Interesting aviation facts

February 26, 2011

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• Most planes flying internationally have their home country’s flag painted on or around their tails. Generally, the flag is facing the proper way round on the left (port) side of the aircraft and backward on the starboard side. Why? Because that’s how it would look if a real flag were hoisted on a pole above the airplane during the flight.

• Airline doors and windows are often inset a few millimetres from the fuselage so that they’ll expand to be flush with the fuselage during flight.

• If you look closely at the top of jet airliners wings, you’ll probably find a row of small metal tabs standing about one inch (2.5cm) tall, especially in front of the ailerons. These are vortex generators, which actually help the air follow the shape of the wing during flight by creating tiny whirlwinds over the wing. You can sometimes find vortex generators on the tail and in front of the rudder, too.

• Each engine on a Boeing 747 weighs almost 9,500 pounds (4,300 kg), costs about $8 million, and burns about 12 gallons of fuel per minute when cruising. Altogether the four engines account for about five per cent of the total weight of a full 747 upon takeoff.

• Even if you strapped on giant wings, you could never fly because the human heart can’t pump blood quick enough to satisfy the enormous strain of flapping. When flying, a sparrow’s heart pumps more than 450 times each minute!

• The windows in an airport control tower must be tilted out at exactly 15 degrees from the vertical to minimise reflections from both inside and outside the control tower.

• Cathay Pacific aircraft are equipped with toasters, cappuccino makers, rice cookers and skillets.

• A KLM 747-400 flight from Amsterdam to Australia carries an average of just over 1,000 kilogrammes of food, and some 1,324 litres of beverages.

• American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by removing one olive from each salad served in first class.

• Virgin Atlantic says catering is its third biggest cost after fuel and engineering-maintenance.

• KLM is the world’s oldest airline established in 1919.

— Compiled by The Surfer