Why is it that it is ….?

The document contains answers to the following questions:

1. Significance of the tiny “Hole” in the aircraft’s window!

2. You get drunk faster at cruising altitude! But Why?

3. You can get stuck on a plane toilet if you flush while sitting down!

4. Can aircraft doors be opened during flights ?

5. Aircraft dump their toilet waste above the sea !

1. Significance of the tiny “Hole” in the aircraft’s window!

Airplane windows consist of three separate panes. The “Outer pane” deals with this air pressure difference inside and outside the cabin. Then we have the “Middle pane”, while the outer pane takes on the pressure, the middle pane acts as a fail-safe (protective layer), if in any case the outer one breaks the middle one will take the load of the pressure difference. How?

Thanks to the tiny holes in the middle pane, known as the “bleed hole.” Its primary purpose is to balance air pressure. There is a small gap between the middle and outer panes. The “bleed hole” allows pressure to balance between the passenger cabin and the air gap between the inner and the outer pane. The inner pane is not a structural part of the aircraft but it helps to protect the middle and outer panes from damage caused by passengers. The “bleed hole” also releases moisture from the air gap. This prevents the window from fogging up or frosting over.

2. You get drunk faster at cruising altitude! But Why?

Yes it’s true, seems to be surprising and pocket friendly as only one bottle of beer will suffice, the reason behind is that the aircrafts are not pressurized to sea level (it’s the equivalent of breathing at about 8,000 feet up), there’s less oxygen in the air, which can make you feel drunk sooner.

3. You can get stuck on a plane toilet if you flush while sitting down!

Aircraft toilets have a closed vacuum system. When you flush the toilet, a powerful vacuum system located near the waste tank sucks down anything that’s lying over the hole and draws it down into the tank. And we mean anything! We regularly find objects in the disposal tank that definitely shouldn’t be there. But never any passengers! The reason being that the vacuum only works near the mouth of the disposal pipe.

You can get stuck, but only if your body forms a perfect seal on the vacuum toilet. This is difficult to do but still some of us must have tried and despite serious suction, got up without a problem. But it’s still probably a good idea to stand before flushing.

4. Can aircraft doors be opened during flights ?

Myth related to this is that the cabin doors can only be opened if the pressure on the inside and outside of the aircraft are virtually the same.

The pressure inside and outside is certainly not the same after take-off. The air pressure at high altitude is dangerously low, which is why the cabin pressure is increased artificially.

If you look closely at aircraft doors, you’ll see that they fit into the aircraft almost like a cork. A nifty mechanical system ensures that they can also open outwards.

When the door is closed, cabin pressure is exerted on the door. The force with which this takes place is determined by the difference in interior and exterior air pressure and the surface area of the door. As Sir Isaac Newton so concisely put it: F = p x A. This force is far greater than the muscle power of the strongest passenger. In short, you can not just open the door at cruising altitude (in a civil aviation aircraft). Once the plane has landed, the pressure difference is minimized and the doors can be opened.

Only cabin crew are allowed to do this, of course, because the automatic emergency slides have to be disarmed first. When the plane draws to a halt at the gate, you’ll hear the pilot say: “Cabin crew, disarm the slides.” When the monitoring system in the cockpit indicates that all doors are safe, the pilot will say: “Cabin Crew, doors may be opened.”

5. Aircraft dump their toilet waste above the sea !

This is logically not true, if one thinks closely not each flight will have the pleasure of passing over or near the sea. So, the waste contents from the toilet get sucked down by a pipe to waste tanks at the rear of the aircraft. The waste tanks are emptied – as they should be – at the airport after every landing, regardless of how full they are. This is done by lavatory services and the truck which carry these wastes is termed as honey truck.

Loving it? Stay with us for the part 2 of facts and myths. Do not forget to hit the like button. Also shoot down such questions in the comment section that are still unanswered, we will answer them in the second part of this article.

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