Watch the Wing When Landing!

Do you ever fly inside a Boeing 737 (let’s read it as 73) before? Those who live in Sarawak should’ve traveled inside a 73 if you wanted to go to the Peninsular. I believe those who ever fly within Peninsular Malaysia will at least flied once with 73, since Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia have a lot of 73. I hope you’d sit at the window seat before, where you’ll be able to see the back part of the wing.

You’d probably guessed that the most interesting time to watch the wing is when during approach (landing phase). That is the time when the aircraft is still descending and you’ll be able to make out houses and shop lots by looking at the surface of the earth. That is the time; the wing is sort of like extending piece of piece at the trailing edge (back side of the wing).

The things extending outward, are called Flaps (Fowler Slotted Flaps, to be more precise). Basically speaking, it is extended to make the wing area larger so that the wing is able to create more lift while slowing down. The plane need to slowdown before touching down on the runway usually at a speed around 130knots for 73 (believe it or not, it’s more than 200Km/h) to reduce tyre stress and wear.

Due to the design of the wing, without the flaps extended, it’ll need to keep a really high nose up pitch to maintain specific lift at specific speed, thus limiting what the pilot can see from the cockpit. So, flaps are used so that the nose can be lowered but still maintaining the same amount of lift at the same speed. This is done by increasing the effective Angle of Attack using the increment of flap angle. Usually the flap comes down in stages, controlled by the pilot (etc. 0°, 2°, 5°, 10°, 15°, 25°, 30°, 40°).

So why aren’t these flaps open all the way from the beginning since they can give so much lift and visual clearance. They create a lot of drag too. And since Jets are built to fly fast, large wing area will not allow that. Lift will be sufficient using small wing area whereby you’ll have high relative airflow (by flying fast). But the simple sweptback wing design will not be effective for low speed flying as it’s very easy for them to stall (wing lose the ability to create life due to turbulent airflow).

When you’re one to two minutes before touchdown, and after maximum (or almost) flap is extended, you’ll see this white smoke coming out near the tip of the wing (which I think unique to the 73). This is actually caused by condensation of the air, cooling the air to its dew point temperature. It is the really high speed of the relative airflow that causes the temperature to go down so much. It’s also due to the enormous amount of lift created by the wing that causes the air to sleep up so fast. You only see this during landing where it’s more humid near the surface of the earth.

Right after touchdown (usually you’ll hear a “tud” or tyre “screak”) you’ll see some part of the wing (in the middle, between the leading edge and closer to the trailing edge) open outward. The surfaces that extended out are called spoilers. During landing, it is used to prevent the wing from making lift by directing the air upward, pushing the wing (and the whole plane) downward, so the wheel (or main gear) brakes can be more effective. It’s also to slow down the plane by creating lots of drags.

If you sit at the window seat where you can only see the leading edge of the wing, you also have your own set of stuff to discover. Flaps on the leading edge are called slats, and they’ll also extent when flaps are extended, but not as much as flaps do. They’re extended to actually make the air traveling on top of the wing to go smoother, so higher angle of attack can be achieve before the wing stall but with the expense of more drag.

Once touchdown, usually after the spoiler is opened and the nose wheel is also down, you’ll notice that the engine’s cover will open (The cylinder shaped thing that’s fix on the wing, 73 got one engine on each wing). That is when the reverse thrust is kicked in. The reverse thrust works by directing the relative airflow sucking into the engine from the front and directing it back to the front (not by sucking the air from behind and push to the front). With that, the reverse thrust is only effective if it’s used at high speed, the point when the airplane just landed and until the plane slows down to 60 knots (~110Km/h). That is the time the breaks will be the only thing stopping the 50,000 Kg (roughly) going as fast as 100Km/h.

For your information, it’s the engines that push the air behind, and make the plane move, accelerate and fly. It’s not the wheels and gears that drive the plane, as it’s only some free moving parts.

I’m not copying from any books for this blog, it’s all from what I know, and I try to be as precise as possible without getting into too much technical details. So if you find anything misleading, please let me know, and I’ll correct it, both the blog and my knowledge.

Watch the Wing When Landing!

Dash Eight Hundred

I got a scare just now when the uncle at the Check-in counter told me that he need to check whether there’s seats it not for the flight I am going to take. Apparently a Firefly flight was canceled, and the passengers need to be shifted to MAS. 10 minutes later he allowed me to check in. Whew.

After entering the boarding hall only did I found out that the flight has been retimed to 30 minutes past scheduled. So I went around taking photos. Spotted a private jet, probably from China. Then I met my senior currently working for MasWing based in Kuching.

He’s the one who told me that my plane has arrived, and it’s a 737-800, or seven three eight. It’s also one of those new planes with the latest cabin design and in-flight entertainment. It’s my first time flying in these new baby.

A quick look in the cabin, I noticed there’re no more colourful seats, and they’re all now leather covered. Overhead compartment is also very different, I guess they’re larger now.

Sitting down, I can notice the biggest addition to the 737, inflight entertainment and LCD screens on each and every single seats. However most of the features seem disabled, I’m guessing they only enable them for the Korea/Japan/Perth flights, or simply not available at all.

There is an USB port, and I’m able to use it to charge my Android phone with it. My phone detected that it can be a USB drive, but I can’t seem to find anything in the IFE to play the media files in my phone. There’s a QWERTY keypad but, no way you’re going to use it to type stuff into your phone or ipad via the USB cable.

The new plane comes with bigger window, good for viewing and of course photography. I am seated in the row with the emergency exit window hatches, so the legroom is VERY big. Something technical, the emergency window hatches for the -800 is a spring outward type. The one in 734 requires a person to actually open and detach the very heavy hatches, and throw it outside. The lavatory is pretty much the standard -800 ones, so does the Galley, I guess.

Photos will be attached soon, come back soon!

Updated on 20110905: Overdue photos uploaded.

Dash Eight Hundred


I’d found a forum archive describing pilot in chinese. Of course it doesn’t apply to every pilot, maybe more for the PRC, but it’s something to read.

他人眼中的飞行员( 转)


做飞行员的另一半,真的不容易! 飞行员的太太,早上醒来,总是一个人。每天还不放心,一担心他飞行安全,又怕他感情出轨,因为他们总是在外面,你不知道他们在做什么,而且他们身边总是围绕着美丽的空姐。



所有的电视剧里,飞行员都是空姐眼中的神,能嫁给一个飞行员或者和飞行员谈恋爱是件了不起的事儿。空姐嫁给飞行员似乎成了天经地义的事儿。然而飞行员也不觉得自己很受空姐崇拜,甚至有些空姐也并不怎么把飞行员放在眼里。 他们跟普通人没什么区别,只是进入驾驶舱之后,他们工作的时候特别认真。不管是什么性格的人,也许平时嘻嘻哈哈的,但进了驾驶舱就像变成了另外一个人,变得特别严谨。他们比其他同龄的年轻人要成熟稳定一些。他们有点大男人主义,说一不二的风格。





Added later today: I notice someone went all the way to translate the article using a web-service. The result are somewhat close to the real meaning, but it’s not entirely accurate and very hilarious to read.


Self Study at Home

Proof that I’m doing self study at home. I never thought before that my dad’s 19″ LCD monitor will come in such a great use. The setup was fantastic for my Normal Procedure (NP) practicing, which include memorising 46 pages of “things-to-do”. I’m not new to multi-monitor setup, I’d started using two monitors since 2005 when I’d upgraded my graphic card to an ATi Radeon 9600pro, which has both DVI and VGA output, on my old desktop PC.

Back in 2005

By using a DVI-VGA converter, I manage to use my old 15″ monitor, while using my 17″ as the main monitor; both are CRT monitors. Right now in 2009 the LCD is connected to my laptop’s VGA output. One thing is still the same, I’m still playing (now practicing) with Flight Simulator 2004, which is FIVE years old by now.

While waiting for my training to continue, my batch-mates from Langkawi who later joined AirAsia are already flying their Airbus A320. Not mere started flying, but one just had his base check and another one burst his monthly flying hour. Finger crossed that my training will start no later than April. For the meantime, I’ll try to be hardworking revising at home.

Self Study at Home


Finally, I got my passport today. I had a passport when I was still a little kid, it expired 10 years ago! The only reason my parents got me a passport then is to pass through Brunei to go to my father’s hometown in Limbang. The last time I used it was three months before it expired in 1998. Still, it was special to have my own passport at the age of two, usually it’s attach to the mother’s passport.

So all this while I do not have a passport, in fact, I never went to any over sea destination before. Although Brunei is a foreign country, it’s just next to Miri. It’s so close that nowadays I have friends living in Miri popping into Brunei just to have Sushi. It’s like Singapore and Johor, speaking of Singapore, I never went there before. The furthest I ever went, ironically over South China Sea, is only Langkawi, and that is still Malaysia.

I’m looking forward to go to many foreign countries around this region, furthest being Macau, during my observation flights. I will only be stepping on the tarmac of the airport for the first time I visit those countries. Sound sad? Sounds fun for me!


LIMA 2007

Here’s a quick update. Where was I? Alright, after coming back from Terengganu, I stayed in Langkawi for a little more than a week for nothing before I went to KL for a week and a half. I want to thank Ah Seng again for allowing me to stay at his place. Without his place, I have to stay very far away from KL thus very inconvenience for me to go to the city centre.

I purposely come back to Langkawi for LIMA (Langkawi International Maritime and Air Show), which is the biggest airshow in Malaysia held every two years. If it wasn’t for my school’s delays, I would’ve miss it. So I will do everything to visit it otherwise it’ll be pointless to be stranded in this little island for so long. I also get to go in on the first day, which is not open for the public, because my school got a booth set up over there.

Red Arrow

The most exciting part of the even is seeing the performance of Red Arrow Aerobatic team by British Air Force. I got some photos taken today posted in my Multiply, however only my close contacts there are able to view it. Do check back everyday until the 8th of the month for new updates there. Enjoy~

LIMA 2007