Airplanes have changed a lot since the days of the Wright Brothers. Those first wood-and-cloth contraptions are an entirely different species than the sleek Boeing Dream liners of today. With the continual advancements in aerospace technology, it’s hard to keep up with all the amazing things planes today are capable of doing (and withstanding).
Here are some amazing facts about Airplanes— the safest mode of travel.
AIRPLANES ARE DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND LIGHTNING STRIKES
Although passengers and crew may see a flash and hear a loud noise if lightning strikes their plane, nothing serious should happen because of the careful lightning protection engineered into the aircraft and its sensitive components. Initially, the lightning will attach to an extremity such as the nose or wing tip. The airplane then flies through the lightning flash, which re-attaches itself to the fuselage at other locations while the airplane is in the electric “circuit” between the cloud regions of opposite polarity. The current will travel through the conductive exterior skin and structures of the aircraft and exit off some other extremity, such as the tail. Pilots occasionally report temporary flickering of lights or short-lived interference with instruments.
BACK SEATS ARE SLIGHTLY Safer THAN MID AND FRONT SEATS
A TIME study of plane accidents found that the middle seats in the back of the plane had the lowest fatality rate in a crash. Their research revealed that, during plane crashes, “the seats in the back third of the aircraft had a 32 percent fatality rate, compared with 39 percent in the middle third and 38 percent in the front third.”
However, there are so many variables at play that it’s impossible to know where to sit to survive a crash. Oh, and plane crashes are incredibly rare.
THE TIRES ARE DESIGNED NOT TO EXPLODE ON LANDING
Aircraft tires are amazing when you think about it.The typical airliner tire can handle a 38-ton load. It can meet the ground 500 times before needing a re-tread, a refresh it can take on seven times in its life.
The key to their remarkable durability is maximizing the air pressure, the high-flying rubber is typically inflated to 200 psi, roughly six times what you put in an automobile tire, and the tires on an F-16 fighter are pumped to 320 psi. In the first moments after a plane touches down, the tires are skidding, not rolling. The airplane essentially drags them down the runway until their rotational velocity matches the velocity of the plane. That’s why they smoke upon landing, and why Michelin uses grooves instead of the block patterns seen on your car’s rubber—blocks would simply break off.
AIRPLANE OXYGEN MASKS MAKE THEIR OWN OXYGEN!!!
Have you ever wondered where they store oxygen for the emergency masks aboard planes? With airlines finding more ways to save costs and fill the plane to capacity, it would be impractical to use heavy, bulky oxygen tanks. Especially when there’s another way: create your own oxygen!!!
All it needs is a little bit of heat, and sodium chlorate( or barium peroxide, or potassium perchlorate) quickly gives off its oxygen atoms so that you have air to breathe. That’s why flight attendants instruct you to tug on the mask. That tug creates a small explosion that will generate heat it takes to make and release its oxygen. The chemical reaction will only last for 20 min, but that’s usually enough time for the plane to descend to a safe breathing altitude.
WHAT THE TINY HOLE IN THE AIRPLANE WINDOW DOES??
It’s to regulate cabin pressure. Most airplane windows are made up of three panels of acrylic. The exterior window works as you would expect—keeping the elements out and maintaining cabin pressure. In the unlikely event that something happens to the exterior pane, the second pane acts as a fail-safe option. The tiny hole in the interior window is there to regulate air pressure so the middle pane remains intact and uncompromised until it is called into duty.
WHY PLANES LEAVE TRAILS IN THE SKY??
Those white lines that planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation, hence their technical name of “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water vapor is pumped out of the exhaust and hits the cooler air of the upper atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky. It’s basically the same reaction as when you see your breath when it’s cold outside.
WHY DOES THE FOOD TASTE SO BAD??
Airplane food has a bad reputation, but the food itself isn’t entirely to blame—the real fault lies with the plane. A 2015 Cornell University study, reported by TIME, found that the environment inside an airplane actually alters the way food and drink tastes—sweet items tasted less sweet, while salty flavors were heightened. The dry recycled air inside the plane cabin doesn’t help either as low humidity can further dull taste and smell making everything in a plane seem bland. According to a 2010 study from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Germany, it’s about 30 percent more difficult to detect sweet and salty tastes when you’re up in the air.
AN INSIGHT INTO FUTURE!!!
Hope you’re not too attached to looking out the windows when you fly—the designers of tomorrow’s airplanes seem intent on getting rid of them. A Paris design firm recently made waves when it released its concept for a sleek, solar paneled, windowless passenger jet. Before that, Airbus proposed eschewing windows and building its cabins out of transparent polymers. Now, the Center for Process Innovation has floated its own windowless plane concept, and it’s attracting plenty of attention, too.