It’s no secret that pilots on long-haul flights have access to private sleeping quarters that passengers never see, but it turns out there are more surprises hidden away inside a modern airliner, including an entire server room full of rack mounted computers and electronics located beneath the cockpit.
YouTuber ‘bjornpilot’ is an airline pilot who flies Airbus 330, 340, and 350 aircraft who also likes to document their travels and globetrotting adventures with a wide-angle action cam on the end of a selfie stick. Occasionally, they also share videos revealing the secrets of air travel, which is what their most recent video focuses on while an Airbus 350 sits at an airport gate between flights.
If you assumed that, like a small single-propeller plane, the electronics and computers that power an Airbus 350 are all hidden behind the cockpit’s instrument panel and walls of the aircraft, you’re underestimating just how much computing power is needed to operate a modern airliner. Inside the cockpit is a trapdoor on the floor that leads to the plane’s avionics compartment beneath, which can really only be described as a full-on server room with floor-to-ceiling racks of computers and other electronics and enough room for someone to actually stand down there.
It makes sense to put all of this equipment in one easy-to-access place so that maintenance doesn’t require parts of the aircraft to be completely torn apart, but the size of this compartment is what’s most impressive given commercial airliners never feel especially spacious inside. If you’ve ever watched Hollywood blockbusters like Flightplan or Air Force One, you’re probably questioned the plausibility of someone moving around a plane without going through the cabin. But bjornpilot also reveals an easy access door between the Airbus’ avionics compartment and the plane’s cargo hold, so the idea that you can stealthily move through an entire airliner undetected isn’t that far-fetched.