Captain Steve Allright, a British Airways training captain with over 11 000 flying hours, answers your questions
How do jet engines work?
The front of the engine sucks in, then squeezes, air through rotor blades into a combustion chamber where aviation fuel is added and the mixture ignited. The air is blown out the back of the engine faster than it came in, causing the thrust that moves the aircraft forward.
How do aircraft steer on the ground?
A tiller moves the nose wheel. The pilots can also control the nose wheel by moving the rudder pedals.
Why are tractors needed to push the aircraft backwards?
Aircraft can’t reverse.
How do pilots communicate with foreign air traffic controllers?
Air traffic controllers and pilots speak English around the world.
Do crew have to check in?
Absolutely. Pilots get to the aircraft between 40 minutes and an hour before the flight.
Why do my ears pop during takeoff and landing?
As the aircraft climbs, the amount of oxygen decreases. In order to keep the oxygen at an acceptable level, the aircraft is automatically pressurized during the climb, using air from the engines and air con. As the air pressure changes in the cabin, your inner ear has to adjust to the pressure around you. If you have a cold or you inner ear is inflamed it can cause some pain. Close your mouth, pinch your nose and breathe out hard. Don’t worry if you can’t equalise during the decent; your ears will naturally adjust some time after landing.
Are most landings done using the autopilot?
About 98 % of the landings we do are manual to ensure flight crews maintain their skill levels. Autolands are for landing in fog or practicing slightly different procedures for automatic landings.
How much paint is used on an A380?
About 3 600 litres for the exterior.