What Does It Take To Be An Air Force Pilot – Attention, time travelers: the future is on board now. As the pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate, we are approaching a period of transformation for the aviation industry. Surprises on the horizon include everything from the duration of flights to the physical shape of the aircraft, and each development has the potential to change the way we experience flight.
The most amazing change can happen in the cockpit. With drones flying and testing self-driving cars on the road, the BBC reports that we already have the technology to fly a plane without a human pilot on board.
What Does It Take To Be An Air Force Pilot
NASA is not considering removing engines from aircraft, but is looking into the advantages of moving engines to the rear of an aircraft. It’s all part of a scheme called Boundary Layer Ingestion (BLI), designed to reduce jet engine fuel burn, emissions and operating costs. The theory is that placing the engines closer to the rear of the aircraft would reduce drag. NASA also maintains an online gallery of images of futuristic aircraft that gives a quick preview of what we might see in the air a decade or two from now.
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At Boeing, futurists are ignoring the “standards of what is currently possible” as they search for new materials that simultaneously reduce weight and increase the strength of the aircraft. One example is the use of “microlattice” structures that are 99.99% air but can become building blocks for next-generation aircraft.
The aircraft’s interiors are set to be altered as well, The Telegraph reports. Writing about the winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards, which were announced at the Aircraft Interiors fair in Hamburg, the paper specifically noted several trends. Increasing luxury and privacy in First Class and Business Class seats is one of the rising trends. The article also noted that folding seats designed by Airbus will make it possible to customize seat configurations on flights. Everything from entertainment systems to seat cushions to toilets is ready to be reimagined.
We may also see a shift from ride regulations regarding batteries in checked baggage to engineering developments that produce battery-powered aircraft. The Economist reports that research into electric propulsion may take this idea from science fiction to reality.
So make sure you keep your passport valid. These developments may hit the runways sooner than you expect, and you’ll want to be on board when they take off.
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Now, your turn => What development would you like to see the most in air travel in the future? Email us your idea The jet stream can have a huge impact on how long a plane will fly. Aeroprints via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA
Skip Bailey does not work for, consult, own or receive funding from any company or organization, and has not disclosed any relevant affiliations following her academic appointment.
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Why does it take longer to fly from east to west on an airplane? – Henry D, 7 years old, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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I’m a retired US Air Force pilot and flight instructor, and a few years ago I was sitting in the cockpit of a Boeing 747. I was 29,000 feet in the sky, flying from New Jersey to Sacramento, California, and then to Hawaii. It took six hours to fly and land the plane safely in Sacramento. After a few hours in California, I kept going to Hawaii, which took about five more hours to fly. That was a total of 11 flying hours.
After enjoying the Hawaiian sun, it’s time to head back to New Jersey. This trip went faster. I didn’t stop in California this time, but the return only took about eight and a half hours. I was still flying the same plane, and New Jersey was no closer to California or Hawaii than it was a few days ago.
So why was my trip to Hawaii, from east to west, so much longer than my trip home?
Jet currents always blow from west to east and can be found in many places around the world. Lyndon State College of Meteorology via Wikipedia
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The reason it takes longer to return is the jet stream, a river of fast-moving air high in the sky.
The jet streams are usually about 100 miles wide. They can reach thousands of miles in length and are found all over the Earth. To be called a jet stream, the wind must be moving faster than 60 miles per hour.
Jet currents generally blow from west to east around the land, often following a winding, curved path just like a river on land. The jet stream over the United States never stays in one place—it tends to move far south and blow hard in the winter, and it moves far north and doesn’t blow hard in the summer.
Aircraft pilots measure speed in two different ways. The first is airspeed – how fast will the wind go if you raise your hand out of the window. The second is ground speed – how fast the plane is moving over the ground. When you fly in the jet stream, your airspeed stays the same, but your ground speed can change a lot because the air around the plane is moving.
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On the way to Hawaii, I was flying at 562 mph. But as the jet stream was blowing against my plane—called a headwind—at 140 miles per hour, I was moving across the land at 422 miles per hour.
But while flying from Hawaii to New Jersey, a jet stream explodes from behind the plane and propels it forward. I was still flying at 562 mph, but the 140 mph tailwind meant my plane was moving across the ground at 702 mph.
The planes will try to avoid the jet stream when flying east to west, but try to stop the ride on the way back. ChaosNil via Wikipedia
When pilots plan their flight path, they often use weather forecasts to see where the jet stream is blowing. When they fly from east to west, they try to plan their trip so that the jet stream doesn’t blow against their plane and give them a bad headwind. When they plan their journey from west to east, they look for the jet stream and try to fly so that it gives them a big tail wind and helps them fly faster. A good plan can help save fuel, too.
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Next time you’re flying high across the country from east to west, don’t be surprised when it takes a little longer than you expect. But be excited to know that when you go back, the pilot will likely take a flight along the jet stream to get you home quickly.
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