Why are aircraft flight recorders called black boxes? Good question

Thursday, 23 June, 2016

An introduction to aircraft flight recorders, often known as black boxes. That’s a misnomer, if ever there were one, as they are usually orange in colour.

What’s also interesting is that no one in the aviation industry exactly knows how fight recorders became known as black boxes in the first place. Perhaps the term was made popular by the media? Black box certainly has more presence than orange box, so possibly that explains it?

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Well, this makes landing a commercial jet airliner look easy…

Tuesday, 16 February, 2016

I’ve heard that landing a commercial jet airliner is no small ask, should a complete novice, such as a passenger, need to take control in the event that the flight crew becomes incapacitated.

This walk-through of the process, for a Boeing 737, however, makes it seem quite easy, if you could keep your nerves steady that is. Here, the weather conditions are favourable, anything else might present a real challenge though.

Hopefully, you’ll never be in such a situation.

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Hoverboards placed on the no fly list, is that a contradiction or what?

Thursday, 17 December, 2015

Hoverboard, photo by Josh Valcarcel

The hoverboards in question are not the least bit like the devices from the Back to the Future films, but maybe they’re close enough for some people. I’ve seen a few of these around now, and while they look fun, it appears some models have an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames. That’s not much use if Biff Tannen happens to be in hot pursuit.

The problem can apparently be traced to their lithium-ion batteries, and is something that has resulted in a number of US airlines banning passengers from taking them onto flights.

An exploding two-wheeler burned down a house in Louisiana a few weeks ago; another scooter combusted in the same state in the past week. A gyroboard caused significant damage to a home in New York a few days ago. At a mall in Washington this week, a scooterboard caught fire and shoppers were forced to evacuate. The perceived danger is significant enough that major airlines have banned the little vehicles altogether.

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The question again, will travel by airship ever make a return?

Friday, 4 September, 2015

Might airships ever return to the skies, and convey us from one place to another, as an alternative to flying in an aircraft?

In 2013, the Aeros Corporation, based near San Diego, demonstrated a tethered flight of Dragon Dream – an airship measuring 90m (295ft) long and 27m wide. As big as this airship is, it is still only small sized prototype – the final design could be more than 169m long and be able to carry a cargo of 66 tonnes.

It’s something that’s been talked about for a long time though, so I don’t know if anything will actually come of it. That said, airship travel didn’t too bad at all. Take a look at these photos of the passenger decks of the Hindenburg, the dining rooms, lounge areas, and small bedrooms. If that’s not a comfortable way to fly, what is?

Unfortunately though, it was the tragic destruction of the Hindenburg in 1937, that brought the era of airship travel to an end.

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A colourful visualisation of flights in and out of London in a day

Friday, 24 July, 2015

A colourful visualisation of aircraft traffic arriving and departing from the five major airports surrounding London. Apparently just about all of these flights, 99.8% of them, experience no ATC related delays. Not bad for what must be some of the busiest airspace in the world.

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Aircraft cabin air, definitely the sum of its many parts

Monday, 6 July, 2015

Frequent flyers especially may be interested in the air they breathe while cruising at thirty-thousand feet… put it this way, there are all sorts of surprising ingredients, as it were, in the mix. And then this, an explanation of the low humidity environment of many aircraft cabins:

Most airplanes use about 50% recirculated air and about 50% bleed air that comes from the engines. Bleed air isn’t supposed to be dangerous. Outside air is first pulled into the first compartment of the engine, where it’s compressed and then pumped into the aircraft, sometimes through a filter. Then, it’s decompressed and mixed with the recirculated air before being blown out those little eyeball vents above your seat. The air is stagnant, and at about 12-percent humidity, it’s also drier than a desert. However, the air mixture is supposed to be safe.

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A flight from London to Tokyo, as described by a pilot

Wednesday, 10 June, 2015

An in-depth description of a flight from London to Tokyo, aboard a Boeing 747, written by British Airways pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker… that is quite possibly a more enjoyable experience than flying is, or has become.

It’s been dark for hours now. There are three pilots on a flight this long and now it’s time for my break. A colleague takes my place in the right-hand seat of the cockpit. Before I go to the bunk, located at the rear of the cockpit, I stay for a moment by one of the side windows, to gaze out and up. If you look into the night sky from an airplane for more than a few minutes you may well see a shooting star. My eye catches something. I look, smile and say to myself, There’s another one. I don’t even mention them to a colleague; another will be along soon enough.

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The Cozy Suite, a more comfortable way to fly for middle seat flyers?

Tuesday, 19 May, 2015

Thomson Aero Seating Cozy Suite

Now here’s an airline seating format that could make air travel a lot more comfortable.

The Cozy Suite, developed by Thomson Aero Seating, not only makes sitting in a middle seat less bothersome, it also allows passengers to recline their seat, by way of a forward-sliding pan system, one that doesn’t intrude on the space of the person in the seat behind.

The seat also features a fixed-back shell with a pan seat recline. This means you won’t feel the passenger behind you bumping or kicking your seat and, if you recline, the forward-sliding pan means you won’t be invading that person’s space.

As a bonus, the format also allows more seats to be fitted in an aircraft, surely making them a win for everyone. So, what are the chances of seeing these seats on flights any time soon?

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52 places to travel to in 52 weeks

Monday, 19 January, 2015

Might this be a bucket list item? Visit fifty-two places across the globe, over the course of a year, while spending as close to week as is possible in each? Here are the fifty-two places. Now to find a round-the-world air ticket that makes it possible to visit all these places on the one trip…

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This is the captain speaking, is an Instagram photographer aboard?

Friday, 19 December, 2014

In NSW, and I dare say in many other places, motorists are not permitted to handle their mobile phones whatsoever while they are driving. They are however able to pass their device to a passenger, but that’s about all. Needless to say taking Instagram photos is clearly out of the question.

Airline pilots appear to be bound by similar regulations, though as this collection of images goes to show, they don’t always seem to adhere to them, unless of course another crew member, someone who is non flight deck personnel, is actually taking the photos.

Perhaps airlines could consider assigning someone the role of flight photographer… many of these pictures, by sheer virtue of the circumstances in which they are taken, are stunning.

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