Saturday, March 26, 2016

Airplane Pens

This is a bit of a short post today to make up for all the heavy posts recently. Me, I'm enjoying the long weekend and a bit of sunshine…


This photograph from Heathrow Airport was posted to Reddit with the question:

What is this plane doing in this enclosed bay?

The correct answer is the top comment:

Probably got new engines, they use enclosures like these to run them up to 110-120% N1 to see if they explode.

Specifically, an aircraft is placed in the pen if the engines need to be run up to full power. This can be new engines, as the poster above mentioned, or for testing, for example for finding an oil leak. The wheels are blocked with chocks and the brakes are put on before the engines are run up to full power.

Another poster used a photograph to demonstrate the importance of the walls:


That photograph is from Toulouse in November 2007, when an Etihad Airbus A340-600 crashed into the walls of its test pen. The investigation discovered that the procedures were not correctly followed and the engines were all operating at high power without wheel chocks. The engine power at full was just beyond the parking brake capacity to hold.

When the Airbus surged forward, the test crew pressed the brake pedals and turned the nose-wheel sharply to the right, leaving the engines at full power. Turning the wheel had the opposite effect of what they wanted: it decreased the brake pressure.

The correct response would have been to reduce the engine thrust immediately.

Meanwhile, the conversation on Reddit about the pen quickly got silly.

If it explodes, it won't be used on transatlantic trips. Just European routes.

And then there was an alternative explanations:

Was naughty and needs a time out.

And one that took its location and livery into account

It's the British Airways airplane zoo. The walls are there so it doesn't escape.

All great answers!

In other news, I'm excited to note that Fear of Landing is now cited as a source on TV Tropes!

Real Life / Schizo Tech – TV Tropes

  • By the arrival of year 2016, most countries have global economies, blazingly fast computers, active mars landers, and TV Tropes. Meanwhile, the few uncontacted tribes are so far behind in technology that both sides of the Trojan War (~1190 BC) would consider them primitive. Just a couple years prior, an anthropologist's plane got too close to Sentinel Island and had a hundred or so arrows put in it. Not surprisingly, the anthropologists agreed that they would remain uncontacted.

Anthropologists decided that this tribewas to remain "uncontacted"...

That links to my article debunking the myth (the aircraft in question was part of an art display).

Pretty cool, huh?

Have a great weekend and I'll see you all here again next week.

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