Whether you are a frequent flier or take to the skies less often, we rarely give a second thought to the aeroplane in which we travel. Next time you board, take a closer look at your surroundings – these interesting facts about aircraft and the airlines which operate them will open your eyes to what’s hidden in plain sight.

1. Why do so many airlines use blue in their livery?

The bold colours of low-cost airlines like easyJet and Ryanair might distract us, but in fact, many of our favourite airlines ditch the orange, lime green and yellow for a more muted palette of blues and greys.  It’s no accident.  Blue is a key colour choice in the corporate world, reflecting a businesslike, calm image rather than the fun indicated by bolder choices.  Customers are also less likely to react strongly to a neutral shade like blue, whereas yellow and orange provoke a love it or hate it response which is less conducive to a goal of pleasing everybody.

2. What’s the big deal over lighting?

When Boeing launched their 787 Dreamliner, they promoted their cabin lighting choices alongside more obvious features like seat pitch.  The impact of jet lag on how our bodies function is now well-documented and anyone who’s ever woken up with a start when the cabin lights blaze after a night flight will know the irritation that comes with it.  Boeing took a different approach and designed their cabin lighting to suit specific activities taking place in flight.  Warm lighting is chosen for food service, while the colour of the light created by the LEDs can be altered too.  Most clever of all, when it comes to the time to wake up, it can mimic a sunrise, enabling you to come to gradually.

3. How do you make planes less noisy?

Modern aircraft have come a long way since the deafening ride experienced during early commercial flights.  Nevertheless, the problem of how to increase sound insulation without adding fuel-consuming weight has been a thorny one.  Designers working on the Airbus 380 looked at aerodynamics and wind patterns to successfully reduce the decibels generated during flight.  Boeing’s engineers took a different approach, selecting special sound-absorbing and heat-insulating melamine resin foam to dampen noise within the cabin.

4. Where do the crew sleep on long haul routes?

where does the crew sleep

While you sleep, a skeleton crew is on hand in the cabin to deal with any needs or emergencies.  So where does everyone else disappear to?  To ensure they achieve quality sleep and come back on shift fully refreshed, wide bodied jets have a secret room.  A few steps lead down to this tiny space containing a handful of bunk beds just large enough to be comfortable.

5. What happens when you flush the plane loo?

Though James Kemper’s vacuum toilet has been around since the early Eighties, it remains the technology employed to this day. It works on three basic principles: a minimal quantity of liquid, powerful vacuum suction and a non-stick coating over the toilet pan to help get things moving.  Contrary to what you may have read, the waste water isn’t jettisoned at 30000 feet.  Instead it is stored until the plane has landed and then pumped out into a tanker.  There’s no need to be scared to look up when a plane passes overhead after all.

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