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What is good about the Airbus A380?
Written by Capt Lim   
Tuesday, 15 January 2008 07:11

Dear Captain Lim,

There has been a lot of anticipation about the birth of the state-of-art Airbus A380.

Could you please tell me what is good about the Airbus A380?

Thank you


The Airbus A380
What happens when a pilot suffers a heart attack in the air?
Written by Capt Lim   
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 21:41

Captain of diverted flight dies after heart attack

Pilots and heart attacks

All co-pilots have been trained to handle such an emergency as part as their normal duties besides assisting the Captain. In fact, they are taught to take over at the most critical stage of the flight, usually during automatic landing in bad weather when a Captain becomes incapacitated just before touch down. This is especially so when he fails to respond to a pre-planned check list response.

There are special procedures to recognize an incapacitation at these critical moment. The co-pilot would automatically take over when certain stipulated responses are not forthcoming below certain critical heights from 500 to 200 feet above ground level. The reason is that it would be too late to clarify whether it was alright with him. Abort the landing first and find out the cause when the airplane is at a safe altitude later! So stringent procedures are there to take care of pilot incapacitation.

It is not a major problem when a co-pilot lands the aircraft if the Captain has a heart attack. He has been thoroughly trained to do so at any time. It is not to say that it would be easy, for he has to work extra hard alone to land the airplane safely. If the Captain slump over and obstruct the flying controls, the co-pilot would usually seek the assistant of the flight attendant to secure the incapacitated Captain firmly to the seat with his safety belts.

If he has difficulty in landing the airplane, he would just press a button, known as a TOGA (Take Off Go Around on a B777) switch, on the flying control column and the aircraft would abort the landing. The airplane would execute a go around automatically and climb to a safe altitude, giving the copilot a chance to sort out the situation before attempting another safe landing.

There have been many cases where the Captain was incapacitated and the copilot was able to land the aircraft successfully. One incident involved a hijack attempt in Japan Airlines recently where the Captain was killed by the hijacker and the copilot landed the aircraft without any problem.

Pilot suffers heart attack in flight!

Taipeh, Mon. - A China Airlines pilot suffered a heart attack today en route to Vietnam, forcing the co pilot to abort the flight and make a quick turnaround back to Taipeh.

Captain G.I Gueorguiev, 45, lost consciousness about 40 minutes after Flight CI 652 took off for Ho Chi Minh City, so 27 years old co pilot Lin Hsin took control and landed the plane safely, company spokesman Scott Shih said.

None of the 259 passengers were injured, and the Airbus A300-600 took off again by late morning with a new pilot at the controls.

Gueorguiev, a Bulgarian, was immediately sent to hospital and "showed no signs of life", although doctors did not immediately pronounce him dead, Shih said. Doctors said the pilot had a heart attack. - AP.

Are the Airbus A380 engines more powerful than those of the Boeing 777?
Written by Capt Lim   
Thursday, 24 August 2006 09:02

Hi Captain Lim,

Thanks abundantly! It impresses me ever to see you, not only having advanced into what you desired, but pursuing it further from all corners - such as this remarkable website of yours!

A Question: The Airbus A380 engines are massive and its titanium blades are prominently much broader. Yet they produce a thrust of 70,000 pounds each as compared to the smaller Boeing 777 engines that produce a heftier 92,000 pounds of thrust each.

Please explain.

Thanks and Blessings.

Glen Reuben

Hi Glen,

Yes, the Airbus A380 may be one of the largest passenger aircraft (second only to the Russian Antonov AN225) in the world today, but its engines (four Rolls Royce Trent 900 Turbo fan) are not necessary the most powerful. They may look massive with their titanium turbine blades or *prominently broader* but the record goes to the Boeing 777 engines.

Each RR Trent 900 has been cleared to eventually certify at 81,000 lbs of thrust (more than 75,000 HP). It is currently being run at 76,500 lbs (about 71,000 HP)

The Boeing 777-200 IGW (now also known as the Boeing 777-200ER) that I flew, was fitted with the Trent 892 engines and produce up to 90,300 lbs of thrust each. In fact, the real record for the world*s most powerful engines goes to GE90-115B engines fitted onto the Boeing 777-300ER. Each engine produces up to 115,300 lbs of thrust!

Ah, but remember, the Airbus A380 has 4 engines. So the total thrust is multiplied four times (76,500 x 4 = 306,000 lbs of thrust) as compared to the two engines of the Boeing 777-300ER (115,300 x 2 = 230,600 lbs of thrust). Overall, the Airbus A380 is still more powerful.

The Airbus A380, with the RR Trent 900 engines, will be the first long-haul aircraft to consume less than three liters of fuel per passenger over 100 kilometers (approximately 81 miles per US gallon) ? a fuel consumption comparable to the best of the small modern turbo-diesel cars.

From the Rolls Royce website, here are some more interesting facts: 

. At take-off, the A380*s four Trent 900s will deliver a thrust equivalent equal to the power of more than 3,500 family cars. 
. The engine*s hollow, titanium fan blades suck in over 1.25 tons of air every second and could empty four squash courts per second. 
. The fan operates at nearly 3,000 rpm with tip speeds at 1.5 times the speed of sound. 
. By the time the air leaves the exhaust it has been accelerated to a speed of nearly 1,000 miles per hour. 
. Temperatures in the engine core are half those on the surface of the sun. 
. The blades in the engine*s high-pressure system rotate at 12,500 rpm, with tip speeds reaching 1,200 miles per hour. 
. Each Trent 900 has around 20,000 individual components.

Why the Airbus A380 does not have winglets similar to the A340?
Written by Capt Lim   
Sunday, 19 February 2006 08:45
Dear Captain Lim,

I am currently waiting for my 2nd interview from Cathay Pacific that is being held next week. After browsing through the Internet, I found someone posting a few technical questions being asked during his 2nd stage interview. At this moment, I am still unable to answer those questions. Would you please give me a hand on them?

1. Why did A380 and A340 have different type of winglets? Why did Airbus use the same type of winglet originally designed for the A320 and implement it on A380 instead of using the type for A340?

2. If the static tube on the pressure head is iced up during the descent, what will the altimeter indicate? What will happen to the airspeed indicator?

3. Why modern aircraft uses the Directional Indicator instead of a compass? How does a Directional Indicator work? Does it work with a compass? Does a Directional Indicator has deviation and variation corrections as applied on a compass?

I hope to receive your response soon.



Hi Benny,

1. First you have to understand the reasons of having winglets on planes. See answers to one of my previous FAQ.

Anyway, lets review on some issues concerning the debate on why there are no winglets on the Boeing 777 and why Airbus A330/340 has them.

Boeing chose to increase the span of the wing rather than add winglets. By increasing the wingspan, it also increases wing efficiency. Increasing the wing by 4/5 of the height of winglets will have the same effect as having a winglet. Yes, winglets reduce wing tip vortices and therefore induced drag. But they have disadvantages: If one of the winglets is damaged and removed, it would burn an extra 1 % more fuel and the take off weight may be reduced by as much as 15,000 to 30,000 kg. On the Airbus, the weight of the winglets helps to reduce bending moments on the outer wing during flight. Without it, the outer wing will be able to twist and bend to a higher degree for any given weight.

The increased wingspan on the Boeing 777 creates a higher aspect ratio (a measure of how long and slender a wing is from tip to tip - the square of the span divided by the wing area) on the wings, thus improving the take off, climb and cruise performance without adding winglets ? hence reducing the simplicity and construction cost of the wing design.

Now, to go back on your question on why the Airbus A380 did not follow the Airbus A330/340 winglet design but rather more or less imitate the old design ?wingtip fences? of the Airbus A320. Basically winglets help to reduce induced drag and improve performance (also increases aspect ratio slightly). However, the Airbus A380 has very large wing area due to the large wingspan that gives it a high aspect ratio. So, it need not have to worry about aspect ratio but needs only to tackle the induced drag problem. Therefore, it does not require the winglets, but merely ?wingtip fences? similar to those of the Airbus A320.

2. If the static tube on the pressure head is iced up during the descent, what will the altimeter indicate? What will happen to the airspeed indicator?

a. If the static tube of the pressure head is iced up, the static pressure inside the altimeter will remain constant. Therefore the altimeter will display the altitude when the static tube was iced up even though the plane may be climbing or descending. For example, the icing was encountered at 5000 feet; the height will indicate 5000 feet even if you were at 10,000 feet or 1000 feet!

b. In the case of the airspeed indicator (ASI), a static tube blockage would cause the static pressure in the ASI to remain constant. The ASI reading would be correct at constant altitude. However, during a descent, it will overread (due to trapped low static pressure of higher altitude) and underread (due to the trapped high static pressure of the low altitude) during a climb.

3. Why modern aircraft uses Directional Indicator instead of a compass? How does a Directional Indicator work? Does it work with a compass? Does a Directional Indicator has deviation and variation same as a compass?

The modern aircraft uses the Direction Indicator (DI) or directional gyro (DG) instead of a compass because it gives a more steadier (due to rigidity) heading information to the pilot than a basic compass (eg. those used by scouts or trackers on the ground).

To understand how a DI works, you must understand the principle of the gyroscope. A gyroscope is a body rotating freely in space that has the property of rigidity and precession.

The DI uses an internal gyroscope whose stability provides accurate directional information once it is set to the correct heading. Because the earth rotates at 15? per hour and because of small-accumulated errors caused by friction, the DI will drift over time. It must be reset from the compass periodically - once each fifteen minutes of flight. Failure to do will give rise to navigation errors among new pilots.

So basically, a DI is a gyroscope that displays the aircraft heading by making use of a compass rose display. The gyroscope axis is aligned to the true north.

The DI suffers from turning and acceleration errors but any deviation and variation corrections are applied to the aircraft track only. Remember, the magnetic compass works with the DI as a single instrument known as the remote indicating compass (RMI)
Do you know anything about this Super Jumbo?
Written by Capt Lim   
Thursday, 17 November 2005 10:11

Dear Captain Lim,

I know there will be a Super-Jumbo jet being put into service soon and that is by far the greatest commercial plane. Do you know anything about this brand-new plane? Do you think your company will operate this plane?

How different will it be in controlling such a huge jet from the present Boeing 747-400?

Thanks for sharing your opinion.


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