Home I FAQS I GalleryI Links I About Me I Airlines





Frequently Asked Questions - Email Collections 9

1.  SARS and cabin air quality on the Boeing 777
2.  Could I take my own GPS on board the airplane?
3.  What are the signs and lights on the runway?
4.  Should you throttle back when you have a strong tail wind?
5.  Flying the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.
6.  What special considerations for trans Atlantic flight to US on the Boeing 777?
7.  What are the seat configurations and leg room on the Boeing 777?
8.  What is the effect of overweight people on a light airplane?
9.  The  Boeing 777 is a beautiful airplane to fly and maneuver in the sky and on the ground! 
10.How would the Airbus 320 holds up against turbulence?
11.What could have caused the tail strike on the Singapore Airlines Boeing 747?
12.  Could the Boeing 777 limp on one engine after one  has failed whilst crossing the Atlantic?
13.  Why it takes longer to fly in a Westerly direction?
14. Some technical questions about the Boeing 777.
15. Technical questions - Airspeeds, ETOPS and flying the MSFS  2002.
16.  What can cause the increased noise level on the Boeing 777?

1.  SARS and cabin air quality on the Boeing 777

Dear Captain Kay,

Your website is an interesting one, you have, as a matter of fact, answered a lot of my
queries. The deadly virus, SARS, is spreading out seriously in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Canada and Vietnam.  This bring the tourist business into a very critical situation, not only hotel occupancy reduces substantially but many Asian airlines have to reduce their number of flights.  Both businessmen and tourist passenger stopped flying ! Some people said if you need to fly, you have to choose Boeing 777 because they are continuously using the outside air during flying time.  Therefore, the infected possibility should be much lower.  Is it true?


Hi Ivan,

I wish I had been paid to endorse their product, the Boeing 777 :-)!  Anyway, most of the latest Commercial airplanes are mindful of complaints about the quality of cabin air.   As I am more familiar with Boeing airplanes, I would discuss this topic with a little more

The subject of cabin air quality, in view of the SARS epidemic, has been of great interest to many passengers. It is not exactly true to say that the Boeing 777 continuously uses the outside air during the cruise.  This is because outside air, say at 35,000 feet, is very dry.  It would reduce the relative humidity inside the cabin further, causing more health symptoms such as dry, irritated eyes and dry or stuffy nose. This would make one even more susceptible to infection.

On the Boeing 777, re-circulation fans are used to augment the airflow in the cabin. It provides a mixture of about 50 percent outside air and 50 percent re-circulated air; a balance has been achieved to maintain a high level of cabin air quality.  For your
information, in-flight cabin air is of a better quality than air in the average office building or shopping complexes and is changed completely in a very short period of time (between 2 to 3 minutes).

The Boeing 777 cabin design provides a ventilation rate of 13 to 20 cubic feet per minute of air per passenger. The 50 % cabin air is highly filtered re-circulated air where viruses and bacteria are removed. The filtration systems used are High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA-type), similar to that used in hospital operating rooms.

I hope you can draw a conclusion from the facts above.


Capt Kay.

2.  Could I take my own GPS on board the airplane?

Dear Captain,

It would be a real pleasure if the airlines would have a display of the current latitude and longitude in the cabin, and pass out maps for passengers to follow the flight, especially on those long flights across the ocean. You know, this is more than that stupid airplane icon moving like a snail over the TV screen!  Is there some reason they don't?  Could I take my own GPS on board?

Enjoy your site a lot.

Thank you,

James Walker

Hi James,

I wish I own an Airline and I would make all my customers happy:-)  However,
your suggestion looks reasonable.

Now, lets see the practicality of it.   I think, latitude and longitudes can be inserted into the Air show quite easily with some changes of the software.  I suppose the manufacturer of the Air Show felt that such additional information may clutter the screen and it would be of very little use to passengers other than a few like you. Secondly, most Airlines have an In-Flight Magazine with maps and routes on them.   Perhaps you could have used them to check your position.  I know the GPS gives you a very accurate position of your current location and if you are familiar with this navigation system, it will give you more pleasure about where exactly you are.  Personally, I feel most passengers are quite happy with this airplane icon in the TV screen, notwithstanding its snail speed!  Remember, five to ten years ago, you have to make do without them!

I am not very sure whether you could take your own GPS on board.  Depending on the size of the GPS, you have to check it out with the boarding staff. You may have to remove the batteries to be on the safe side.  I know of a watch where the GPS is incorporated in it and I don't see any problem if you do have one of them.


Capt Kay.

3.   What are the signs and lights on the runway?


Your website is pretty cool. I have been wondering what do all those signs and lights mean on the runways and taxiways.  What does "cross check" mean?

Finally, someone to answer all my curiosities!


Hi Mickey,

You are asking questions that are generally difficult to answer specifically because there are so many signs and lights on the runways and taxiways.   I have already answered a question on why they refer to touch down markings on runway as 'piano keys'  in my previous FAQs.

However, I will cover some common runways lights. After landing, there are signs which can indicate to the pilots where and what taxiways he has been instructed to proceed to and park his airplane.  He has to follow the center line lights of the taxiway which is green in color.  The taxiway way edge light is blue and the runway edge light is white.  Using these lights in poor visibility, he can easily distinguish them (Now you know why pilots must not be color blind!) . If there are red lights across the taxiways, he must not proceed beyond the lines.  As the pilot taxis the aircraft to the parking bay, the name of the parking slot is written at the guide line as well as the parking board.  The critical part of parking is to stop exactly where he can position is such a way that the airplane's doors are exactly in front of the aerobridge entrances.  Every airplane is different in length and so the stopping distance varies.   So the pilot has to maneuver the plane according to the lights and signs in front of him.

These are some examples of the signs and lights on the runways and taxiways for the pilots to follow.

'Cross check' means to check again by the other pilot to ensure that an action has been carried out.


Capt Kay.

4.  Should you throttle back when you have a strong tail wind?

Dear Capt Kay,

Firstly may I congratulate you on a very informative site. It has certainly helped me cross the Atlantic without too many concerns over the past 2 years.

My question is this. This March, we traveled from Heathrow to San Francisco (SFO) with United on a Boeing 777. We arrived at SFO some 1hr 30mins early. During the flight, the details about altitude and ground speed were displayed on the seat back monitors. During one section of the flight we were traveling at over 680mph!! This, I would imagine ,was due to an indicated tail wind of 120mph.

Is it normal for a Captain to allow the plane to reach such speeds? At what point would he 'throttle back'? If the tail wind was even faster than 120 mph, would the plane be allowed to
continue to accelerate?

Thank you once again, keep up the good work.


Dan Coote
London, England

Hi Dan,

You are right.  You have a very strong tail wind.  A tail wind is a bonus and it is harmless to a plane in a cruise unless it is landing!  The stronger, the better because it saves time and fuel!  The Captain will not throttle back and he is very happy to have that extra speed!

A tail wind is analogous to you blowing at a drifting feather in the air. The stronger you blow, the further the feather will go.


Capt Kay.

5.  Flying the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.

Dear Capt Kay,
I am KH Koh from Singapore. I am not a pilot but I fly the Boeing 777 on Microsoft's Flight Simulator.
I have a question regarding the glide path during approach using autopilot on the Boeing 777.   If I am not mistaken, the pilot can set the run way frequency during approach and have the autopilot on to align the aircraft with the runway center line automatically.  My question is, does the autopilot take care of the approach speed and altitude automatically when coming nearer to the airport runway?  Or, these have to be set manually depending on the distance of the aircraft to the airport?  For example, if the aircraft is 20 nm away from the airport, the targeted altitude is 10,000 ft and speed say 250 KIAS, at 15 nm, the targeted altitude is 7,500ft and speed is 220 KIAS and so on.  Does the pilot need to change these data manually while approaching the airport even though the aircraft is flown by the autopilot?  If these are all automatically changed, what do you input to the aircraft computer so that the autopilot will know what to do?
Would you please advise?
Thank you very much.
Best regards,
KH Koh
Hi Koh,
The pilot must set the ILS frequency for the Runway before he flies the autopilot approach.  The autopilot will fly the approach accurately in terms of the landing profile but the pilot would have to adjust the speeds for each flaps setting, reducing progressively until the landing flaps (30) is selected.  So the speeds must be manually selected by the pilot until the final landing speed at about 1000 feet above ground level.  This is the real scenario but I am not sure how your Microsoft Flight Simulator works as I have not flown one.

Capt Kay

6.  What special considerations for trans Atlantic flight to US on the Boeing 777?


First of all, may I thank you for a wonderful website that educates people like me that are slightly fearful of flying.

I live in the UK and on Sunday I make my first trans Atlantic flight to the US (Raleigh-Durham airport.)

In view of the flying regulations that state airplanes should be within 2 hours of an airport in the event of an emergency, how could this be possible when flying over the Atlantic? What special considerations need to be given when making such a flight. I am flying on the American Airlines Boeing 777.

Philip Hayes.

Hi Phillip,

It is no big deal.   There are many airports within 2 hours  from any point on your route to the US.   In fact, I have just flown across the Atlantic from New York on a Boeing 777.  Don't worry.   Read my topic on ETOPS.


Capt Kay.

7.  What are the seat configurations and leg room on the Boeing 777?


We are about to go to San Francisco on a Boeing 777 and wondered if you could inform us of the seat configurations and leg room on the airplane.

Many thanks,

Denise and Les Ritson


The general seat configurations are 2-5-2 in the coach class, 2-3-2 in business and 2-2 in first class.

The legroom varies from Airlines to Airlines, from airplane to airplane and even from seat to seat on the same airplane.  They range from 31 to 34 inches in the coach or economy section.   On American Airlines Boeing 777 planes crossing the Atlantic, most of the cabin seat have 34 inches of legroom but the seat in the middle cabin have only 33 inches. However, British Airways and Continental have a leg room of 31 inches. Delta,  31-33 inches and United Airlines with 31-32 inches.

According to Consumer Reports, American Airlines Boeing 777 scores best in terms
of legroom comfort.


Capt Kay.

8.  What is the effect of overweight people on a light airplane?

Greetings Capt Kay,

Local media spot on a topic that overweight passengers caused light aircraft to crash.  I figure that the manufacturers (Cessna etc...) design airplanes for very big people as well as small.  What is your opinion?  

Darvin G McBrayer, 

Hi Darvin,

When the media mentioned about 'overweight people' ... did they define what they meant by overweight?  A light aircraft is designed for a certain weight and so the manufacturers have to work out the average weight of 180 lbs for each normal passenger.  It does not cater for 'very big' people.
If a Cessna is occupied by 4 overweight passengers, it would certainly affect the safe performance of the airplane.


Capt Kay

9.  The  Boeing 777 is a beautiful airplane to fly and maneuver in the sky and on the ground! 

Dear Sir,

I am a UK based Boeing 777 Co-pilot for United Airlines, mainly flying from Frankfurt to San Francisco and Los Angeles. I thought your site is very fact-based and tends to answer most of the questions that I answer on a day to day basis. Sadly now, the crew cannot do cockpit tours anymore.

I have been a Boeing 737 captain in the past, mainly traveling the UK to Spain and Greece routes, but wanted the prestige of trans Atlantic flights. I was offered a Boeing 757 captaincy with a UK based airline as I was trained on Boeing 757 but I wanted to move upwards. I must admit it was the best move of my life. The Boeing 777 is a beautiful airplane to fly and maneuver in both the sky and on the ground.

My main goal is the captaincy of a Boeing 747.  United Airlines still have a few but if I ended my career as a Captain of a Boeing 777, I would not be disappointed.

Excellent site, I can get all my questions answered now.

Steve Hughes

Hi Steve,

It is nice to meet another fellow Boeing 777 driver!  Hope you would finally end up on the B747! I welcome suggestions on improving my site but don't seem to have much time to get very involved.

Have a nice day!


Capt Kay.

10.   How would the Airbus 320 holds up against turbulence?


I am scheduled to fly from Philadelphia to Aruba tomorrow morning on a Airbus 320. Can you tell me how this particular aircraft holds up against turbulence as compared to the larger airplanes? I am very apprehensive as there appears to be a lot of bad weather in the South.

Thank you for your time.


Hi Tom,
The Airbus 320 is a pretty good airplane to fly in and against any turbulences but do read up on all the FAQs on turbulences in my Site. 
Have a pleasant flight to Aruba!
Capt Kay.

11.  What could have caused the tail strike on the Singapore Airlines Boeing 747?

Hi Capt Kay,

A Singapore Airline jumbo recently hit and dragged its fuselage on the tarmac causing extensive damage to the aircraft while taking off at Auckland airport.

How did that happen?

Vaness Williams

Hi Vaness,

I don't want to speculate as to what exactly caused the tail strike as it would prejudice the ongoing investigation.   However, I would like to discuss tail strike very briefly.

Tail strikes on the Boeing 747 are not unique because there is check list for 'Tail Strike on Takeoff' provided in all the airplanes.   So the manufacturer expect an incident of such a nature is possible.  What can cause the tail to strike?  The most likely cause is probably a C of G (Center of Gravity) too near to the edge of the envelope.  Alternatively, the actual weight and the figures on the load sheet do not tally. It has happened before. There was a mistake on the actual weight of the load at the back and the dispatcher was careless about it. Of course, is some planes, if the figures are incorrect, an advisory warning, 'Stabilizer Green Band' would come on.

A takeoff is executed manually by the pilot by rotating the control column to a certain pitch.  A tail strike can happen if an inexperienced pilot (usually a pilot under training) over rotated (pull back the stick too fast and too much!) with a C of G close to the rear at the incorrect lift off speed!


Capt Kay.

12. Could the Boeing 777 limp on one engine after one  has failed whilst crossing the Atlantic?

Dear Capt Kay,
I have a question pertaining to the Boeing 777.  I am preparing for a flight from DFW to Frankfurt, Germany and was wondering about engine failure on the Boeing 777.  On your website, you state that the plane is designed to fly three hours on one engine (provided you attained sufficient altitude and speed beforehand).  But what about a long flight like my upcoming one over ocean?  Could the Boeing 777 limp into an airport if one of the engines failed crossing the Atlantic?  
Wayne Simmons


Hi Wayne,
Your flight from DFW to Frankfurt will satisfy the ETOPS (please read this topic in my FAQS) requirements otherwise it would not be permitted to operate the route over the Atlantic Ocean.  Depending on which Airline you are flying with, a 180 minutes ETOPS covers a lot of routes over the oceans.  I fly over the Atlantic quite regularly and one of the possible diversions I used to rely on in the Atlantic is Larges Airport in the Azores.  It is only less than 120 minutes from my usual route across to Europe.
If it makes you feel any better, just last month, a United Airlines Boeing 777 from Auckland to San Francisco shut down one of its engines due to a mechanical problem and flew for 192 minutes on single engine to land safely at Kona Airport in the Hawaiian Islands.  It exceeded the 180 minutes ETOPS limits by 12 minutes because of strong headwind.  According to Boeing, this is a record for a passenger plane limping on one engine!
Capt Kay.

13.  Why it takes longer to fly in a Westerly direction?

Dear Captain,
I am flying on a British Airways Boeing 777 trans Atlantic from London next month. I am usually a very good flyer and I want to become a pilot. 

Last year  I went on an American Airlines Boeing 767 to America, and I took a panic attack during take-off roll. Through out the whole flight I was a nervous wreck, and I cant explain it! This April I flew to Malaga on a Boeing 737-300 and I took a major panic attack as we walked out to the aircraft and had to be forced on by my dad :-(

Both of these flights went well with the bit of turbulence as usual. Weeks before both of these flights I couldn't wait to get on the planes and I am feeling the same after reading your site. (Well done, BTW, great Site) This time I am flying with my cousin who has never been near a plane before, and my Aunt and Uncle. I have been told that if I panicked before I got on the plane I won't be getting on it but I really wanted to go! I don't want to upset my cousin!
Please help!
Will the British Airways flights have games on board or just films?? Also, the flight there is 9hrs 15 minutes and back it is 8 hrs 35? I can't explain it, please help as well!
Please reply before mid-June,
Thanks  a lot in advance,
John Wales

Hi John,
I believe British Airways Boeing 777 has in flight entertainment on every seats with choice of movies and all types of games to keep you occupied throughout your flight.
The reason why it takes 9 hours 15 minutes to US is because of the strong prevailing Westerly wind that blows against the aircraft.  However, on your way back the Westerly wind is an advantage because it makes the plane fly faster, hence 8 hours and 35 minutes.  The wind is now blowing at the back, just like someone pushing your bicycle as you are cycling forward!
Capt Kay.

14.   Some technical questions about the Boeing 777.

Hi Captain,

I have just finished DCAT exam. I will know my result by next week. Guess what? I have started my flying lesson 2 days ago and will continue for another one month (no ground school). At the Flying Academy, they train us on the Piper Warrior PA-28.

I have got some question for you. In the Boeing 777, what is the maximum IAS to extend the flaps? At what IAS do you rotate when taking off, and what is the maximum IAS when the aircraft touches down?

In the Piper aircraft, there are 0, 10, 25 and 40 degrees flap, how about the Boeing 777?  Is it necessary to trim when flying nose heavy or tail heavy (as the aircraft flight control  is based on 'fly-by-wire')? 

Now that I have started flying, I have thousands of question for you, but that's all for the time

Wish me luck!


Hi Fariz,

I don't think I have the time to answer all your technical questions on the Boeing 777 because I intend to restrict my Website, whenever possible, to interesting Air Travel questions only.   If I start entertaining these questions, it will never end.   Wait until you are on the Boeing 777 in the future and concentrate on your Piper Warrior now. Many others have asked me the same type of questions which are found in the Airplane Operating Manual - thousands of them as you have said!

Just not to disappoint you this time.  The Boeing 777 lift off speed varies, and it depends on the weight of the airplane and the flap settings, can't give you a precise figure - around 110 to 120 knots.  Lands between 125 to 150 knots.  Maximum flap extension speed is 250 knots. Flaps varies from 1, 5, 15, 20, 25 and 30. It has an auto trim, so no manual trimming is  required.


Capt Kay.

15. Technical questions - Airspeeds, ETOPS and flying the MSFS  2002.

Hi Captain Kay,

With reference to the question on the CAS and Mach,  I am not again satisfied with it.
I referred to some documents and I found the answer.

The reason is that for a target CAS the TAS increases as you fly higher.
If the target CAS is 300 knots at MSL, then the TAs is also 300 knots.
As you fly higher the TAS would increase for same CAS. Also,  as you fly higher
the Mach would decrease.

So for a target CAS of 300 knots, you would be flying super sonic if you fly at extreme
high altitudes.

So for a given target, CAS equivalent and Mach equivalent of TAS at a given altitude is same. This is called as crossover altitude. Up to this, they fly at CAS and after that they fly at Mach number.

This happens to be 31000 ft in your case.

I have further questions for you:-

1) Is the ETOPS Rules applicable to BRGA aircrafts? I see a lot of aircrafts like the Learjet, Canadair, etc which can fly non stop from London to NewYork. They are also twin jets. Do they also have to abide by the ETOPS Rules?

2) Do you have an ETOPS Chart, plotted for a particular route with the diversion time arcs from designated enroute alternates? I heard that every ETOPS pilot needs to carry that
for better monitoring. Could you give that and explain?

3) B777 is cleared for 180 Minutes ETOPS. So it can fly safely in single engine for 3 hours and land. Is this tested practically - for example, failing an engine and analyze whether it runs for 3 hours or more in air?

4) Have you ever flown a Boeing 777 in Single Engine? Please share your experiences?

5) I am  trying to make a perfect landing using MSFS 2002. I perfectly capture the localizer and Glide Slope and maintain perfect speed. But just before landing, at,  say 7-10 seconds before touch down, I see that the GS either move up or down. I think this happens when I flare the aircraft. I am never able to touch on markings nor keep GS at dead center. I have seen that some aircrafts like the B777 and B767 flare a lot and make a smooth touch down on the markings. Even the smoke appears to be very minimal.
 Do you keep the GS exactly at the Center at the time of touch down? Please explain the key for a nice landing... the LAST 10 seconds!

Thanks and Warm regards
Srihari J

Hi Srihari,

Your previous question was, when CAS and Mach number are indicated in flight in the Boeing 777?  The answer was when it crosses 31,000 feet. You have already researched the technical answers yourself regarding the speed relationship.   

1.   I believe all twin engine jets have to abide by ETOPs rules.

2.   Yes, there are ETOPS and Enroute Alternate charts in all the Boeing 777's.  Please read the details yourself as they are too lengthy for me to explain.

3.   Of course, the180 minutes on single engine are tested by the engine manufacturers during the development stages otherwise it would not be certified by the relevant authorities to be used in passenger airplanes.

4.   I have not flown on the Boeing 777 on single engine except in the simulator.

5.   Flying a MSFS 2002 Simulator and the real airplane is not the same! I have mentioned in many FAQs that these MSFS simulator are good  procedural trainers but the feel is totally different.  You never manually fly a Boeing 777 ON THE INSTRUMENTS until touchdown!  It would be too dangerous!  As a general rule, most pilots fly on the ILS up to 200 feet  above ground level on a Category 1 ILS  and then fly visual below this height with the GS as a reference, but NEVER up to touch down, unless he is doing an Autoland.  In an autoland, the landing is executed by the computer. For non-autoland, he must look out and land the airplane physically (without the help of the autopilot) below 200 feet.   In the case of the MSFS, you got no choice but to fly the airplane to touchdown because there is no visual guidance outside.  I have not flown a MSFS 2002  simulator and I cannot give you any guidance on how to fly it.


Capt Kay.

Hi Captain Kay,

Regarding 2nd question, I can read it but I do not have any chart. If you could send or upload one of the charts which u have used, that would be great.

Regarding the 4th question, I was pointing to MSFS but it was with reference to  Boeing 777 only.

As you have said,  you fly manually after 200 ft above ground level (agl). I have seen many videos where they make the full final approach manually, say from the point they capture LOC and GS.

You have LOC and GS so you can fly manually up to the decision height. After 200 agl, how do you manage to land at the dead center of the runway touchdown markings?

What is the secret to LAND exactly on the markings,  even though you cannot see it?
Please let me know.

Thanks and warm regards,
Srihari J

Hi Srihari,

Sorry, I am unable to provide you the ETOPS charts.

It is true the ILS can be flown manually from the time the GS and LOC is
captured on instrument.  If an airfield is approved for a Category 1 ILS, you can legally fly to 200 feet agl only.   Thereafter, you must look out and fly visually, NO MORE INSTRUMENT FLYING.  If you can't see the Runway, you must go around! You CANNOT fly the GS and LOC on instrument until touch down as you would do in a MSFS simulator in your PC.   I hope you understand this.  If you are doing an Auto land approach, then it is a different story.  The Autopilot, with the help the computers, could fly the airplane until touchdown safely, but not human beings in real life!


Capt Kay.

16.  What can cause the increased noise level on the Boeing 777?


Every time I fly on the Boeing 777-200ER, there is a noise (TIK TIK, TIK, TIK) 5 minutes before it lands (like a very old bus :) Further, the end of the wings move up and down a lot.  I didn't notice that in the A340-200.Sometimes the Boeing 777 fly very quietly and some very noisily. Why?  Do the total weight play part in that!

Kind regards,

Hi Sonique,

The noise from the airplane can come from many sources.  They could come from the vibrations and the whirring sounds during the retraction of the landing gears.  Then there is the slamming sounds from the loose articles in the galley caused by the movement of the modules during take off or the reduction of power after airborne to comply with the noise abatement procedures in certain airports.  The air-conditioning noise may change to cater for the cooling or heating needs. 

The Tik, Tik, Tik sound seems to come from the operation of the landing flaps five minutes prior to landing.   All these noise are normal and are nothing to worry about.  Any abnormal noise would be picked up by the Flight Attendants and they would in turn notify the Captain.  If you sat near to the engines, the noise level is usually higher than elsewhere.

The little flexing of the wings is normal.  For your information, during a trial in the development stages of the Boeing 747, the wings were stressed and bent as much as  22 feet before it gave way! You observed the wing tip flex a lot because it is more obvious on the Boeing 777 as it has no winglets as compared to an A340.  

The total weight of the airplane does not play any major part in the noise of the airplane, except during take off, more power are required and that may contribute to the noise level.


Capt Kay

Is this information sufficient for your knowledge?    


Thank you for visiting  AllFlySafe.com


Click here for more in Resources or Links.




Copyright : 2003 Capt Kay

Please refer to my Disclaimer & Privacy Policy


Home I FAQS I GalleryI Links I About Me I Airlines