What section of an airplane offers the smoothest ride?

  • I know in a bus, for instance, (well, at least on a school bus, when I traveled to out-of-town basketball games in high school) the farther back you are, the bumpier your ride tends to be. Is there a similar situation when a vehicle is airborne?

    For the quietest ride, you clearly want to sit away from the engines. But I'm curious if there is a part of the airplane that offers the smoothest ride. That is, most free from vibrations during flight, or during take-off and landing.

    I imagine the answer may be different for aircraft that have their engines mounted on the tail versus those with the engines mounted on the wings. And maybe other factors play into the equation as well.

    On the passenger buses where the front wheel is (MCI/Prevost/VanHool) slightly behind the driver the ride is just as bumpy. :)

  • Doc

    Doc Correct answer

    9 years ago

    It varies a little depending on the type of plane, but in general during flight over the wings, or slightly forward of the wings gives the least amount of movement - especially for planes where the engines are mounted on the wings (rather than on/near the tail).

    Take-off/landing is a little different. For take-off there's not a lot of difference - the nose of the plane leaves the ground first so there's normally a sharper movement at the front as that occurs, but the front is also off the ground earlier so potentially less bumpy for a short period of time.

    For landing, the intention is for the rear wheels to hit the ground first, followed by the nose wheels. Presuming that happens, the front is much more smooth, and feels less of the bounce as the plane initially hits the ground. In a bad landing the nose wheel can hit the ground around the same time as the other wheels, which causes a shock at the front of the plane worse than what you'd normally feel at the back - but that's pretty rare.

    Of course, the other way to answer the question is that the "smoothest" ride is in whichever part of the plane First Class is - if only because the seats are more comfortable (and the alcohol is free!) so you won't feel the bumps as much as in economy.

    Moreover, the airline likely positioned the First Class and Business seats where they are because they believed it was inherently the most comfortable section.

    I think the first class section is usually placed near the front of the air plane so that FC passengers can be the first to board and get off. Perhaps to be closer to restrooms and the flight attendant station, too.

    that's indeed the real reason, and of course it's easier to have the cabin split once than have 2 economy cabins separated by a business class cabin (especially on smaller aircraft where there's not enough crew, toilets, and pantries to serve 3 cabin sections). It's logistics, the comfort differences due to ride roughness are small enough as to be irrelevant.

    I would add that the window seats experience more vertical motion when a wide-body airplane banks.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM