Ruth Karauri Explains Difference in Flight Duration to and From Same Destination

  • File photo of an airplane in the sky
    File photo of an airplane in the sky
    File
  • Captain Ruth Karauri debunked the difference in the flight time when planes fly to and from the same destination.

    In a series of tweets on Thursday, January 19, Karauri confirmed the contrast in flight duration explaining that it is caused by very strong winds known as jet streams.

    "Whenever flying in strong windy conditions, the flying time to and from a destination can greatly vary. For instance, outbound flights to the far East take nine hours while the return takes seven hours or less," she stated.

    Captain Ruth Karauri during an interview at Kenya Airways
    Captain Ruth Karauri during an interview at Kenya Airways
    Courtesy

    Karauri expounded that the winds can be advantageous or disadvantageous to the plane depending on the direction in which it is moving.

    "The wind will be acting as a tailwind if moving in the same direction hence pushing you to go faster, and a headwind when flying in the opposite direction thus slowing you down,"  she delved deeper.

    However, this was under the condition that the pilot was flying at the same speed to and from the same destination. The slowing down reduces speed due to the drag in the opposite direction.

    The captain added that the variation is noticeable in longer flights, those exceeding five hours, pointing out that the difference in shorter ones is about 20 minutes.

    Her explanation came after Kenyans struggled to explain the deviation in flight times with several theories coming up.

    Among them was that just like the terrain on earth, the sky also had hills and valleys with trips towards the northern hemisphere taking longer and flights from likened to rolling down the slope.

    Karauri, a renowned pilot who made headlines after landing an aeroplane at Heathrow Airport amid strong winds, took to answering frequently asked questions about flying. 

    On January 15, she explained to aviation enthusiasts why the centre of the turbine of the plane engine had a white mark. 

    In November 2021, the Boeing 787 captain gave insights into how pilots use flight paths to navigate the skies.

    An image of a stationary plane engine at an airport.
    An image of a stationary plane engine at an airport.
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