Why Planes Don't Fly Over the Pacific Ocean

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Why do airlines avoid the Pacific Ocean? You might think it was a safety issue. The Pacific is the largest and deepest of the world’s oceans. If a plane encounters a problem over a seemingly endless and bottomless pond of water, the pilots are going to have a rough time finding a safe spot to set her down.

Guessing that it is a safety precaution wouldn’t be entirely wrong. When planning a route, many pilots prefer to maximize the number of airports along their path. Emergencies are incredibly rare relative to how many planes take to the skies every day. That said, it isn’t the main reason airlines tend to avoid making a straight shot east to west…

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#planes #aviation #brightside

– When planning a route, many pilots prefer to maximize the number of airports along their path.
– Excluding special circumstances such as passing through the jet streams or other meteorological concerns, the fastest route is almost always the one closest to a straight line.
– On a 2D map, making a giant rainbow to avoid the Pacific Ocean looks like a much longer route. But since the Earth is a sphere, a straight line is going to look very different in three-dimensional spaces.
– The combination of the two factors, the curvature of the Earth and its extra equatorial width, mean that curving toward the poles is a shorter distance than flying (what seems like on a map) “straight” across!
– Another reason planes will sometimes brave an oceanic voyage is to take advantage of the smoother ride. Even in clear weather, there’s much less turbulence over water than over land.
– The other primary consideration for determining flight paths are air currents, namely the jet streams. These high-altitude air currents exist near the top of the troposphere.
– There are 4 main jet streams, 2 in each hemisphere, and thanks to the Earth’s rotation, they mostly flow west to east.
– Flying with a jet stream can shave several hours off of a trip, but flying into it can slow the plane down considerably.
– It’s also worth noting the risks associated with jet streams. The biggest hazard is a kind of turbulence known as clear-air turbulence, which occurs along the edges of the streams.
– The jet stream mostly affects things tens of thousands of feet in the air, and the curvature of the Earth doesn’t really matter unless you’re traveling hundreds of miles per hour over vast distances.

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33 thoughts on “Why Planes Don't Fly Over the Pacific Ocean”

  1. Because the isn't a globe . Try using a map the the u.n. and u.s.g.s. Uses ! You will see a straight path much closer to Alaska . Why are you showing curvature of a flight on a flat map that made to represent a globe shape ? Why are there no direct flights in the southern hemisphere ? A flight from Bali made a emergency stop in alaska . The flight was going to San Francisco . This is propaganda to stop the truth from coming out . I am not saying we live on a flat map , but for dam sure it isn't a globe !

  2. Well, that’s what I thought of. Until Aug 24,2019. UA, SFO to PVG, we flow over Pacific Ocean… no where near Alaska. My friend who is a airline pilot was surprised

  3. august 2nd ey 10 Etihad airways Dreamliner Boeing 786-9 i went abu dhabi pakistan and dubai 8 hr flIght watched so many movies i was a great EXPIRIENCE LIKE IF YOU HAD A HOLIDAY SO GOOD LIKE I DID DONT FORGET SHARE YOUR HOLIDAYS

  4. Am I the only person that actually enjoyed this video?? HAHA Anyways, now to my real comment. I’ve been on the same PAL Vancouver-Manila flight more times than I can count on my hands and feet and have noticed that pilots do a combination of passing the Atlantic as well as just going straight through! I want to say that the MNL to YVR flight normally takes the straight Pacific Ocean route while the inverse flight takes the Alaska route or maybe the other way LOL I can’t remember which one was which but there were definitely different tracks. The flight when it passes a bit closer to Alaska still passes the pacific (obviously) but it doesn’t pass a direct straight line like you would maybe except it too but has the characteristic of a stretched out negative parabola wherein it seems to stick closer to Alaska and Russia. The first time I noticed the flight actually going straight across the pacific I thought it was PAL trying to avoid Russia because they had just shut down a foreign plane during that time HAHAHA

  5. Why airlines dont fly over the Pacific Ocean?

    Me right after a trip to Southeast Asia to visit family : facepalm

    Btw our plane went right over the Pacific Ocean

  6. This video is wrong!! The reason planes fly close to Alaska is because the earth sits at a 23.5 degree tilt, making this route the shortest. He fails to mention that.

  7. I love how the animator has NO IDEA about how the whole world abbreviates kilometers per hour. It must be like the US does with miles, right? After all, miles and Fahrenheit are the world's standard… RIGHT!?? 🤣

  8. Less turbulence over water? Bruh moment…. the plane trip that I went on that had the most turbulence was 95% over water… and the turbulence was bad enough that seatbelt sign didn’t come off at all for the entire 14 hour flight. And the weather was clear too.

  9. This video is a joke. The primary reason they take that route is because it's SHORTER!!! Flat projections of the earth's surface distort the apparent distance. The great circle route is often up across the north rather than straight east or west. It's still a long flight and back before 747s a typical flight to the far east was via Hawaii and Guam. I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 1971 and we flew out of Travis AFB, about 60 miles from San Francisco to Hawaii, refueled and flew directly to Okinawa from there. 18 hours of flight time total. That was in a DC-8. Later I was stationed in the Republic of the Philipines, 1975, and we flew same route to Hawaii, then to Guam, then to the RP. Newer Airliners have much greater range and can manage the great circle routes without landing for fuel and that is the reason. Check out Google Earth and see some of the great circle routes. Oh and one other point, when you are flying East to West, it's often beneficial to take a longer route to avoid the jet streams, unless your taking your SR-71. Then you just fly over them (snicker).

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