Propeller Confessions

    Rahul Desai

    Ever tried locating your house from an aeroplane approaching your ‘home’ airport? I’ve tried that. I do that. Every time. While taking off. Landing. Hovering. And fail to find anything. Every time. I can't even locate/recognise a specific area, let alone a building or a house.

    Talking in Facebook terms, 'this is on my mind right now' while on my way to Bangalore in a Propeller (as the aviation people usually address those smaller 'Commercial Carriers' from the French Company ATR - Avions de Transport Régional. For any other person, it would be that fan-like part of an aircraft that helps the plane to move forward – cutting the air.) Apparently, I didn't know much about a Propeller all this while – that being 'the only other thing on my mind'.

    With my recently improved Time Management, I was at the airport at 4:20 AM for a 6:15 AM flight (that's considered well-in-advance in Pune). All my 'advanced planning' and 'preparation' went in vain when one of my closest friends working at the airport arranged direct entry, pre-check-in, quick security check, lounge access – all of this in less than 15 mins. I had an hour and a half to observe and enjoy the recently upgraded Pune Lohegaon Airport. That's not the subject here though, but certainly a good one for a separate article. Pipelined.

    So, the Lounge coffees, sandwich and call for boarding! We walked down to the aircraft - an aircraft that looked more like an aerospace-project for a prodigy science student. There were reasons -

    • We decided to take a walk (instead of a shuttle). I didn't know that was allowed for pax.
    • 'The Sun' (didn't that sound like Jet Lee's 'The One'?) was yet to rise.
    • I realized I hadn't taken a walk at that time of the day (outside my house, of course) in a long time.

    So, we walked and my friend started spilling the beans. (It was an eye-opener. I had never come across this ‘technically well-aware' aspect of her personality.) What followed was going to be some real knowledge transfer from an aviation professional:

    • Propellers (ATRs, for us) are 62 seated while other local carriers are 175-ish. (They can, however, be designed to accommodate up to 78 seats. Impressive!)
    • Propellers are more fuel-efficient (2 tons of fuel is good enough for Pune-Bangalore fleet, compared to 4-5 tons needed for others, averaging for the same number of passengers).
    • Their ground clearance is much lesser (for obvious reasons) and that's the reason they have a mechanical arrangement - Wheel Impact Load Detectors. (Basically a hanging rod below the aircraft – near the staircase and right under the luggage area - to keep a manual/mechanical check on the overloading. Should the rod touch the ground while loading, you know you're already doomed! They're doomed! Or something really bad.)
    • It's a small carrier. Loading of luggage and passengers' boarding have to be watched very closely. Only one person can board the plane at a time.

    Maybe many of us already know that. I didn't, till about an hour and a half back – April 22, 2010 (6:05 AM). It was so enlightening; I felt the need to share. There's so much around us, we know, there's always a lot of new things to learn about. Things like -

    • Propellers (ATRs, that is) are 2x2 sitting compared to horribly congested 3x3 domestic carriers (Economy Class, of course).
    • They're slower by more than 100% - take two-plus hours to reach Bangalore (from Pune) compared to 55 mins otherwise.
    • The take-off of Propellers and its 'feel' are a different world altogether – it feels like you're sitting on the back seat of your car (I was on A1) and the car suddenly starts flying! (It's a weird new experience unless you're already used to it.)

    I know this is little too specific and too technical information to write an article about. Probably I am influenced by this book I just started reading. (I buy books from airports/rail-stations as my part of Social Responsibility. It's my way of charity.) DORK – The Incredible Adventures by Robin 'Einstein' Verges. It's diary-turned-book. We all should write diaries. Or an offline/online Blog. Personal Blog. Or whatever Blog.

    NiravKaushal – I feel you should start writing (more frequently). Pappa, Minu, KhushbuAudi – do continue writing and you can probably publicise things more.

    Remember, if your life is worth thinking about, it is worth writing about. - Robin Sharma, Who Will Cry When You Die?

    And so will I keep writing.

    This article is about Technology, Airport, Travel and written by Rahul Desai. An irregular blogger, slow-paced reader and an optimistic pro-government Indian, Rahul is an information security professional with an undying urge to write reading-worthy articles. Read all their articles.

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