If you like taking an occasional stroll during a long-haul flight, as health authorities recommend, imagine walking about 80 metres down the aisle, most of the length of a football field, before you have to turn around.
Such enormously long planes are likely to be serving Australian routes in a few years. Airbus and Boeing are reportedly working on blueprints for stretch versions of two of their most popular passenger aircraft, the A350 and the B777. The reason for their efforts is an important customer – Singapore Airlines.
According to a report on CNN, Singapore Airlines is expected to back one of the designs by the end of this year and to place a major order with one or other of the plane makers. SIA operates a lot of long-haul routes.
Airbus’s A350-2000 would be nearly 78.5 metres long and seat 400 passengers. Boeing’s B777-10X would be 80.2 metres long and seat 450.
That would make the planes longer than the A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, but not as big. The A380 can still carry more people than any other plane flying – about 500 passengers is not unusual. The A380 is actually certified to carry 853 passengers (538 on the main deck and 315 on the upper). All-economy, of course.
As aviation journalist Ben Sandilands points out in his Plane Talking blog on Crikey.com.au, however, very long planes have a problem. They tend to be bouncier at the back.
Sandilands says the structural pivot point of an airliner is located somewhat forward toward the nose and over the wing. It gets “magnified or levered into greater movement the further away from it that you are seated”. More movement can mean more air sickness.
Ships are somewhat similar. If your cabin is far to the back (stern) of a ship, it tends to move up and down more than cabins located in the middle of the ship. Even on a seesaw, you move a lot more up and down if you sit at the very end. If you sit closer towards the middle (the fulcrum or pivot point) you move less.
Written by Peter Needham