Some people spend their entire careers working in aerospace and have some amazing stories. They’ve seen it all. They speak the language. They know even the most obscure acronyms. (If you don’t work in aerospace, the industry is FOT (Full of them).
For new people like me who are now on the inside, there are lots of things that surprise newcomers, but are old hat to the veterans.
To name a few:
Air Transport Isn’t Cargo.
Aerospace is divided up into many categories:
Defense and space
Air transport and regional
When I started, I kept hearing co-workers talk about air transport. At first, I assumed that meant cargo planes--- like the kind that UPS or Fed Ex might need. My logic sort of made sense—they probably had different fuel requirements or engine needs because of the extra weight. But I quickly found out that transport also included the transport of people.
Planes Can Land by Themselves!
For an outsider, it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: a plane landed by computer at the controls. But in jumbo jets, the technology is more common than you might think. One of our senior leaders recently told me about a test flight during testing of the technology He said the pilot didn't have his hands on the controls-- but like a gunslinger from a western movie-- had his hand ready to grab the control (he didn't need to, everything worked.)
Think how different the movie Airplane! would have turned out if Ted Striker could have simply set the plane to auto-land. BORING!
Some Technology that Seems New is Actually Old. Really Old.
While automatic landing has been around for awhile, the auto pilot has been around for even longer (as in before World War I). The first successful flight using an autopilot took place in 1914 when Lawrence Sperry showed it off at an air show in France. He later started a company which eventually became Honeywell.
I’m sure there will be less and less things that surprise me as my tenure grows in aerospace, but it’s easy to forget about some of the basic things that the general public doesn't know.
What are some of things about aerospace that surprise you? Let me know in the comments section below.