Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Airplane on a conveyor belt

  1. Feb 6, 2010 #1
    This question was posed on another forum. I figure the best place to get the true answer would be on a forum dedicated to physics.

    If there was an airplane with wheels and the wheels are resting on a giant conveyor belt, will the plane achieve flight? The conveyor belt will match the speed of the wheels. The wheels also cannot skid on the conveyor belt.

    Isn't it true that the plane cannot move forward no matter how much thrust is applied? This is because the wheels must roll faster than the conveyor is moving back in order for the plane to move. If the plane isn't moving with the engine blazing, the pilot applies more fuel for more thrust, and tries to move the plane forward, and what happens is the wheels spin faster now because the engines are pulling harder. But even still, the plane will not move because as the wheels spin faster, so will the conveyor belt move faster to match the wheel speed.

    Will the plane achieve flight? Speed is needed to achieve lift at the wings. Since the plane cannot achieve speed, because it cannot move, it will not achieve lift, and it will not fly.
    Agree or disagree?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2010 #2

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook