Crabbing: The Crosswind Landing

Have you ever heard of crabbing? No not the act of trying to catch crabs, but the art of the crosswind landing? It’s an amazing feat that every pilot has to learn how to do at some point or another—and earns a rank among the trickiest landings out there. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like. (You can ignore the sensational tone of the of the video title. Crabbing is nothing out of the ordinary for most pilots.)

A crosswind landing is needed when the winds do not align with the runway. For example, when the winds are blowing west to east on a runway that goes north to south. As you can imagine, getting buffeted from the sides by winds requires a little change in tack.

Enter: Crabbing.

For starters, the pilot needs to get a bit of extra speed to cut through the wind. Using a crosswind component chart, pilots can calculate how much speed they need to add per knot of wind blowing their way. After a pilot has a solid idea of the right amount of thrust, they make small changes here and there to compensate for changes in the wind.

crosswind-component-chart

Crosswind Component Chart via SWAviator.com

As the pilot gets closer and closer to the runway, things get trickier. The crosswinds push the plane away from the runway, requiring the pilot to steer into the wind to offset the drift. That’s why the planes in the above video look so odd as they’re landing. They’re poised to work around the wind.

From there, it’s a matter of adjusting the ailerons and the rudder, to finely adjust the plane’s roll and yaw, respectively. Then, one set of landing gears will make contact with the ground first, followed shortly by the other one, resulting in a jarring sensation as if the plane is landing wrong. Of course, it’s all part of the plan.

Today’s technology and pilot expertise means that crosswind landings happen less often, and when they do they’re safer than ever. So the next time you see a plane land at an angle, no reason to panic—that plane is just crabbing.

For some more crosswind landings, I recommend taking a look at this video. (Notice how the title just mentions crosswind landings and spares us any of the dramatic “near-crash verbiage”.)

Thanks for reading.

BELAL EL-ATARI

The End of the Bermuda Triangle

For anyone who has a passing familiarity with aviation, mention of the Bermuda Triangle is likely to provoke either laughter or chills. The exact boundaries of the triangle are a little vague, but it’s generally considered to be an area that is somewhere between Puerto Rico, Florida, and of course Bermuda.

Over the years a number of nautical mysteries—from the disappearance of a US Fighter Squadron during World War II to even the fabled City of Atlantis—have been associated with the region. Some even proposes that Malaysia Airlines MH370 crashed there. Never mind, that a thorough review of vessels and aircraft lost there reveals that not that many craft have actually disappeared and that those that did had very practical reasons for their disappearance. The Bermuda Triangle still holds a grasp over the minds of many. Like Area 51 or Troy, the Bermuda Triangle seems fated to forever remain steeped in speculation.

The atmosphere of mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle and the likes of Malaysia Airlines MH370 speaks to a current gap in aviation knowledge. Pilots can communicate their positions via radio, air traffic controllers can roughly trace a planes trajectory as long as it’s in range of radar, and planes can even share their own stories how they’ve disappeared with in the data-packed black boxes that they carry, if not the remnants of debris that are discovered. But the ocean is big, the world is big, and what Malaysia Airlines MH370 reminds us is that depending on where a plane is in the world, it very might fall into a blindspot.

Currently, plane’s locations are tracked via ground systems—the fatal reason for so many unexplained disappearance—but a new system aims to track the paths of airplanes via the air. FlightAware and Aireon LLC are collaborating on a project to develop a new satellite technology called ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast) receivers on several low orbit satellites. Dubbed Global Beacon, the project would bring up aviation intel to the internet age, allowing air traffic controllers to track planes in real-time via web-based tools.

The Aireon System / Aireon

The Aireon System / Aireon

Global Beacon is expected to be operational by 2018. Maybe then can we finally put the speculation behind disappearances to rest, and with them, the mythical Bermuda Triangles of the globe.

Belal El-Atari

Chariots of the Sky: Presidential Aircraft in the US and Elsewhere

Like the Shadow, the Phantom, the Black Panther, and even President of the United States, Air Force One is not just one thing. It is a mantle passed down from one generation to the other. Although the designation was first used during Eisenhower’s administration, the United States has a long history of Presidents and planes.

Image of air force one on the tarmac

If you want to get around the world quickly, you’re going to need a plane. And if you just so happen to be a government figure, you better make sure that your aircraft is stylish in addition to being ultra safe. For the most extreme circumstances, you’ll want to make sure that your plane is equipped with radiation pulse shields

Here’s a look at some chariots of the sky used by heads of state across the world.

Note: I plan to add more photos in the future. Added 🙂

Australia

Aircraft: Two 737 Boeing Business Jets and Three Challenger 604s

Fun Fact: The Australian Special Purposes Fleet is used by the Prime Minister, Governor General, Foreign Minister, and even the British Royal Family (when visiting).

737 Boeing Business Jet

737 Boeing Business Jet

Canada

Aircraft: Five Airbus A310-300s (CC-150 Poloaris) and Four Bombardier Challenger 604 Business Jets

Fun Fact: Out of the Five CC-150 Polaris craft, only one of them is operated for carrying VIPs. This one is dubbed No. 001 or Royal Flight when carrying royalty.

CC-150 Poloaris

CC-150 Poloaris

China

Aircraft: Eight Boeing 737-300s and Two 737-700s

Fun Fact: In 2000, China ordered a 767-300ER from Delta Airlines. Soon later, after the plane had been refitted in San Antonio, Chinese authorities claimed that they found 27 bugs onboard the craft.

Boeing 737-300

Boeing 737-300

India

Aircraft: Four Boeing 747-437B

Fun Fact: The official call sign of any aircraft carrying the President of India or Prime Minister of Inida is Air India One.

Boeing 747-437B

Boeing 747-437B

Japan

Aircraft: Two Boeing 747-400

Fun Fact: These crafts have two different types of call signs. Japanese Air Force One and Two for official business, and Cygnus One and Two for operations outside of official business.

Boeing 747-400

Boeing 747-400

Russia

Aircraft: Ilyushin Il-96-300PU

Fun Fact: It is rumored that this plane has gold plated walls an escape pod, much like the one featured in Air Force One.

Ilyushin Il-96-300PU

Ilyushin Il-96-300PU

The UK

Aircraft: Voyager A330, Agusta A109, and BAE-146 airliners

Fun Fact: For domestic flights, the Queen often uses a Sikorsky S-76C++ as part of The Queen’s Helicopter Flight.

Voyager A330

Voyager A330

United States

Aircraft: Two Customized Boeing 747-200B Jetliners

Fun fact: “One” is used as the call sign for the call sign of any craft containing the President. So just like “Air Force One”, you could also have “Army One”, “Marine One”, etc. This just depends on which branch the craft corresponds to. Any craft carrying the VP  has a “Two” at the end of it.

Boeing 747-200B

Boeing 747-200B

 

Belal El-Atari

A Brief History of Safety in Aviation

One of the less sexy aspects of aviation is safety. When the Wright Brothers first took to the skies with their Wright flyer, riding a plane was more of a thrill-seekers game than a business-person’s. Since then the aviation industry has seen a number of developments in safety and stability: from non-pressurized, astral-navigated journeys to jet engines and voice transmission air traffic control systems. This video by Airbus, does a great job of giving a (brief) history of the safety in aviation.

Have you heard of this technological breakthrough that will change aviation?

For more aviation news, follow me on Twitter @BelalElAtari

Airspace By Airbus: A Step Towards the New Normal

As a huge aviation nerd, seemingly mundane things like newly remodeled cabin spaces really interest me. In particular, I’m fascinated by designs that aim that embrace a futuristic aesthetic and function.

Earlier this year European plane-makers, Airbus, unveiled a new cabin design that will revolutionize the way we fly. Designers at Airbus turned to the internet to see what people want out of their flying experience. They looked to viral posts for an understanding of the troubles that frequently are disrupting passengers now and what they could do with previous designs to improve them overall. Airbus is looking to launch these new cabins with a new plane sometime in 2017.

airbus logo - blog on airbus' new cabin design by Belal El-Atari

New Features

The Airspace cabin is loaded with new features to make the overall flying experience enjoyable to all. They have cleared up some of the most complained about features on planes these days and it looks like their customers will be thrilled.

  • More Space

If you haven’t guessed already, the main feature in the new Airspace cabin will be more space! This is not just limited to leg rooms either. The cabin will have a standard 18 inch seat, which will give each passenger more individual room. There is also overhead luggage space that will fit five suitcases.

new cabin design by Airbus - blog by Belal El-Atari

Definitely next-gen.

  • Customizable

Airspace is also completely customizable. Each airline that purchases a new Airbus plane will have the option to add seats, take away seats and even rearrange the layout in general. This will be a great features for airlines to provide an excellent flying experience that coincides with the individual airline itself.

  • Mood lighting

The Airspace cabin will be equipped with mood lighting that can be controlled depending on the time of day or even they type of flight. This feature will help passengers feel calmer, let those on a red eye get some sleep, and overall add to the ambience of the sleek new design.

new Airbus design - article by Belal El-Atari

The future is now.

  • Better Wi-Fi

Probably the most exciting feature on the Airbus will be the onboard improved broadband. The updated Wi-Fi will allow passengers the ability to make phone calls, send text messages, and surf the web right inside the cabin. This feature is the icing on the cake that will make flying feel like less than a chore and more like an experience.

The New Normal

Airspace is a pioneering idea that will shape the way we fly moving forward. Flying will no longer be a hassle, but more of an enjoyable pre-vacation, relaxing experience. With Airbus behind the wheel, even a business flight can feel like an exciting new office space on the way to an important business trip. The possibilities are endless and Airspace will be the first to take us there.