Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Airbus A320

My second flight was on an Airbus A320 with registration VT-ADS owned by Air Deccan. I am a total fan of Airbus and I strongly believe in the engineering superiority of Europe over the USA. Thus I made yet another set of deductions for my second flight and pondered again how many would be correct.


The journey on the A320 would be much smoother than the 737. Reason : My belief that European engineering is superior to the Americans.

The plane would be all economy class. Reason : Air Deccan is a low cost carrier.

I could take a lot of pictures inside the aircraft. Reason : No food was served to the passengers and thus the flight attendants would just sit down.

I would be able to see the Anna University Dome. Reason : I knew from observation that all aircraft had full view of the campus during their approach.

Touchdown would be much smoother. Reason : I love Europeans :)


Right I was. The plane was smooth and handled perfectly. In spite of going through clouds very often, there was considerably less shaking than there would have been on a Boeing.

That was a simple one. Air Deccan charges more than Jet yet gives nothing to eat!

Wow I took a lot of photos. Inside the cabin, outside, etc. The plane was only 3/4th full, so I could get 2 windows all to myself.

Not only did I see the dome, I also saw people playing in the AU grounds!

The difference was too small to make out. So Boeing and Airbus stand at the same level :( .

I had also, in my awe-stricken state, forgotten to observe many things about the working of the aircraft during my first flight. For example in both flights I was sitting in full view of the wings and could see the control surfaces moving. It was only during the second flight that I observed a few things about the control surfaces.

The ailerons moved very little during the rolls. This is probably because of their being far from the fuselage on the side.

Flaps with their fairings are used with great efficiency in commercial jets. If not for them the plane could never fly at such low speeds required for landing.

Slats and flaps produce so much noise pollution. Contrary to expectations, about 40% of all the noise from an aircraft is from the slats and flaps. I experienced this first hand. Within the cabin the engine noise could never be heard. But before landing when the slats were deployed I was able to hear the whine of air around it. That must have been a lot of noise outside.

The spoilers or air-brakes are also used efficiently during landing.

I could clearly distinguish a series of sensors on the wings to measure various parameters like temperature, pressures, air-speed, etc.

Some Pictures

The A320 I was on. Registration VT-ADS

The sky looks blacker at 33000 feet.

A packet of chips blown up due to differential pressure.

The sensors that measure some parameters clearly visible.

Close up of a sensor in one of the flap fairings. Click to view large image.

The spoilers deployed to reduce air-speed.

Is the Captain looking at me!? Click to enlarge.

The Boeing 737

My first ever flight was on a Boeing 737-800 with registration VT-JGP owned by Jet Airways. In the research paper that we sent to NASA, the base of our design was comparable to the 737-900ER. Thus I had to read a lot about the 737s. All this translated into total transparent knowledge when I flew on the 737-800 that day.

On the eve of my first flight, before I knew which variant of the 737 I would fly on, I read the 737 manual and familiarized myself with the characteristics of all the variants. I made the following deductions and pondered how many of them would turn to be true.


There was a 35/54 chance that I would be on a 737-800. Source : Wikipedia

The aircraft would have both I class and Economy Class. Reason : Andaman & Nicobar islands are a place where only the middle class and rich people could go and so the plane will have to have both classes.

The plane would have cramped spaces. Source : 737 Specifications from its manual.

I would feel nothing while flying. Reason : I am on a plane and flying! That is what people say.

I would see other planes flying under or over my plane. Reason : Madras Airport is a fairly busy airport.


What happened to my deductions...

I was on a 737-800(VT-JGP). Probability works!

The plane had both I class and Economy class.

The plane was cramped like a bus. The overhead storage spaces were big though and there was good legroom.

How wrong I was! I discovered something very peculiar, one that nobody who had a previous experience in flying has told me. Normally while travelling in trains or buses, one feels motion(jerk due to changes in acceleration) in one or two different directions. You may rock from side to side or forwards and backwards. Whereas in an aeroplane the jerks are in all directions! It is like hanging in space and rocking slowly in all directions. It was awesome!

I was right again. I saw a Srilankan take off immediately after mine and another plane flying under me near Marina Beach.

So overall I was correct in all but one deductions. That is neat for a first-time traveller.

Some of the pictures of the aircraft VT-JGP. Taken by others. I have a video that I will post later.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My first Flight and first research paper

Flying has been the fascination of mankind from time immemorial. Aeroplanes have been my fascination since my childhood. Naturally the first flight is an exciting experience, especially since I come from a middle class family where people rarely fly. So I was fairly excited when I was informed that I would be flying to Port Blair and back on two of the world's best selling aircraft.

But the entire episode is not without irony. Normally people see very little when they fly on an aircraft. Neither do they see the type of aircraft they are on nor do they see the ground below. I, being a student of photogrammetry, could not, in the least, forget to observe the ground below (in 3D of course). Even more importantly I could neither forget to see the aircraft because I have just finished a research paper on a futuristic aircraft design with one of my seniors and have submitted it to a NASA competition. And as if all this compulsion were not enough I won a prize for it too! (You can see the abstract of the paper here and the result declaration on this NASA page)

So as a result of all this compulsion to perform and of course a (hell) lot of fascination, it inclines me to think that a series of blogs on my most overwhelming experience on board aircraft will be quite a treat for myself when I read it after some years. Therefore, I will be writing a series of blogs on the same.