aer_tech
Guest

Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

I look at the airline's travel map, and they are never traveling in a straight line.

BRAD S
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

Various reasons.  Winds; the airway is not a straight line; change in clearance, need to move to evade weather or other aircraft, and probably more.

surajspy
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

maybe because of the latitude and longitude lines...

aerostar
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

world is round, sh=t for brains

  • Quote

billp_se
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

pilot drunk

Michael B
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

Nowadays we can often just go GPS direct which is a straight line to where you want to go (if ATC allows it). But before GPS we had to use radio navigation. Things called VORs and NDBs. These are scattered throughout the country. If you wanted to fly from the west coast to the east coast navigating by this method....you would not ever be able to plan a perfectly straight route, you would have to zig-zag a little between navigation facilities.

  • Quote

dklaas24
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

they follow the curve of the planet, they do go straight for the most part but the map itself is where the arch comes in, the difference between looking at a globe and a flat map.  lay the map over a basketball, you'll see.

  • Quote

archbish
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

Some times it is as simple as a storm is in the way or the direct path of flight is through restricted airspace.

If you have a more specific question please clarify.

jerry
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

they fly from VOR to VOR

Chris B
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

THEY DON'T TRAVEL IN STRAIGHT LINES BECAUSE THE GLOBE IS ROUND SO IF YOU TAKE A GLOBE AND MARK A LINE FROM WHERE EVER TO WHEREEVER AND TAKE THE PAPER OF THE GLOBE, YOU WILL NOTICE THAT THE LINES AERN'T STRAIGHT. THERE ARE ALSO OTHER PLANES IN THE AIR YOU KNOW SO MAYBE THATS WHAT MAKES THEM TAKE THE SAFEST AND QUICKEST ROUTE TO THE DESTINATION

thomaswh
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

Airlines travel by electronic "highways."  When travelling great
distances they use a "great circle" route.  Its actually a straight
course when plotted on a globe.  When you see the route in
print, you're seeing  a flat representation of a spherical course.
Thats why it appears curved.

  • Quote

hsupilot
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

On those Airline travel maps you are looking at I am sure the routes going North/South look like straight lines, only the East/West routes appear to curve. The issue is with the map. Your question really gets to the choices map makers have to make, the challenge all maps of the Earth have is that they are trying to represent a sphere (or an ellipsoid, the Earth actually bulges at the equator) on a flat piece of paper. Most maps are Mercator Projections which distort the northern and southern latitudes, with out seeing the travel map you are looking at I would guess that it is a Mercator Projection.

Do this experiment yourself – you’ll need a globe, a World map and a piece of string. On the globe stretch the piece of string between Seattle and Amsterdam, notice the shortest route takes you over Canada and Greenland, north of both your starting and ending point. When you do the same thing on the World map you’ll notice that your string is nearly following the lines latitude across the northern United States and the North Pacific, a much longer route.

You can then exaggerate the difference by looking at Seattle to Moscow. The direct route on the globe will take you over the artic, on the map this doesn’t even look possible.

john S
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

The maps you are looking at are printed that way for clarity, not the actual route.  Commercial aircraft travel is conducted using specific routes between ground based navigational aids.  These routes are called Victor Airways.  At the time when these airways were set up we didn't have sophisticated electronics or GPS satellite systems.  Aircraft traveled from navigation signal to navigation signal.  Flight controllers expect aircraft to be on specific routes and specific altitudes to avoid clearance problems (AKA collisions).  Aviation industry is slow to change but one day soon we will have commercial aircraft traveling direct from their departure location to their destination saving time and fuel.

DenimGuy
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

Aircraft travel via air traffic control centers.  These centers monitor both altitude and speed.  For obvious reasons, centers monitor many different types of aircraft.  Some fast jets, some slower turbo props, some slower pistons.  In order to have the aircraft avoid colliding in midair.  Centers will work traffic using the VOR's at different airports accross the country.  Control centers will tell someone flying from west coast to east to go a certain route via the VOR's.  East to west traffic will use a different route.  If you look at the US as a whole, the VOR's are a sort of highway system in the sky.  Thus, the aircraft have to fly over VOR's to stay on the highway in the sky!!!

  • Quote

laydeehe
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

no straight lines/road dividers  up there to indicate.

LOL
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

it goes by the wind

  • Quote

Ian Mac
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

They don't fly in a straight line because they fly with the latitude and longitude lines and those aren't straight. They are curved because the Earth is round.

  • Quote

Weatherm
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

most of these answers are correct i like the one with flight 1 and flight 2 and the crash this is correct but also planes can not just fly where they want to there are flight routs which MUST be followed!

Bridget F
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

I hate people that answer questions that don't know what the heck they're talking about. DenimGuy5 is an idiot and shouldn't be answering aviation questions. To clean up his mess of airplanes running into each other if two airplanes took off from different airports and flew directly at each other they wouldn't collide. First specific altitudes are to be flown for the direction of flight you are traveling. Basically if you are flying easterly you are to fly at odd thousands and westerly you are to fly at even thousands. For example if my heading is exactly 090 (east), I'm supposed to fly at an odd thousand such as 7,000 feet or FL330 (33,000 feet). This would be for IFR traffic which in addition to that each aircraft would be assigned an altitude to fly at which sometimes doesn't go along with the rule I just mentioned. If you are flying VFR you are to take the same rule but at 500 feet to the altitude you wish to fly at.

The answer to the question asked has already been answered by most everybody. When we look at a map we see a 2-dimensional representation of a 3-D globe. When you see the flight track of an airplane that is actually flying direct from one airport to another and it looks curved it's because he's following the natural curvature of the earth. If you were to warp that map into the shape of the globe it would in fact turn in to what looks like a strait line from A to B.

monkeyma
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

Why do you thing airplanes DON'T travel in a straight line?

WellTrav
Guest

Re: Why do airplanes not travel in a straight line?

The world is round and always spinning so going straight will mean they'll miss their destination.  Thus they plan their flight accordingly so as to actually arrive to their destination despite the rotation and curvature of the Earth.  Secondly if all planes traveled in a straight line, it increases the likely of a midair collision of two planes going in opposite direction. 

Flight 1 heads to Houston TX, leaving LA and going straight. 
Flight 2 heads to LA, leaving from Houston and going straight (at around the same time). 
Midway....BOOOM! 

A straight line is the shortest distance between two points...
In this case it leads to a lawsuit...

  • Quote