Can an Aeroplane Stay in Air without Moving

Can an Aeroplane Stay in Air without Moving

You must have heard the phrase; it’s no rocket science; the same goes for understanding can an airplane stay in the air without moving, the term becomes ironic here as it does involve some rocket science. 

An airplane standing still in the air is a phenomenon that is theoretically possible; however, practically, it’s really rare to achieve such an ideal situation to make a plane static in the air. For a normal plane or a commercial aircraft, It involves such an idyllic state where all the acting forces on the aircraft defy each other equally and make the plane stand still in the air without almost any force acting on it in any direction. 

To achieve such a situation will be a miracle but still, we can’t deny the fact that it cant be achieved according to scientific laws. On the contrary, there are a few planes that exhibit such characteristics of staying afloat in one place in the air, but that’s attributed to their special mechanics involved in balancing the external forces. Helicopters and some military aircraft have rotors that help them stay static in the air by balancing the gravitational force. 

Can an Aeroplane Stay in Air without Moving

The awe-striking sight of a plane standing static in one place in the air is rare, but some people say they have observed it. Now let’s understand how is that possible. An airplane’s flight is made possible by invoking four important forces, which act in opposite directions to make the plane fly in the air. These forces are the thrust against the drag and lift against the gravitational force. 

Now, if the aircraft cancels out each force somewhere in the middle of the flight by acquiring equal quantity and opposite direction, then the plane can stay still as if hanging in the air without showing any motion. 

Although science does explicate the reasons attached to the phenomenon of an aircraft staying motionless in the air, achieving this ideal state, in reality, is almost impossible and not very likely to happen. No matter how hard you try, still, some forces are acting on the plane and moving it in some direction. 

Unreeling some Scientifics Facts engaged in Flying

The airplanes carry a repertoire of the complex scientific phenomenon based on which the aircraft can take off and get out of the bounds of gravity and then stay in the air, piercing through the sheet of sharp air to reach across the ends of the world. 

The fundamental forces involved in making the flight possible are the force of thrust produced by the engine’s propellers to move the airplane forward. When the aircraft moves forward with a great thrust, another force, known as the drag force, is generated and acts on the plane in the opposite direction in contrast to the thrust force. This drag force is generated by the air molecules colliding with the aircraft and rushing backward as the plane moves ahead. 

Next in the list of forces acting on the plane is the famous gravitational force pulling it downwards. This force is counteracted by the lift force produced by specially carved and designed wings of the aircraft. While flying, when air particles collide with the wing, they slam on two surfaces, the lower side of the wing and the curved upper side of it. 

Now the design is such that more surface of lower-wing is exposed to air than the upper wing, where due to its d-shaped curve, the molecules collide and move in an upward direction without exerting much force. However, the molecules colliding on the fully exposed lower side of the wing exert a lot of pressure and causes a lift force that is engaged in keeping the plane afloat in the air.

Ideal Scientific Calculations to keep the plane Still in Air

Now let’s come back to our discussion of whether a plane can stay in the air without moving at all? To make it happen, some ideal conditions dictated by science are to be achieved, which basically include making all the forces equal to zero acting on the plane. Representing it in the formula would be something like:

F (total) = 0

So, if the total force acting on the plane is zero, only then would the plane be able to stand still in the air. For this, actually, we have to make both the thrust and drag equal so that they cancel out each other;

F (Thrust) = F (Drag)

Similarly, the gravitation force should be ousted by an equal and opposite pull force on the plane, such as:

F (Gravity) = F (Pull)

If this condition is achieved, the net force acting on the aircraft is equal to none at all, and here comes the law of Newton, which states if there is no force acting on a body, it will continue its existing state of motion or of rest. 

Following this law, the plane will stay afloat in the air without moving at all as the net force on the plane is zero because all the forces have canceled each other out. However, it’s a scarce situation to be achieved. 

Planes that can Stay Still in Air

Although we can explicate some phenomenon theoretically but achieving it, in reality, is quite impossible. Rarely any commercial plane like Boeing 747 or 737 and Airbus etc., can stay still in the air without moving in any direction. It’s a rare sight. 

However, there are particular aircraft known as VTOL, vertical take-off, and landing aircraft; only these types of planes can stay in the air without moving forward or backward. These planes can even take off vertically and even land in the same way. 

Some of the aircraft which exhibit this fantastic feature is 

  • F 35 Lighting II Jet
  • Bell Boeing V 22 Osprey
  • Helicopters

Conclusion

The answer to the phenomenon can airplane stay still in the air without moving is theoretically possible but practically achieving it is pretty occasional. If the forces acting on the plane become zero, like the thrust, drag, gravity, and pull working on the aircraft cancels out each other. A commercial plane can rarely attain this situation, but still, it’s plausible. 

FAQ

How long can an airplane stay in the air?

A commercial airplane can stay in the air for about 18 to 19 hours at one stretch without refueling.

Can an airplane stand still in the air?

An airplane can only remain still in the air under one specific condition. If weight and lift, thrust and drag, cancel out each other simultaneously, which is an incredibly rare situation.

A plane must be going forward to maintain its position in the air and endure its trip. Lift is created when an aircraft’s wings accelerate the air above it. For this to happen, the wings must move through the air at high speed and collect the lift force. Therefore, if a plane stop moving forward, it will no longer produce lift, and it will be unable to maintain altitude like a helicopter using a propeller.

How can a passenger plane stand still in the air refusing the law of gravity?

If no net force is acting on an airplane, it can remain still in the air. And as per the law of Physics, an object at rest stays at rest, and an object at a motion remains at a motion if no net force is acting on them. 

However, it’s not as if there aren’t any forces at work on the airplane, either. In addition to the force created by gravity, there is also the force created by the weight of the passengers and their luggage, the collision of air molecules, and the force generated by the way an airplane’s wings push. So, if these forces are balanced and the air molecules are strong enough to push the plane upwards, encountering the gravitational force, the plane stands still in the air. 

Can a helicopter stay still in the air?

Yes, a helicopter can stand still in the air by balancing all the external forces acting on it. There are no horizontal forces, drag, or thrust because the helicopter is not traveling in either a right or left direction. When the vertical lift produced by the helicopter blade balances with gravity, there is no longer any external force acting on the helicopter, no external force acting on it, and the helicopter stays still in the air.

Can military planes hover?

Yes, military planes that are experimental crafts can hover; an example is Bell Boeing V 22 Osprey, which can hover in the air. Although there are some other military aircraft and helicopters, they can stay still in the air.

How long can a plane stay in the air without refueling?

A commercial plane can stay in the air for about 23 hours without refueling. On the other hand, a non-commercial plane can remain in the air for about 18 hours, depending on the aircraft size. If it is of a smaller size with dependable fuel capacity, it can stay in the air even longer than 18 hours.

How do airplanes stay in the air without falling?

Airplanes can stay in the air without falling if all the external forces are balanced. In case the weight and lift cancel out each other, thrust and drag cancel each other. The airplanes can stay still in the air because there will be no external force acting on them in this situation. According to the Physics law, a stationary object remains at rest, and a moving object keeps moving if no external forces are acting.

Why do planes stay still in the air?

Newton’s law states that if no external force acts on an object, it will remain stationary and continue to move. Therefore, the planes will stay in midair if all the forces balance.

Is it possible for a plane to stay in the air? 

Yes, a plane can stay in the air if there is no net force acting on it because if there is no net force, an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion keeps moving.

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