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Interesting Facts About Airplanes and Airplane Maintenance

No matter how long you’ve been a pilot, there are still things that you don’t know about airplanes and airplane maintenance. Take a look at some of these interesting facts that you may have never heard before:

Airplanes Are Lightning-Proof

It can be nerve-wracking to fly through a storm with lightning flashing, but there’s no need to worry about the plane being hit by lightning. An aircraft must go through lightning certification tests before it is allowed in the sky so engineers can verify that the aircraft will hold up when struck by lightning. Commercial planes are far more likely to be struck by lightning than smaller planes due to their size. In fact, it’s estimated that every plane in the U.S. that is flown commercially is struck by lightning at least once per year. 

Number of Fliers

Over two million people board flights originating in the U.S. everyday. At any moment throughout the day or night, there are over 60,000 people in flight above the United States. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the U.S. in terms of the number of passengers. However, the Chicago O’Hare International Airport has more takeoffs and landings per day than any other airport in the U.S.

Fear of Flying

Even though so many people get on flights everyday in the U.S., many of them may have a fear of flying. It’s estimated that one in every three adults in the U.S. is either anxious about flying or afraid to fly at all. Women are more likely than men to be afraid of flying. Adults who have this fear are primarily concerned about flying through bad weather, flying over bodies of water, and mechanical problems during their flight.

Flying Affects Your Body

Dehydration may become an issue when you choose to travel by airplane. In fact, it’s estimated that your body can lose around 8 cups of water during a 10-hour flight. To prevent dehydration, be sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the flight.
Another part of your body that will be affected by the flight is your taste buds. About one-third of the taste buds in your mouth will be numbed while you are in flight, so there’s no point in sneaking a snack into the cockpit with you since you won’t be able to enjoy it until you’re on the ground.

Mercury Should Not Be Brought on Planes

No one should ever carry mercury on board an airplane. Why? Most of the aircraft is made out of aluminum, and if mercury comes into contact with aluminum, it can do a great deal of damage. If mercury is discovered on an airplane, officials must thoroughly inspect the airplane for structural damage before it is allowed to take flight.

Deicing Planes

For safety reasons, ice must be carefully removed from a plane before it can take off. Although it used to be acceptable to remove frost by polishing the plane, this is no longer allowed. Instead, a chemical known as glycol is used to remove frost and ice from the plane. Unfortunately, glycol can freeze when exposed to extremely cold temperatures. If it freezes, it won’t be effective in removing ice from a plane. In this situation, the only other option pilots have would be to place the plane inside a heated hanger and allow the ice to thaw.

Flights Are Becoming More Turbulent

Studies have suggested that pilots will run into more turbulence in the skies because of climate change. Experts predict that turbulence may become up to three times more common due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If you’ve encountered more turbulence than usual when flying a plane lately, this isn’t bad luck, it’s just science!

Smallest Aircraft

Currently, the smallest aircraft in the world is the BD-5 Micro. This compact aircraft has a maximum wingspan of 21 feet and weighs only 368 pounds. To put this in perspective, commercial planes have a wingspan of around 200 feet and can weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Plane’s Contrails

The white trails of an airplane consist of crystallized water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfate particles, and soot. Looking at these white trails in the sky can help you predict the weather. If the tail is thin and short, this indicates low humidity and fair skies. However, if the tail is thick, this indicates that a storm could be right around the corner.

An Engine’s Life

The life of an aircraft’s engine is not measured in years, but in the number of flight hours and flight cycle. One flight cycle consists of one takeoff and one landing. Aircraft owners must perform routine maintenance on their engines after a certain number of flight cycles.

Future Aircraft

Engineers have big plans for the future of the aviation industry. A number of engineers have discussed a desire to build an aircraft with walls that are completely see-through. If this vision comes to life, passengers would have almost a 360 degree view of the world around them while in flight. Of course, this type of aircraft may not be appealing to those who are afraid of flying or heights.

5% of the Population

Traveling by plane is fairly common in the U.S., but it’s not in other parts of the world. In fact, only 5% of the world’s population has ever been on an airplane. Even though people in the U.S. fly on a regular basis, many people in underdeveloped countries don’t ever get the opportunity to fly by plane.
Learning about the aviation industry can help you become a better pilot. By reading this list, hopefully you learned a thing or two that you never knew about aircrafts, maintenance and the aviation industry!

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