Photos Brian Losito (Air Canada)
Q: When a new aircraft is acquired, does it come with a warranty period similar to that of a new car? Jack Minacs, Markham, Ontario
An airplane’s “nose-to-tail” warranty is similar to a bumper-to-bumper car warranty in that most components are covered for a specified period, depending on the terms of the negotiated contract. Components such as engines, tires and brakes, which are all leased at Air Canada, come with their own warranties. But warranty or not, strict maintenance schedules based on hours flown and / or number of takeoffs and landings keep our aircraft in tip-top shape.
Q: Why do our ears get plugged upon descent, even though the cabin is pressurized? Christian-Marc Panneton, Québec
An aircraft’s cabin is pressurized to an equivalent of 6,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level at cruising altitude. As we descend, the cabin must depressurize – typically at 150 to 400 feet per minute compared to the aircraft’s descent rate of 1,500 to 2,000 feet per minute. For some passengers, the discomfort arises when the Eustachian tube, which equalizes the air pressure, is blocked. And if these tubes are tiny, as with babies, you’ll hear about it!
Q: What are all those dings heard when flying? Andrew Axson, Guelph, Ontario
The most frequent ding you’ll hear is the seat belt sign coming on or off. On Airbus aircraft, you’ll also hear a ding when the landing gear tucks into the belly. Other dings are heard when flight attendants at different stations use the interphone to communicate with each other, when the flight deck calls a flight attendant and when passengers press the assist button. And you may even hear cooking timers dinging in the galley.