Five fascinating facts about... aeroplanes
The average Brit spends 306 hours in the air in their lifetime. That's about 12 full days non-stop, but we reckon travel fiends like ourselves probably spend considerably more. So given we have a close acquaintance with this transport mode, we might not know as much as we could about them - more the shame as they're incredible feats of engineering.
If you’ve a curious nature, read on to discover the Flexicover team top five factoids about aeroplanes you'll be sure to remember on your next flight. Who needs an entertainment system when you have one of man’s greatest inventions all around you?
The tyres can handle a 38-ton load
Given the plane's tyres are an integral piece of landing equipment, be well assured that they're made to exacting standards. Most are made to handle a 38-ton load and most commercial planes use 14 to 32 tyres to share the load. While similar to car tyres, they're filled with nitrogen instead of oxygen for extra safety and durability and pumped to a higher pressure - about six times the psi of ordinary tyres. Their rigorous manufacture means that they can land a plane 500 times before needing a re-tread, justifying the £4,000 price tag.
That hole in the window...
Eagle-eyed passengers may have noticed a tiny hole towards the bottom of each window pane. As insignificant as it may seem, it's there for safety reasons. Officially called a breather hole, it's found in the middle pane to regulate pressure between the inner and outer panes of the window, which are made from super strong synthetic resin. It means that if there’s extra pressure in the plane, it would transfer to the outer pane so even if that broke from pressure, the middle one is there in case of emergency. It also stops the window from fogging up, which means we can take incredible pictures of the earth below…usually marked by the tell-tale hole in the pic!
Planes are designed to glide
Horror stories about an engine failing mid-flight are less horrible than you imagine. That’s because aeroplanes are designed to fly with one engine or without any engines at all: they can glide scores of miles on aerodynamic design alone. For example a Boeing 747 can glide for around 160 kilometres from a cruising altitude of 10,000 metres – that’s 10 to 20 minutes to touch down at the nearest safe landing place. This doesn’t always have to be an airport or disused runway; the most famous example is US Airways Flight 1549 which landed on the Hudson River in New York in 2009. Thankfully, incidents like that are rare, but it’s reassuring to know that planes are well-equipped to land us safely, even in extreme conditions.
Planes can make almost vertical take-offs
It might seem like NASA-level action, but planes can, if they were so inclined, propel forward from the runway only to lift their nose to the sky moments later. The G-force created makes it far from comfortable so you might not want to request it from the pilot on your next flight, but it’s something the Airbus A350 proved that commercial aeroplanes are capable of. So when you wonder if your plane is able to cope with high winds or in-sky U-turns, remember that commercial planes travel well within their comfort zone.
Oxygen masks give you around 15 minutes of air
Watch any safety demonstration on a plane, and oxygen masks play a key part. They’re what we’d rely on if cabin pressure drops – for if we didn’t have them, we, the crew and pilots would pass out because of the lack of oxygen in the higher altitudes. What we might not know is that these masks contain around 15 minutes worth of oxygen for each passenger. But there’s no need to fret, as that’s plenty of time for the pilot to bring the plane down to an altitude where masks aren’t needed. So like all aspects of flying, the resulting feature is the most effective and efficient solution available.
Wherever you plan to head to this year for your break from the norm, it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.