Plane Pitstops: Fact File
When passengers leave the plane at its destination, it might be the end of their journey but for the airline staff, work will only just be beginning to get everything ready for the next flight…
1. Tidy up!
One of the first things to be done is to have a tidy up. The air crew will remove as much rubbish as possible from the seats and floors, and then cleaners will go through to give everything a thorough going over. There’s also a special cleaning job that needs a bit of extra help.
2. Clean the toilets!
Well if you think about it, the average passenger plane can carry several hundred passengers and as many as ten toilets. Getting rid of the toilet waste is a job for extractor machines.
Tubes are attached to the outside of the plane to slurp it all into tanks.
3. New supplies!
After all the waste has been taken away its time for new supplies to be brought in. This includes things like fresh water – not just to drink but for the toilets and sinks, clean laundry, and food and drink for the passengers – and don’t forget the air crew too – they need supplies as well! From bread rolls to toilet rolls – whatever will be needed for the flight has to come on board somehow.
If you are waiting for a flight and looking at the airfield, sometimes you can see vans and lorries driving up to planes with supplies. Maybe you can guess what they’re delivering!
There’s another very important supply that the plane will need…
It’s fuel! A passenger plane can use as much as 12 litres of fuel every km, that’s the same as 6 large bottles of drink. With a summer holiday to Spain being around 1,500 kms away, that’s 18,000 litres or 9,000 bottles worth!
Major airports have complex pipe networks underground, so you won’t see many fuel tankers driving around. The maintenance team simply use a tube from the ground that clicks directly into the hull of the plane. Most large planes will have three or more tanks, located in the wings as well as along the main fuselage.
5. Check for problems!
As well as refuelling the plane, maintenance engineers will also check over the outside and the inside of the aircraft to ensure that everything is working perfectly – from the amount of air in the tyres to the on-board entertainment system, as well as ensuring the windows are clean!
Pilots make notes during all flights of anything that isn’t working quite as it should. The engineers will look through these reports and fix any problems – the plane will only be allowed to take off once all these repairs and checks have been made.
If it’s icy or been snowing, there’s another important step to keep everyone safe – the plane must be de-iced. Ice can make moving parts of the plane get stuck.
Now your parents might use as scraper or sprays on the car windscreen. Well, they use sprays on planes too – just very massive spray nozzles from tankers using special chemicals.
In no time, the plane will be ready and the next group of passengers will board ready to take off on their adventure!
Amy Aviation with support from the Royal Aeronautical Society. Click here to find out more.