. New galleys are installed, seats are refurbished, a fresh coat of paint is applied, and new carpeting is fitted. This interior makeover gives the impression that the airplane has just rolled off the production line. And, in a sense, it has. From the basic walk-around to the extensive H check, the intense scrutiny that all aircraft undergo ensures that they run like new. Only small airplanes require a key.

Yes, many modern airliners are equipped for auto-lands under specific circumstances. No, automatic takeoffs do not exist. Where is aircraft fuel stored? Many airports have fuel reservoirs embedded in the tarmac. How do you steer an airplane on the ground? By a tiller a hand-operated device that turns the nose wheel. How do you stop an airplane after landing?

Through the use of brakes, reverse thrust, and ground spoilers. Toronto to Hong Kong! Coming in second, by only five minutes, was New Delhi, India, direct to Toronto, which traversed 13 countries. Check-in time for passengers is two hours before departure, but a multitude of behind-the-scenes teams are already working on the flight by that time. Included in this lengthy flight plan are the routing, altitudes to be flown, fuel burns, pertinent notes on airports along the route, weather, aircraft snags, and so on.

They watch every move we make; part of their duty is following flights. Here an elite group of dispatchers works around the clock, planning and monitoring more than flights a day. Phones are constantly ringing, and the energy level is high as dispatchers analyze weather patterns and make crucial decisions about when and where airplanes will fly. Brian MacCourt, a year veteran with Air Canada now retired, was the chief of flight dispatch and took me on a tour of the operation.

He moved easily amid the networks of computer terminals and communications equipment. After all, he helped design this high-tech workplace. The control center has 16 dispatch stations. Each one is identical, with four computer terminals and a communications system capable of storing numerous radio frequencies and telephone numbers. The on-duty chief dispatcher sits on an elevated platform as display terminals provide the whereabouts and up-to-the-minute status of every airplane in the fleet.

Each station regularly has nearly a dozen sometimes over 20 programs up and running at a time. One of those programs may be the feed from air traffic control making the details of every flight only a mouse click away. Whenever a dispatcher has to leave his or her station another dispatcher is assigned to fill in.

After a few tense moments, she receives a data link message that the aircraft is fine. She then quickly briefs the duty chief. A dispatcher can handle up to 40 flights per shift. Computer software allows dispatchers to superimpose the weather information onto the path of an airplane. If a potential problem lies ahead, they can send a message directly to the pilot by data link.

The dispatcher may have the flight planning program armed and ready on the third terminal. Software called Lufthansa Integrated Dispatch Operation, or lido, is used to calculate the best route for each flight. Among the factors considered are the forecasted winds, available altitudes, weather conditions, ride reports from previous flights, and aircraft type. With flight plans containing so much information, a printout for an overseas flight plan can easily fill 30 pages. By optimizing flight plans, a dispatcher can also conserve a great deal of fuel. As mentioned, lido calculates fuel consumption to within kilograms lb.

This is an amazing feat, considering an Airbus A may carry more than 90, kilograms , lb. The fourth terminal will have a gamut of other programs running, providing information from curfew approvals, runway conditions, and phone numbers to the latest sports scores for pilots to pass along to their passengers. Surveying the room full of dispatchers at their terminals, Brian MacCourt says each of the 67 men and women on his team has been carefully trained to carry out the complex tasks of dispatching aircraft.

To obtain their certification, dispatchers study a wide range of subjects, including meteorology, air law, communications, and air traffic control. Over -the-Top Weather Until recently, the only regularly scheduled flights around the North Pole were handled by a roly-poly man with a white beard and red suit; even then there was only one flight a year. But the opening up of former-Soviet airspace at the turn of the 21st century created new opportunities, and today many airlines are launching flights over the top daily. But this newfound flight path comes with many restrictions and new meteorological considerations.

Why the sudden urge to take it over the top? Additionally, turbulence is less prevalent because jet streams are corkscrewing the globe further south and there are no weather fronts to contend with. And, obviously, crew-duty time is also lessened. It may not seem like a big issue, but it easily enters the equation if a less-productive routing is flown. Space weather, as used here, is defined as the conditions created on the Earth by activity on the surface of the sun. The potential impact of electromagnetic and solar radiation has been categorized by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or noaa see sidebar, page Cosmic radiation levels are an important space weather concern.

S1 and S2 allow for a safe journey, whereas an S5 is equal to about chest X-rays. Forecasts of levels of S4 and S5 prohibit polar flights, with S3 imposing lower altitudes or a more southerly polar route. Aircrew and passengers run a slightly higher risk of cosmic radiation at higher flight levels, and this risk increases toward the poles. Four factors affect the potential dose of cosmic radiation: The atmosphere offers less-inherent protection at higher altitudes, and protection also lessens toward the poles. Another element of flight impacted by space weather is radio reception.

Again, noaa broadcasts a five-level range of severity.

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An R5 rating means radio communication would not be possible for hours, and the aircraft would not be able to communicate with air traffic control. Luckily, Future Air Navigation Systems fans work through the use of satellites, lessening the reliance on hf; fans played a major role in making polar flights a reality. Warren Lampitt notes that, due to difficulties with satcom satellite communication data link and hf voice communications at high latitudes, Air Canada implemented hf data link, which bounces radio waves for hundreds to thousands of miles along the ionosphere, on the B fleet when it entered service this year.

It, too, is ranked one to five. During a G5, satellite navigation and communication unreliability coupled with possible ground power outages would cancel polarroute flights. High radiation hazard to commercial jets equal to chest X-rays , loss of some satellites, no HF communications in polar regions. Radiation hazard to commercial jets equal to 10 chest X-rays , satellite star tracker orientation problems, blackout of HF radio at polar cap for several days. Radiation hazard to jet passengers equal to 1 chest X-ray , temporary upset to exposed satellite components, degraded HF at polar cap.

Infrequent satellite event upsets, slight effect to polar cap HF. Small effect on HF radio in polar region. Radio Blackout Scale R5 Extreme: Complete HF radio blackout on the entire sunlit side of the Earth for a number of hours, navigational outages on sunlit side for many hours. One- to two-hour HF blackout on sunlit side of Earth, minor satellite navigation disruptions. Wide area of HF blackout, loss of radio contact for mariners and en-route aviators for about an hour, low-frequency navigation LORAN degraded. Limited loss of HF radio, some low frequency navigation signals degraded.

Minor degradation of HF, minor low-frequency navigation signal degrade. Geomagnetic Storm Scale G5 Extreme: Power grids can collapse, transformers are damaged, powerful electric charge can threaten satellites and spacecraft operations, HF radio blackout in many areas for one to two days, low-frequency radio out for many hours, aurora seen as low as the equator. Voltage stability problems in power systems, satellite orientation problems, induced pipeline currents, HF radio propagation sporadic, low-frequency radio disrupted, aurora seen as low as the tropics. Voltage corrections required on power systems, false alarms triggered on protection devices, increased drag on satellites, low-frequency radio navigation problems, aurora seen as low as mid-latitudes.

High-latitude power systems affected, drag on satellites affect orbit, HF radio propagation fades at higher altitudes, aurora seen at latitudes of 50 degrees.

Slight power grid fluctuations, minor impact to satellites, aurora seen at high latitudes 60 degrees. Adapting to Space Weather What can be done about space weather? Airlines using polar routes have adopted the policy that flights will not be conducted if solar radiation, radio blackout, or geomagnetic storm activity is at level four or five. Solar radiation at level three requires polar flights to be conducted at fl or below. As well, there are four polar routes to choose from, with Polar Route 2 being the closest to the pole, about 60 miles 97 km away.

No route travels directly over the pole. Hours before each polar flight, flight dispatch determines whether space weather is deemed safe. Sometimes a safe flight can only be assured by varying the route or changing the flight level. Frigid Factors Another weather contender during our flight to Hong Kong is the extreme cold found in northern Canada and Siberia, which could potentially freeze the fuel. Depending on the aircraft, engine type, and jet fuel type, the fuel boarded may be analyzed and the actual fuel-freeze point determined.

Flight dispatch may data link this actual fuel-freeze temperature to the flight after it is airborne. Descending burns more fuel, as does increasing speed, but it is less effective. Luckily temperatures were forecasted to warm up and they did. Yet another consideration is the availability of suitable airports in case of a serious medical situation or other emergency, particularly in Arctic winters. Two Arctic survival suits, along with other environmentally appropriate clothing, are on board in case we have to exit the airplane to coordinate services after landing.

Rest assured the junior pilot will be delegated this task.

From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science by Doug Morris

One airport in close proximity of the transpolar route is Tiksi, in Russia. A recent Air Canada memo suggested only landing at such airports in perilous situations. When you join two dots on a sphere, or two airports on Earth, the shortest distance is called a great circle.

If you take an atlas and join Toronto to Hong Kong with a string, the route direction is southwesterly over California. Now connect Toronto to Hong Kong with the same string using a globe. Plotting a Path Aviation maps in many in-flight magazines depict airline routes as clean, curved lines that gracefully arch from one point to another.

They provide a clear connect-the-dots picture of which cities the airlines serve, but the true picture is very different. Many variables come into play when plotting out routes, which at first glance often appear indirect and puzzling. If only the airplanes could travel in the smooth lines on the maps — it would all be so much simpler.

A favorable wind, or one working against the airplane, can make a big difference to the ground speed the speed at which the aircraft travels over the ground , so dispatchers must carefully consider the direction of the winds when selecting a route. As a result, the routing over the North Atlantic, for example, changes daily. The routes handling the daytime westbound traffic from Europe tend to be more to the north, to avoid the headwinds, while the eastbound night traffic tends more to the south.

Weather also dictates the direction of airways. For example, a Vancouver-bound flight from Toronto may head into American airspace to avoid thunderstorms over the Prairies. The capabilities of the airplane itself also dictate what routes it is permitted to travel. At one time, a two-engine jet had to remain within an hour from a suitable airport while traveling over the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.

For the Atlantic route this meant hugging close to Greenland and Iceland. This posed major restrictions on ocean crossings. Some restrictions to international airways are political. Many countries — such as Iraq, the Russian Federation, and China — strictly limit or forbid airliners to fly in their airspace. It was not too long ago that talks between nav canada and the Federal Aviation Authority of Russia led to relaxed airspace restrictions, allowing Air Canada to route flights over the North Pole and other parts of the Russian Federation. Some routes handle air traffic for specific directions, whereas most routes handle traffic both ways.

Unlike having two separate lanes, aircraft keep a safe distance by varying altitudes according to direction. Many of these route intersections are named after local places; others have more random or peculiar names. My favorite is the waypoint called Crazy Woman in Wyoming.

From the Flight Deck: Plane Talk and Sky Science

Because of sophisticated navigation systems, many waypoints are now just that, points in space with specific latitudes and longitudes. These markers allow air traffic controllers to provide better traffic flow, and many waypoints near airports have assigned altitude restrictions. The majority of the names are now computer generated. These peculiar words would come in handy for a game of Scrabble. For example, one approach into Toronto Pearson has the pilot navigating to the following points: With sophisticated inertial navigation systems and the onset of satellites, routes are becoming more direct.

Frequently pilots will request a more direct routing from air traffic control to save time. So, with once-forbidden airspace opening up, engine technology advancing, and the highly accurate navigation systems in use, restrictions on where an airplane can fly are becoming less stringent. Maybe one day flying in straight lines from one city to the next will be the best way to go. Why the confusing city code? Why not, say, chi? Be the first to review this item Amazon Bestsellers Rank: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.

The text is good, more facts and stats would help.


  1. ;
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  4. Finanzas para Emprendedores (Spanish Edition).
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  6. The pictures no good, considering the vast quantity of excellent aviation pictures available. No maps to see text references to locations. No explanatory drawings of meteorological and other features. The most interesting parts are those explaining common sights and sounds, and those of personal experiences. Considering that the author still works, the book resembles a bit his company brochure.

    This is understandable, although a bit more frankness about the world around us would be more interesting. I'll wait for his next book when he retires.


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