Blowing hot smoke!

April 7, 2010 at 3:05 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Some people may wonder why smoke and gas comes from the tail of an airplane when the engines are usually located under the wing? Check out the picture below which is the typical tail configuration for all commercial aircraft (including the 787).

What most people don’t know is that another “engine” actually exists inside the tail of the aircraft. However, unlike the engines that already hang out on the wing, this engine (called the auxiliary power unit or APU) actually supplies all the electrical and hydraulic power for the aircraft. Just like an engine on the wing, this APU burns jet fuel and make a very noticeable sound when running.

So next time you are at the airport and notice smoke coming from the tail of your airplane, don’t start fretting that something is wrong with the plane. Instead, know that the APU is working to provide you with interior lighting and that trusty ding from the flight attendant switch.

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