The 6 Most Fascinating Questions About Aircraft

KLM receives a lot of questions via social media. Some of these need pretty extensive research to provide an answer, especially those about our aircraft. This blog looks at the 6 most intriguing questions about aircraft, as answered by our social media agents.

1. Does an aircraft have a key?

The short answer to this is: no. An aircraft isn’t locked with a key and it certainly doesn’t need a key to start it up. The pilots simply push a button. If you’d like to know more about this, head on over to this blog.

2. How is an aircraft weighed?

Weighing takes place in seven steps:

  1. Pling!- Once every four years, an aircraft’s diary says it’s time for a weighing session.
  2. An appointment is made with the Weight & Balance team in the hangar.
  1. The aircraft is emptied completely. The kerosene is drained right down to the last drop. Then the drinking water and toilet water are removed.
  1. The Ground Engineers prepare the aircraft for weighing and make sure it really is empty and dry (rainwater can distort the measurement by adding extra weight).
  1. The Weight & Balance engineer uses a checklist to ensure that all of the required contents have been removed.
  1. The aircraft is weighed.
  1. The weight is filed.

You’ll find more about the weighing of aircraft in this blog.


3. How is an aircraft painted?

Every year, KLM paints 30 to 35 aircraft in its Painting Bay. Every aircraft is repainted once every five years. But how exactly is this done?

In layers – primer, base coat and top coat. But first all the old paint is stripped off the aircraft in a process lasting 24 hours. Once all the old paint has been removed, the three new layers are applied. Each layer takes six hours to dry.

If you’d like to see what this looks like, head on over to this blog.


4. How are stickers applied to an aircraft?

Aircraft aren’t only painted, they are also decorated with stickers, such as the KLM logo. This process is quite an art. First off, a technical drawing is made. The stickers are made of a special material that can withstand temperatures ranging from -50°C to 110°C. An extra layer of varnish is sprayed over the edges of the sticker, because the application tape is just 65 micrometres thick. And lastly, all bubbles are removed by puncturing them. Et voilà!

If you’d like to know more about the stickers on our aircraft, please read this blog.


5. Does an aircraft have a horn?

Imagine a cloud getting in the way as you’re racing along, wouldn’t it be handy if you could hit the hooter?

Strangely enough, an aircraft does have a hooter. It’s incredibly noisy. When ground engineers are working in the cockpit, they can use it to alert their colleagues working on the ground. There’s a tiny button marked “GND” on the instrument panel in the cockpit. The button is hard to find, but when pressed it sounds as if three steamboats are passing under the plane.

Click here to hear the hooter.


6. How do aircraft get their names?

Borobudur, Museum Square, Blue Kestrel – every KLM aircraft has its own name, but we are one of the few airlines that names its aircraft. And we take this matter rather seriously. We always choose a specific theme for a specific aircraft type, and the names have to be easy to pronounce. The Dutch name is always on the port side of the aircraft, and the English on the starboard side.

If you’d like to read more about the naming of our aircraft, head on over to this blog.

If you have any further questions about aircraft, please let me know.


Posted by:   Ben Kortman  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

simon ang

it’s airplane have a key ?

Elizabeth Phillips

Yes, I just love Aircraft, I work for a company who deals with the Pilatus PC9/A

Ben Kortman

Nice Elizabeth! Then you must already know the answer to all these questions ;-).


I absolutely love this post. Thanks for the morning read.

Ben Kortman

Thank you very much Ary! And you’re welcome :-)


Horn is not that loud but you can easily hear the sound while engines running on idle. it has a treble sound :)

Ben Kortman

Very true Onur!


If you get a new A330 here is a name suggestion for it ;)

Ben Kortman

A beautifull square indeed Csaba!


Entinhlenigg the world, one helpful article at a time.

Terje Hitsøy

Lovely airplanes and crew.

Ben Kortman

Thanks Terje :)

Jan Reijnders

ik heb 2 vragen:
1. vogels worden verjaagd van de start/landingsbaan door geluid. Kan een vliegtuig daarom ook niet zijn hoorn gebruiken om vogels te verjagen?

2. De ramen in vliegtuigen zijn altijd nogal klein uitgevoerd. In oude vliegtuigen zie je vierkante grote ramen. Kan dat ook weer toekomst worden? Nu kan alleen de passagier die aan het raam zit, naar buiten (lees beneden) kijken en de andere passagiers hebben die mogelijkheid niet.

Ben Kortman

Hallo Jan,

Ik ga mijn best doen je vragen zo goed mogelijk te beantwoorden.
Ik denk dat het geluid van de hoorn niet luid genoeg is om boven het geluid van startende motoren uit te komen. Verder heeft Schiphol 16 Bird Controllers in dienst die ervoor zorgen dat er zo min mogelijk vogels of andere dieren bij de landingsbanen zijn. Daarvoor gebruiken we verschillende methodes. Om te beginnen maken ze de luchthaven zo onaantrekkelijk mogelijk voor dieren. Men wil voorkomen dat dieren hier een schuilplek, nestplaats of voedselbron vinden. Het gras wordt hoog gehouden, want dat vinden vogels niet prettig, en er wordt gekeken naar de hoeveelheid kroos in de sloot.

Vogels die zich in de nabijheid van de landingsbanen bevinden worden verjaagd door onder andere distress calls: geluiden van roofdieren of soortgenoten. Overdag worden vaak seinpistolen met licht- en geluidskogels gebruikt om de vogels weg te jagen en ’s avonds laserstralen.

Wat de ramen in vliegtuigen betreft: vroeger (in de tijd voordat de straalvliegtuigen in gebruik werden genomen) waren de ramen inderdaad een stuk groter. Toen straalvliegtuigen eenmaal in gebruik werden genomen, werden de ramen kleiner om vluchten op grotere hoogtes mogelijk te maken. Glas is zwaar en relatief zwak, dus wordt het tegenwoordig zo min mogelijk gebruikt.

Beantwoord dit je vragen? :)

penelope burreci

Excellent article – love the brass band – presumably announcing
the aircraft’s arrival and departure – very clever photo. Thanks.

Fredrick Mutisya

I like the post KLM. Am aircraft Engineer from Kenya.

Ben Kortman

Thank you Frederick. You must be an aircraft enthusiast!

Mark Percival

That’s really funny that a plane has a horn :). A question. What does “arm the slides” mean? You always hear it announced just before take-off, and the captain says something else about slides on landing, but I’ve forgotten what. Thanks.

Madhava Banavar

Hi there,

How the pilots will know the direction when they are up in the sky, and also selecting the runway in big airports for landing,

Are they following same rules ever since the aviation industry started??


What about the emergency key for the cockpit door in case the electric door mechanism does not work?

richard rafiu

I always say it and I will say again. KLM believes in genuinty and very exceptional in professionalism with customer service keep it up guys I believe more ahead








i like so much fly but the airplanes in general.
my dream is when i m 18 has a aircraft pilot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *