Indian Independence Day

If the world was a fair place, India, the world's second most populous country, should be the world's second largest economy, and the second largest by area. However, it is not. It is the seventh largest by area and the ninth by GDP.

One of the benefits of my travels, is that I got to witness countries from the privilege of my hotel room and still manage to join in on their events. Today is India's 67th Independence day, and I am spending it in New Delhi. The bus drive from the airport to our hotel took a considerably longer time, due to the strict policing of the streets and basically every route the bus took was blocked. A few turns around the block finally softened one police official enough to give in and allow us access to the route blocked for buses.

This security measure while a mild inconvenience to our crew highlighted the security procedures being followed amid tensions with pakistan. This was reflected in Manmohan Singh's speech and you can find the text of what I saw as subtitling on TV earlier today.

India a nuclear country, with nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers and a GDP of $1.87 Trillion, is far from the dreamy phoenix rising from the ashes that you see on CNN. The GDP per capita is around 1,500 USD which is around a third of that of my country of Jordan and 30 times less than that of the US. This means that while the GDP and the economy are huge, the population is even greater. 26% of Indians are still illiterate, which amounts to 287 million people, which is much better that the 88% at the start of the 67 years of Indian independence but leaves much to be desired.

Statistics also tell that India loses its 30% of its human development when inequality is factored in, Jordan for example loses 19% and sweden around 6%, so inequality is a real issue in a country that still has issues with untouchables and castes.

The country has 700 million people with no access to sanitary toilets and a railway company that allows employs people to collect human waste dropping on it's tracks. It is a far-cry from where I was blogging last week, the country that India gained independence from: the United Kingdom.

The view from my hotel doesn't reflect the facts on the ground and it takes effort to stay grounded to the facts.
View from Le Meridien New Delhi

Happy Independence day India!


Ask A Pilot - Aug 5th - Thrust Reversal

To continue our series on questions to be answered by yours truly, I have picked up a question to delve on this week.

Is there a reverse option in the airplane? I swear last time we flew I felt the airplane going backwards, or some other reiteration of the question.

I get asked something like this at least once a month.

There are two separate things at stake here.

Almost all commercial airplanes have reverse thrust, which is a function of the engine. It is one of the methods used to slow down the airplane on the runway, usually early in the landing roll when other factors limit the effectivity of the friction brakes. Therefore, pilots land at idle thrust and usually immediately after touchdown they engage the thrust reversal mechanism. You can sometimes hear a loud roar of the engines, which is the engines going in full reverse.

On jet engines, the mechanism is used to direct the airflow around the engine and back in the opposite direction. This is helpful when trying to slow down an airliner from speeds reaching 280 Km/h, to speeds that allow us to maneuver on ground. It's not always necessary, though.

This first video is a test of the reverser opening and closing on one model of engine, and the next is an older technology that used air buckets to dissipate and redirect engine energy.  You can also see the other moving parts of the wing that help slow the aircraft down. Spoilers on top of the wing and flaps and slats on the bottom. The reverser deploys around 1:45.

The Second part of the question is concerning the "pushback", aircrafts that park near terminals almost always need something to push them back and usually turn them to a favourable direction to start their trip.

Here is a sample of one such solution, a "pushback tractor" lifting and pushing back the airplane.

So, as far as I know most pushbacks are conducted using trucks and aircrafts do have reversers but for slowing down and stopping and not for pushback.

P.S. There was a time when engines were sometimes mounted on the rear of the aircraft, and high on the empennage and it was at least allowed to use reversers to pushback, however most modern airliners have wing-mounted engines which would ingest debris from the ground and damage the engine in high thrust-reversal settings.

Stay tuned for more questions answered, get in touch and ask questions through [email protected] and


Green Party of Jordan, Why Parties in Jordan cease to exist

I was reading with great interest the news about the formation of "The Green Party of Jordan," and I was really tempted to contact those in charge and sign up. However, the effectivity of parties in Jordan is usually dismissed as feeble and at best luxuria.

Let's start this post by admitting the obvious, people are partly to blame for most of the spiral decline in Jordan. There is adamant general complacency that lets people look at the situation from afar without ever thinking how they should change it.

There is a general culture that is prevalent which discourages young people from being involved in politics, there is an instilled fear of talking about public policy, even if it severely affects the people involved. Granted, this fear has fallen to record lows recently, but try to let someone sign a petition that asks the parliament to withdraw confidence from the Prime Minister, then you will realize how rampant it still is. This caused people to follow the general march to "safer" choices in a fledgling democracy, independents and people with public service backgrounds are the main components of the parliament, closely followed, or maybe even preceded by the tribal choices.   

The tribal alignment of the populace causes great mayhem in Jordan, whether in university "wars" or in public resistance to a government that has people from the "wrong regions" or not enough from the "right regions." This is also true in elections, people generally vote for someone from their tribe, region, area or even governorate.

Parties are also to blame, few -if any- of the parties have mature political programs, none of them propose budgets, or even have a decent following. With the notable exception of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), no party can amass more than a few hundreds in any of their events. The IAF which is the Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) political wing proved once and again that it can arouse the marching sentiments of a few thousands on any given friday, preferably after a prayer.

Jordanian parties are mainly one of two kinds, first there is the one-man-show institutions, created solely for the perpetuation of the ideology or popularity of a single person, usually an ex-government individual. Second comes the extension of a regional phenomena or ideology, such as the IAF being an extension of the Egyptian-started MB and supported ideologically by it, or the various reiterations of the Ba'ath Party whether supported by their counterparts in Syria or Iraq in their peaks. I personally know people who were educated in Syria or Iraq on scholarships because one of their immediate relatives was a member of the Ba'ath.

Jordanians have long doubted the fairness and transparency of elections, but polls also show that Jordanians doubt parties' motivation and usually support the party only as an extension of their support of it's leader. People also simply refuse to believe that a party can grow to such a level that it will hold the power to form a government or the higher leadership will allow them to do that.

I believe the Green Party of Jordan is a step in the right direction, environment is a very important issue, so is the need for fresh blood on the political arena. I am looking forward to talk to their leadership.

Peace, Out