It may take investigators years to fully understand the tragic fate that befell Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, wreckage of which is believed to have been found in the Southern Indian Ocean. Locating the aircraft’s flight recorder, or black box, will be crucial in this regard, but to date there is no indication as to its whereabouts.
It’s tempting, in the age of streaming data, to call this an archaic, obsolete system – after all, there are better ways of recording and accessing flight data – but they face staggering problems in practice. After an Air France crash in 2009, for example, it took investigators two years to recover the black box. French safety officials drew up recommendations afterward to improve the flight recorders, and the FAA followed suit. Those recommendations included features such as adding a mechanism to catapult a black box into the air when it hit water, and tripling the battery life of the underwater locator beacons to 90 days. Air France incorporated such technologies into its airplanes, but U.S. airlines are lagging behind on the new regulations. Financial hurdles are the most notorious reason for an increasingly parsimonious airline industry. “As with everything, you know the money is always going to be an issue,” Brickhouse says.
Some pilots will tell you the hardest part of flying an aircraft is landing it. Clearly though that doesn’t bother this flyer, who has no qualms landing his craft on… the ridge of a mountain, in this instance Bunker Hill, part of Toiyabe Range, situated in the US state of Nevada.
Note how he lands the aeroplane into an uphill slope on the mountain, and then takes off by taxiing on a downward slope. One of the better ways to get on, and off, a mountain though, if you ask me.
It’s a comfort to know an aircraft the size of an Airbus A380, that potentially seats 850 people, in an all-economy class configuration, across two decks spanning the entire length of its fuselage, can be completely deplaned in less than ninety seconds, in the event of an emergency.
Here’s hoping the only time you witness such an exercise is while watching this demonstration.
November 435 Sierra Romeo is cleared to Bravo Tango Victor airport, via: On entering controlled airspace, expect radar vectors to Westminster VOR. Then Victor 457 to Lancaster VOR, Victor 39 to East Texas VOR Echo-Tango-Xray, Victor 162 to Huguenot VOR Hotel-Uniform-Oscar, then as filed. Climb and maintain three thousand feet, expect five thousand feet ten minutes after departure. Departure frequency 128.7, squawk four-six-three-five.
Yep, that sounds a lot like the way I used to speak during my academy, or buzzing over the country side in a Cessna, days.
Airports are not enjoyable places to be. Long distance travel is not a tonne of fun. Badly designed boarding passes are annoying. Seriously annoying. The boarding pass is essential for air travel but when badly designed, must be one of the most counter-productive items an airline could issue. I think they cause headaches for airline and airport staff and travellers alike. Travellers are often stressed, emotional, groggy, jet lagged or a toxic mix of all four. The thought of having to decode a rubix-cube-puzzle of crucial information in that state makes me want to just give up.
Tips from aircraft manufacturer Boeing on starting an airline, and if they don’t know about this sort of thing, who does? Even if you’re the entrepreneurial type though, setting up an airline, even a relatively small operation, could well be biting off more than you can chew.
Economy class on a Boeing 747 aircraft, sometime in the late 1960s. I almost regret coming along a little too late and missing what looks to be the golden age of air travel… don’t you just want to be on that flight? The experience actually looks enjoyable.
Some FAA rules don’t make sense to us either. Like the fact that when we’re at 39,000 feet going 400 miles an hour, in a plane that could hit turbulence at any minute, [flight attendants] can walk around and serve hot coffee and Chateaubriand. But when we’re on the ground on a flat piece of asphalt going five to ten miles an hour, they’ve got to be buckled in like they’re at NASCAR.
The chances of surviving being ejected, or flung out, from a crashing aircraft are pretty remote, though thankfully the chances of being in such a position in the first place are likewise remote, but those few who make it through such a catastrophe alive, often struggle to understand how they withstood the ordeal.
Modern commercial jets can carry hundreds of people 10 times faster than you can safely drive on a city street, which is 10 times faster than you can probably walk. Though millions of people witness it everyday, the transaction of physics between an airplane and gravity is unimaginably violent. If your puny body ever actually came face to face with what lies beyond your window seat, you’d die almost instantly, via several horrible mechanisms – hyperbaric trauma, friction, blunt force, hypoxia – competing to be the thing that actually killed you.