Propeller Confessions

    Rahul Desai

    Ever tried locating your house from an airplane 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/recognize 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 is '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, and 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 the 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 has 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% - takes 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 in 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 a 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 a 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 publicize 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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