49 Amusing Aviation Industry Facts

The aviation industry is on boom ever since the Wright brothers invented the first controlled, heavier-than- air manned flight. Today, the aircraft industry is amongst the major industries affecting billions of people all over the globe by giving jobs and providing better opportunities. For Rankred fans and aircraft enthusiasts, we present less known facts about the aviation industry. We are sure that you will find them intriguing. Enjoy.

1.

The Boeing 747 (747-8I), wide-body jet airliner can carry about 64,225 gallons of jet fuel, which weighs about 536,633 pounds, and can fill fuel tanks of 1300 ford expedition SUV.

Boeing 747B747LCF Dreamlifter

2.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could increase the frequency of turbulence. This can also raise the number of aircraft incident. Moreover, many experts believe that dramatic global climate changes will produce severe incidents of turbulence in the near future.

3.

The Wright brothers invented and flew the first ever airplane in 1903, recognized as “the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight”. The first jet aircraft was the German Heinkel He 178 powered by turbojet engine, built in 1939. While the first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, was introduced in 1952.

Read: 10 Most Powerful Aircraft Engines in the World

4.

Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) was first developed during the Second World War. It is an identification system designed for military and the civilian interrogation system to identify aircraft and vehicles. IFF can only identify friendly aircraft, not the hostile ones, if it did not receive any reply or getting an invalid reply the target is automatically perceived as foe.

5.

For a short haul distance of 1000 nautical miles, the Bombardier CS300, Airbus A319Neo and Boeing 737 MAX-7, use less than 2 liters jet fuel per 100 km in 135+ seats capacity range. While for longer hauls, Boeing 787-9, Airbus A350 900 consume less than 3 liters per 100 km in 300+ seats range.

6.

Contrails are basically clouds formed when water vapor condenses and freezes around aerosols that exist in aircraft exhaust. A thin, shorter-lasting tail indicates low-humidity in the air and fair weather. A rather thick and long-lasting tail could signify the early indicators of a storm.

Contrails

7.

If a plane needs to make an emergency landing, the plane must first achieve the maximum structural landing weight (MLW) and to do this the pilot may decide to dump fuel from its fuselages. An MLW is the maximum load a flight is allowed to take while landing, excess weight can cause major structural damage to the plane. Most of the fuel usually evaporates before even it reaches the ground.

8.

There are plenty of websites like FlightAware, Flightradar24 and OpenSky Network, that track commercial aviation flights.

9.

Apart from takeoff and landing the autopilot systems are usually turned on during the majority portion of a flight. The first ever autopilot enabled aircraft was developed by Sperry Corporation in 1912.

Read: 14 Unique Early Experimental Flying Planes

10.

A stall is most likely to happen because of low air speed. Generally, to compensate a decrease in aircraft speed, a pilot may raise the nose of the aircraft subsequently to increase the angle of attack (relative motion between the body and the fluid through which it is moving). However, after a critical angle of attack is passed, the lift stops increasing and the plan actually collapses, causing a stall.

stallImage Source: ControlChat

11.

Aircraft radar cannot detect turbulence directly. It can only detect solid and liquid objects. Clear air turbulence does not include condense water and is therefore undetectable by conventional radar. There are systems such as LIDAR that can detect clear air turbulence, but generally they are not installed on most of the aircraft.

12.

On January 15, 2009, an Airbus A320 under the banner of US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canadian Geese during the initial climb causing both the engines to fail. As a result the pilots were forced to make a gliding effort to land in the Hudson River.

13.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it is mandatory for all the airplanes that they should be capable to completely evacuate in ninety seconds. As airplanes are mostly made of aluminum, it just takes only a minute and a half for a fire to spread and smoke a whole plane.

14.

OAG is an air travel intelligence company based in the United Kingdom. It provides digital information on the world’s airlines, airports, agencies and travel-related service companies. It provides all the information on the airlines that exists.

15.

If an airplane door opens in midflight at a high altitude, the sudden opening can cause items and people to get sucked out. However, a plug-type door (a door that is bigger than the opening) makes it nearly impossible even for multiple people to open a door during a flight.

airplane door

16.

Pilots are paid only for their time “in flight”, which usually means that they are paid from the release parking brake at the departure point until the brake is set upon arrival at the destination. Although, this industry provides one of the highest salaried jobs, it is important to notice that only senior and most experienced pilots get the six figure range annually.

17.

Mercury is considered the greatest threat for every airplane. It readily combines with aluminium to form a mercury-aluminium amalgam. Since the amalgam destroys the oxide layer which protects metallic aluminium from oxidizing in-depth, even small amounts of mercury corrode aluminium. That’s the reason why it is not allowed on board.

18.

The IATA (International Air Transport Association) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing roughly over 260 major and minor airlines which constitute over 83% of total air traffic.  It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada with Executive Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

19.

The earliest flight simulation device was the Link Trainer produced by Edwin Link in 1927 in New York, USA. During the World War II the Celestial Navigation Trainer was launched.

20.

The Antonov AN-225 Mriya is the largest plane in the world, with six turbofan engines and the maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes. It is nearly as big as a football field from nose to tail and from wing tip to wing tip. Antonov initially developed the AN-225 to transport a space shuttle.

Antonov AN-225 MriyaAntonov AN-225 Mriya

21.

The world’s largest passenger plane is the Airbus A380. It is a double-decker, wide body four-engine jetliner manufactured by Airbus. The company launched the gigantic passenger airliner to challenge Boeing’s monopoly over aircraft industry. Not all the airports can operate the gigantic plane and it requires upgraded facilities to accommodate it.

Airbus A380Airbus A380

22.

Black-box is a device known as the flight recorder, which is placed in an aircraft for the purpose of recording flight details and facilitating the investigation of aviation accidents. A black-box may be of any color (mostly orange).

23.

A conventional aircraft’s flight control systemconsists of flight control surfaces, respective cockpit controls, linkages, and the operating mechanisms to control an aircraft’s direction in flight. The earliest basic flight control system used on aircraft was first appeared on April 1908, in Louis Blériot’s Blériot VIII pioneer-era monoplane design.

ControlSurfacesImage source: wikimedia

24.

Oxygen production from the emergency oxygen system typically lasts at least 15 minutes. During the process the generator becomes extremely hot and in result, a burning smell may be noted which can cause alarm among the passengers.

25.

A Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is constructed with almost 500,000 rivets. It has braking system that ( under normal conditions) is capable of simultaneously stopping 432 automobiles traveling at the speed of 50 MPH. The cargo area could easily hold a bowling alley; the area is almost 11 feet wide, 86 feet long and 7 feet high.

Boeing KC-135Image source: wikimedia

26.

The US makes up 49.7% of the world market for private jets; Europe 20.8%; Asia Pacific 11.8%; Latin and South America 11.6%; Africa and the Middle East: 6.1%.

27.

In 2015, the combined revenue of commercial airlines worldwide stands at whopping 700 billion U.S dollars. Meanwhile, the total profit of airline companies in 2015 stands at 10 billion US dollars.

28.

According to studies conducted by Boeing, airlines are stuck by lightning twice per year on an average. However, an airliner survives typical lightning without any damage. Before 1999, the aircrafts were not designed to withstand lightning strikes because of unknown impact of them on flights.

29.

The world’s smallest jet is the Bede BD-5 Micro, first built in 1971. It has a maximum speed of 232 mph with empty weight of just 355 pounds.

Bede BD-5 MicroImage source: wikimedia

30.

The Airbus manufactured aircraft A380 is the most expensive passenger jet in the world with a unit cost of US$ 432.6 million (2016). In 2013, Al-Waleed bin Talal a member of the Saudi royal family became the first individual to purchase an A380. But it was sold even before delivery.

31.

The Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on Dutch Caribbean island of Saba currently holds the world’s smallest runway. It measures just 400m (1,312 ft.) in length. The Qamdo Banda Airport situated in China, in contrary measures about 5,500 m and it is the longest paved runway in the world.

32.

A single plane is a conglomeration of millions of different parts, out of those a windshield or window frame of a heavy airliner like Boeing 747-400’s cockpit costs much more than several luxury cars.

33.

The world’s fastest airplane is the North American X-15, flying at a speed of 4,520 miles per hour. It was a hypersonic rocket- powered aircraft. There were only 3 X-15 built during the period of 1959-1968.

X-15

Read: Top 15 Fastest Aircraft in the World

34.

Airport control tower windows must be angled at precisely fifteen degrees from the top to decrease reflections from both inside and outside the tower.

35.

English is used as the official language of ATC operations around the globe. Although flight controllers are free to use native languages to communicate with the pilots, it is mandatory to use English upon request.

36.

Perhaps the biggest disappearance of flights near the Bermuda Triangle was a group of 5 Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers popularly known as the Flight 19. It was December 5, 1945, during overwater navigation training.

37.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers and flight attendants in nonfatal accidents. Every year, on an average fifty-eight people in the United States are injured when not wearing their seat belt on a plane.

38.

The 1919 incident of Verona Caproni Ca.48 was the Italy’s first commercial aviation disaster and one of the earliest airliner disasters in the world. The Ca.48 is a large triplane, and was converted from a heavy bomber to a passenger airline with the capacity of 23 persons.

Read: 25+ Worst and Deadliest Airline Disasters in History

39.

Research shows that the first three minutes after takeoff and the final eight minutes before landing are when eighty percent of plane crashes happen.

40.

There is generally more chance of an airplane to witness turbulence while crossing the ITCZ (Inter-tropical Convergence Zone). There is a widespread conspiracy theory that the ITCZ might have played an important role in the disappearance of AirAsia Flight 8501 commuting from Surabaya Indonesia to Singapore.

turbulenceImage Source: askthepilot.com, flyingwithconfidence.com 

41.

The Tenerife airport disaster was the worst airline disaster in the history of aviation. On March 27 1977, the two Boeing 747 passenger aircraft collided with each other on a small airport in Tenerife Island. The accident killed 583 people.

42.

Aviphobia or aerophobia (fear of flying) is considered by many as the distinct phobia which is a result of an indirect combination of one or more other disorders. It receives more attention than other phobias. On an average about 1 in 5 people have aviphobia. Ronald Reagan (40th President of the United States) and Dennis Bergkamp (Dutch footballer) are amongst the well-known personalities having some extent of fear of flying.

43.

On the basis of NTSB reports on the major crash in the United States, it can be concluded that passengers who are sitting near the tail of the plane are fifty percent more likely to survive in a crash than those sitting near the cockpit in the first few rows.

44.

According to NASA, there are actually four forces of flight that push the plane up, down, forward, or slow it down. These four forces are lift, thrust, drag, and weight.

 

45.

Harriet Quimby became the first American women to gain a pilot’s license in 1911. She was awarded by a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America. Quimby also became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

Harriet QuimbyHarriet Quimby

46.

“The Ninety-Nines” or 99s is an international organization of Women Pilots. Amelia Earhart was a prominent member of this organization. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland (U.S) to Paris.

47.

The LockheedF-104 Starfighter currently holds the record of highest altitude obtained for a fixed-wing aircraft. It reached 31,513m altitude during a military operation in 1959.

48.

The first ATC (Air traffic control) was introduced in 1921 at the Croydon Airport, London. The airport served as the main terminal for London before it was replaced by the London Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport.

49.

The Dutch KLM based in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, established in 1919 is the oldest and longest serving airline in the world. Alongside KLM, QANTAS established in 1920 and Aeroflot started in 1923 are amongst the biggest airliners which are still in operation.

Read: 15 Most Secret and Experimental Military Aircraft

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received M.tech degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at varunkmr09@gmail.com. 

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