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January 25, 2014 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever wondered how to turn on a Boeing 737? (SLYT)
posted by theodolite (56 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's no ignition lock.. anyone want to go out for a joyride?
posted by miyabo at 12:21 PM on January 25


If you want to know what is being done in the FPP video, Boeing 737 -- From Cold and Dark to Ready for Taxiing goes step by step and explains everything. So if you ever need to steal a 737...
posted by zsazsa at 12:21 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


I'd like to video this with an infinite number of monkeys.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:22 PM on January 25


Have you ever wondered how to turn on a Boeing 737?

Whisper sweet, sweet things into its ear?
posted by mazola at 12:22 PM on January 25 [28 favorites]


I want one! mathowie, can we get one, please? We promise to take good care of it!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:24 PM on January 25


Compare to "How to boot a Steam Locomotive", from MeFi's own train expert pjern.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:24 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Oh, is that all? Seems pretty intuitive.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:25 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Pretty primitive-looking avionics. That must be one of the originals from the 1960s or 1970s, not one of the planes they're still shipping.
posted by pracowity at 12:26 PM on January 25


It's not just a matter of pressing a button on a keyring fob?
posted by XMLicious at 12:28 PM on January 25


Damn, mazola beat me to it.
posted by arcticseal at 12:28 PM on January 25


Pretty primitive-looking avionics. That must be one of the originals from the 1960s or 1970s, not one of the planes they're still shipping.

it's also got the thin film of grime I normally would associate with a '94 Nissan
posted by theodolite at 12:29 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


That must be one of the originals from the 1960s or 1970s, not one of the planes they're still shipping.

I'm no expert, but those are waaaaaay more advanced than anything you'd get in the 60s or 70s. That era was still pretty strictly dial-based.

A few image searches suggest that it's at least mid-80s, if not somewhat later.
posted by Ickster at 12:53 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Nice. I want to see a ton of these, with tractors and other construction equipment, the space shuttle, a helicopter, a tank, roller coasters, a cruise ship, an aircraft carrier, etc.
posted by cashman at 1:00 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


This video, from the same uploader, has some really nice visuals (be sure to watch it in HD).

I'm about to watch the video that zsazsa linked, but it'd be really cool if this video had included quick captions explaining what's being done. As I'm sure everyone noticed, a lot of those steps are initiating self-tests of systems that you'd never want to merely assume were fully operational.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 PM on January 25


it's also got the thin film of grime I normally would associate with a '94 Nissan

Fewer Hardee's wrappers underneath the seat, though, probably.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


That must be one of the originals from the 1960s or 1970s, not one of the planes they're still shipping.

That's a 737 Classic (737-300, 737-400, or 737-500), produced 1984-1999. As far as I know there are still more of them in service than the 737 NGs.
posted by thegears at 1:07 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was just googling it up. Still pretty ancient stuff. I'd definitely rather have a computer go through that startup sequence than depend on groggy pilots to get it right.
posted by pracowity at 1:15 PM on January 25


That seems like an awful lot of things to potentially fuck up.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:21 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Heh, I goofed. It's an NG, not a Classic. Really striking how similar they are if you aren't paying attention the first time and go in with some confirmation bias. The large LCD screens on this model were previously CRTs as well as analog instruments.

Most of the other details about the flightdeck layout are really, really, similar between the two generations, probably to minimize costs in certification and retraining pilots. Plus, Boeing is definitely a believer in using tried and true technology on its airliners.
posted by thegears at 1:21 PM on January 25


I'd love to see a How To Basic of one of these.
posted by rlio at 1:22 PM on January 25


I'm encouraged that the video zsazsa linked to above prominently shows the use of checklists.

An episode of Air Crash Investigation I saw recently (about this crash) ultimately concluded (from listening to the cockpit voice recorder tapes and noticing the absence of discussion pertaining to key systems) that the root cause of the crash was the very experienced, confident, veteran crew rushing through their startup procedures in record time and not detecting an instrument initialization problem until they were at altitude. By then it was too late.

The worst mistake a pilot can make during preflight isn't entering the wrong setting or doing things in the wrong order, it's being confident enough to think they know all of the right settings/steps without consulting and working through the official checklist(s). Trying to memorize it is just too dangerous.

(It's still a good video. Great post, theodolite)
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:23 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I'm encouraged that the video zsazsa linked to above prominently shows the use of checklists.

Seconding the Baltic Aviation videos. Pranas is my favorite YouTube video host ever. Watch him nonchalantly and carefully walk through the steps to execute a ditching in an A320.
posted by kiltedtaco at 1:38 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I'd definitely rather have a computer go through that startup sequence than depend on groggy pilots to get it right.

It's worth pointing out that on modern airliners, there are computerized checks of at least the most important configuration. For example, the 737 NG will sound a warning horn when the thrust levers (throttles) are advanced for takeoff and one of the following is not correctly configured:
  1. flaps
  2. speed brakes
  3. spoilers
  4. parking brake
  5. stabilizer trim
posted by thegears at 1:38 PM on January 25


"I'm encouraged that the video zsazsa linked to above prominently shows the use of checklists."

Yeah, I think it's weird that any pilot, or anyone with any sense, would ever doubt that checklists exist for the very good reason that human beings are very fallible about things that are habitual and which also involve memory and cognition. You can run through something you've done a thousand times and never noticed you skipped a step.

Anyway, I just finished watching that video. I repeated some parts several times. BTW, I know very little about this stuff. But I find it extremely fascinating, which is a bit puzzling. It's scratching a very particular kind of nerdy itch. Probably the case for most everyone who watched the video and read this thread.

Although I'm about to fall into maw of all of those Baltic Aviation Academy videos. Next up: the A320 start up.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:38 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


My earlier comment was more stuffy than I intended; all I want is a shot at the beginning showing them taking the checklists out of the pouch or glovebox or from under the seat or wherever they are...so I know where to find them next time. Hypothetically.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:56 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


The aerospace industry has used checklists for a long time. Other industries, namely medical care, can also greatly benefit, though change is slow.
posted by defcom1 at 2:01 PM on January 25


thegears - that's it exactly. I asked a pilot friend of mine (he was qualified on 737s, 747s and 767s, although not sure all at the same time) why modern Boeings had such crap ergonomics. If you change things, then your customers have to retrain and recerttify all their pilots - at which point, they might as well go and buy your competitor's cheaper/lower running cost alternative. So you keep as much as possible the same across generations.
posted by Devonian at 2:01 PM on January 25


Still pretty ancient stuff. I'd definitely rather have a computer go through that startup sequence than depend on groggy pilots to get it right.

I'm pretty sure you also don't want to fly in a plane piloted by someone who's too groggy to get through the preflight checklist.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:03 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Ceribus, just take your tablet and some pdfs. Hypothetically.
posted by defcom1 at 2:04 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


The pilot has to do all that!? No wonder airfares are so high. What a hassle.
posted by mattoxic at 2:13 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


> It's scratching a very particular kind of nerdy itch.

I call it "process porn".
posted by benito.strauss at 2:15 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you also don't want to fly in a plane piloted by someone who's too groggy to get through the preflight checklist.

I want to fly in a pilotless plane.
posted by pracowity at 2:24 PM on January 25


Have you ever wondered how to turn on a Boeing 737?

Dim the lights, put on some music...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:54 PM on January 25


No wonder airfares are so high.

A typical 737 burns somewhere around 750 US gallons of fuel every hour of flight. It's not the pilot that's the expensive part.
posted by dhartung at 2:57 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I love how the last item on the checklist is "turn off mobile phones"
posted by Phredward at 3:07 PM on January 25


"I call it 'process porn'."

That's a great term.

In the thread you linked, your response was to maudlin who characterized this stuff as "fake knowledge". But my sense is that this isn't the case.

My explanation is self-serving, admittedly, but I think it's valid. I'm actually generally very uninterested in details as stand-alone knowledge. I suck at memorization of facts and that's mostly because I'm not interested. But I am very interested in developing intuitive understanding of things and so I will absorb a lot of information in the form of facts providing that it coheres into something greater that is meaningful to me. And insofar as certain facts are crucial pieces to that whole, I'll remember them.

So these detail-oriented things in what you call "process porn" do appeal to me because they're part of a process. I don't care very much for any particular detail, but, for example, I watched several times some parts of the BAA 737 video in order to be clear on what he was actually doing and how that fit into the whole thing. In fact, I had a compulsion (which I resisted) to write down the larger units of the procedure. He doesn't spell it out, but for example there's a big portion that's all about moving from the ground power to the auxiliary power (and then later to the engine power). Generally, there's a few big systems that are being brought online roughly in parallel, partly because they're interdependent. Basically, instrumentation and the ACU, navigation, engines, engine electrical and air, hydraulics, and testing the failure modes and indication of these.

We're learning about the aircraft, its systems, and its engineering as well as getting some insight into what it means to operate it. The discrete parts of it aren't disconnected and meaningless knowledge, and the larger stuff I just mentioned isn't meaningless and irrelevant, either. It's part of understanding the world we live in. It's not fake knowledge or useless knowledge.

And while I like the appellation of "porn" insofar as it describes the powerful attraction it has for some of us, I don't like it insofar as it implies that it's phony and substitutes for the real thing. Maybe it is for some people — in the way that I've noticed is the case for some people who read a lot of non-fiction but who never seem to retain any of what they've read. But I think some of us retain this stuff; for me it's not fleeting. Maybe it's because I'm not very passive about it, I actively think about this kind of stuff quite a bit. I try to make sense of it, as I just described. Maybe other people are more passive? I sometimes think that's true of people who watch a lot of documentaries, especially nature documentaries, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:19 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Ivan, I use "X porn" in a different way. For example, shows like How It's Made are factory porn and things like the Pepin video from yesterday are cooking porn, as far as I'm concerned. Not because it's phony or a substitute, but because it's a deeply, deeply specialized bit of media that scratches a particular itch I have. It's not to everyone's taste, but if you're into it, you're really into it, like, well, niche porn.
posted by Punkey at 3:31 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Which, hey, is what you said. :D I blame the soothing voice of Pranas.
posted by Punkey at 3:34 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


SEEMS LIKE A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT TO ME. The perfect storm of "vote for me and I guarantee jobs" and button resin lobbyists in Washington and Aircraft Instrument Panel Scientists wanting to make their vocations seems more complicated than they really are. End result? Thousands of jobs at the toggle-making factory, eventually offshored!
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:49 PM on January 25


I gotta watch this a few more times though because those clicks are really satisfying.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:50 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


man i get an anxiety attack watching 30 seconds of that
posted by angrycat at 4:01 PM on January 25


Запуск Ту-154 RA85535

posted by hat_eater at 4:09 PM on January 25


A typical 737 burns somewhere around 750 US gallons of fuel every hour of flight. It's not the pilot that's the expensive part.

So that's like 5 gallons per passenger per hour. A gallon of jet fuel costs like 5 or 6 dollars, so we're talking a total of maybe $30/passenger/hour.

So I should be able to fly coast-to-cost for about $150, right?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:22 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this. Looks expensive these days, but I expect you can find a copy elsewhere.

http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Boeing-747-400-Simulator-Checkride/dp/093628305X
posted by mikelieman at 4:27 PM on January 25


It's not the pilot that's the expensive part.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:45 PM on January 25


So that's like 5 gallons per passenger per hour. A gallon of jet fuel costs like 5 or 6 dollars, so we're talking a total of maybe $30/passenger/hour.

So I should be able to fly coast-to-cost for about $150, right?


You can fly coast to coast for about $150. I found tickets from New York to LA round trip in March for $318.
posted by Green With You at 5:04 PM on January 25


I noticed they turned their APU off before taxiing. Is that standard procedure? It seems like it might be safer to leave the APU on until the aircraft has reached some safe altitude (perhaps 10,000') to provide electrical, control, and re-start power in case of loss of power in both main engines (?).
posted by Juffo-Wup at 5:15 PM on January 25


I suspect that, if you lose power to both engines under that sort of altitude, you're fucked no matter what back-up systems you have, short of a parachute.
posted by dg at 5:35 PM on January 25


I noticed they turned their APU off before taxiing. Is that standard procedure? It seems like it might be safer to leave the APU on until the aircraft has reached some safe altitude (perhaps 10,000') to provide electrical, control, and re-start power in case of loss of power in both main engines (?).

Dual-engine failures that are recoverable (i.e. where the engines can be got going again) are extremely rare in transport-class turbine aircraft. Recoverable dual-engine failures that have both engines fail at the same time are even rarer; if you lose one engine you'll start the APU at that point anyway.

On preview: I suspect that, if you lose power to both engines under that sort of altitude, you're fucked no matter what back-up systems you have, short of a parachute.

At really low altitude, yes. But at even a few thousand feet you have sufficient glide time to at least attempt a dead-stick landing, which is generally survivable.
posted by thegears at 5:39 PM on January 25


God this is addictive.

30 minutes of preflight checks on a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter.

Powering up twin 2k HP marine diesels on an Antwerp tugboat.

Starting up a Lancaster bomber.
posted by cromagnon at 6:30 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


As a very frequent flyer, who occasionally is prone to anxiety, I like watching these kinds of videos (and Air Crash Investigations et al) as I find more knowledge reassuring, not in the sense of "I could do that" but I like to know that there are so many checks and redundancies.
posted by wingless_angel at 12:35 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


After watching this, I took away two things:
1. This is very similar to what happens when my kids sit in the front seat of my car.
2. There is a solid chance that if my kids made it to the cockpit that the plane would be moving shortly thereafter.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:04 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


> What a hassle.

Only if you ignore that whole "almost always eliminates fatal fuckups". But hey...some people like shortcuts.
posted by kjs3 at 5:47 PM on January 26


And for a (much!) more detailed description: What do all the controls in an airplane cockpit do?
posted by yuwtze at 7:12 PM on January 26


Seems like a whole lot of the stuff in the FPP video was related to selecting the correct frequencies for the radios and programming the flight director (aka auto pilot), not actually the part about starting the engines.

Would be nice to know where the thrust reverser switch is, otherwise how are you going to taxi away from the gate without some kind soul to push you back? Yes kids, jet fuel used to be cheap enough that the airlines quit using tugs for aircraft that had thrust reversers and could safely use them in the gate area. There were at least a few minor ground mishaps caused by planes backing into other planes during that time, but I guess having to hire less ground crew saved more money than patching up some planes cost.

Now the policy at many airlines is to only start one engine once the tug has pushed the plane into the alley and disconnected and then not start the other until the plane is within a couple of minutes of takeoff. Idling is expensive!
posted by wierdo at 12:57 PM on January 27


Oh, if you guys want more Airbus-related process porn, take a look at how to handle various faults.
posted by thegears at 9:08 AM on January 28


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