Student Question

# Explain why an airplane flying from New York to Los Angeles has both kinetic energy and potential energy.

First of all, energy is used to do work, which is defined by a change in position. Energy is constantly being converted from potential to kinetic to potential, and so on, depending on its location and what's being done to it.

An airplane in flight has both kinetic and potential energy, and they are present in more than one way:

• Kinetic energy, or that caused by the plane's motion.  The airplane moving is like a waterfall in cascade.  The water hitting something else will have enough energy to change its position (displacing it, thereby doing work).
• Potential energy, or that used by the plane's position so high above the ground.  The airplane's position in the air carries with it the potential for the plane to do work on whatever is below it, were it to (let it not be so) fall from the sky.  This is just as the water above the cascading falls has the potential, because of its location, to do work.
• More potential energy, caused by the chemical energy in the structure of bonds in stored gasoline and batteries with the potential to do work...
• More kinetic energy through the combustion of gasoline as the plane accelerates and moves.

As the plane rises and falls and accelerates and decelerates, the potential and kinetic energy change accordingly.

Approved by eNotes Editorial

Explain why an airplane flying from New York to Los Angeles has both  kinetic  energy and potential energy.

The kinetic energy and the potential energy are two forms of mechanical energy. The kinetic energy is associated with the movement of the bodies. For a body with mass (m) and velocity (v), kinetic energy is expressed by the following equation:

KE = (mv^2)/2

m,  is the mass of the body.

v,  is the velocity

The potential energy is characteristic of the fields of force such as the gravitational field. The potential energy of gravity of a body with mass (m), that has moved to a height (h) in relation to the Earth's surface, is as follows:

PE = m*g*h

m,  is the mass of the body.

h,  is the height.

g,  is the acceleration of gravity.

During a flight the plane moves with a speed (v) at a height (h) above the Earth's surface, so during the flight both types of energy are present in the aircraft.

## See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Last Updated on