10 Facts About Plane Smoke

What is the white smoke that comes out of planes? What is plane smoke? Can airplanes smoke?
Aero plane smoke

A lot of people are confused about plane smoke. They think it is an indication of fire. But in reality, it is just vapor coming out of the engines of the plane. It usually occurs when the plane has taken off or is getting ready to land. This vapor is not dangerous at all. So, continue reading to know what is the white smoke that comes out of planes!

1. Why do Planes emit Smoke?

In order to have a clear flow of air into the engines, it is normal for planes to emit white smoke from their exhaust. This is because the engines need a steady flow of air in order to create the necessary thrust.

2. How does Engine Combustion condense?

The vaporization of water inside an engine combustion chamber cools the air in it. This causes water droplets to form as the vapors cool to a temperature at which they condense into a liquid. The liquid then exits the engine via an exhaust gas turbine or jet nozzle in a cloud of vapor. This is called condensation. Another example of this process is the cold glass of water forming droplets on the outside of the glass when kept in a hot environment.

3. What is the White Smoke that comes out of planes?

The white smoke that comes out of a plane is not smoke. It is called Condensation Trail and is caused by the humid air of the jet engine. It occurs where water vapor in the air condenses and freezes on some parts of the aircraft. It is a type of contrail known as a vapor trail. It consists of water vapor from the exhaustion of the jet engine. (See What Is a Sonic Boom?

4. What is Plane Smoke made of?

Plane smoke is made of water vapor that is produced by the engines. Sometimes, it contains small amounts of nitrates from the burning of fuel inside the engine.

5. What are Contrails?

The condensed trails of water vapor lead to the formation of contrails. This looks like a cloud and is produced when the engine releases exhaust gas at high altitudes under low pressure & temperature. Further, they are of different types, including Short-lived contrails, Persistent non-spreading contrails, and Persistent spreading contrails. Normal contrails are safe and have pure water as their prime constituent. (See also How Does Hovercraft Work?)

6. What is a Black Plane Smoke Trail?

Incomplete combustion causes the smoke to change its color since the engine does not burn the fuel completely. In this case, the excess fuel is released through the exhaust that leaves behind a black smoke trail.

7. Why do Airplanes use Kerosene as Fuel?

In some cases, these trails can persist for hours and spread out over many miles. In order to keep planes on their flight path, airlines often use kerosene as fuel because it has a lower freezing point than jet fuel. Hence, it allows more time to react before ice build-ups on the wings and prevents planes from flying. (See How does it feel like to fly on a plane for the first time?)

8. Can you Send Messages via Plane Smoke?

Theories reveal that these white trails are often used as a messenger to communicate signals between the pilots. The smoke machines produce unique signals that range from mere proposals to emergency signals. The same technique was used in World War I to transmit messages.

9. Contrails or Chemtrails?

People believed that the plane smoke leaves behind are chemtrails consisting of chemical agents that are toxic to mankind. However, this myth does not have solid proof and is purely based on conspiracy theories.

10. What is Plane Cabin Smoke?

Plane cabin smoke is global health, safety, and environmental problem. Researches reveal, that it is a Group 1 Carcinogen. Travelers have no choice but to inhale it in the enclosed space, which they cannot escape from, for hours at a time.  It is because the normal temperature of the air inside the cabin does not have enough power to evaporate water. So, it needs to be cooled down with a special device before it can be turned into gas. (See Top 10 Smokeless Tobacco Brands)

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