Back to Squawk list
  • 23

Ask the Pilot, a Classic Q&A

Recently in Patrick Smith's ASK THE PILOT column, a "classic" style Q&A. Topics include ATC routings, engine starts and malfunctions, pressurization problems and emergency landings.... ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Patrick Smith 2
Some of the covered questions...

Q: We were flying from San Juan to New York on a 757. While taxiing out, the plane's air conditioning malfunctioned and the cabin temperature became very hot. After several minutes of troubleshooting, the problem could not be fixed and we taxied back to the gate. The captain explained that although it was permissible to continue on with the broken AC, a whole new flight plan was required, including an altered routing that would add over 45 minutes flying time -- in turn requiring us to take on more fuel. We departed more than an hour late. I'm baffled. Why on earth would a broken air conditioner mandate a whole new flight plan and a longer routing?

Q: I was once on a flight from Chicago to Atlanta and we had to make an emergency landing Nashville due to something that made it necessary to fly only as high as 10,000 ft. Due to such a low altitude, we were told, we would burn too much gas and could not reach Atlanta nonstop. Were they telling us the truth and how serious was the situation?

Q: My mother was on a flight that couldn’t take off because an engine wouldn't start.  They were towed back to the gate and had to have the engine started with the help of an external cart of some sort.  Could you explain what causes an engine to fail to start, how the external is used, and why it’s safe to fly in this condition?

Q: I was on a Southwest flight from Chicago to Portland, Oregon. We were at 35,000 feet and the air was very choppy. The captain came on and apologized. He told us that although it was much smoother at 37,000 feet, we were "too heavy" to climb that high and would have to ride out the bumps for a while. Really? Why would another 2,000 feet make that much difference?

How do I get past flight to show the weather at the time of flight ?


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.