There has been a few questions lately asking for information that really, only people who work with/for the OEM can answer definitively, as it's not publicly available information. Such people most likely can't disclose confidential information, so the question is virtually unanswerable.



The first question (above) is currently open but the second was closed as unclear. I think there was another asking about flight plans too.

What (if anything) should we do with these essentially unanswerable questions?


4 Answers 4


Personally, I would consider the following points:

  • the SE network is interested in questions that might help as many people as possible, such narrow questions are unlikely to be of interest to anyone else except the asker (opposed to say, the requests for API interfaces that at least might interest multiple people)

  • they seem to be about pure data retrieval, with no larger aviation applicability and they do not further the understanding of anyone

  • they are essentially unanswerable, as you mention

So personally I would vote to close them. Either with a dedicated reason (akin to the "too localized" on the main SO site) or making them explicitly off-topic

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I didn't think your first bullet was a requirement. More widely useful questions get more attention of course. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Feb 22, 2017 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say the first bullet point is a "requirement", but it's certainly something that weighs against a question in my mind if it's also "pure data retrieval" or otherwise effectively unanswerable. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Feb 22, 2017 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ @fooot but I do not describe it as a "requirement". if it is a matter of wording, I am happy to rephrase what currently sounds as "requirement", if can point it out to me. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Feb 22, 2017 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Federico I think the confusion is more in that your other two points are (de facto) requirements: Questions have to be related to aviation and have at least some broad applicability, and they have to be factually answerable (or at least solicit opinions backed by fact) because we're not a "forum" $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Feb 22, 2017 at 20:27

Mod Hat OFF

I'm not a fan of these "pure data retrieval" questions, to steal Federico's term: We're talking about trivia that you're probably not even going to find in the manufacturer's parts manual (the exact dimensions of a turbine blade), largely because if they were readily published it would be really easy to conduct industrial espionage: Just buy the parts book!

If the question had some context to allow for more explanation & produce a post that would clearly be useful to some subset of the aviation community it wouldn't bother me, but "Give me the dimensions of Part X" is basically what Stack Overflow calls a Give Me Teh Codes question to which I would normally reply "Why don't you ask the manufacturer? And if they won't tell you what makes you think we (a) know, and (b) would break the NDA we probably had to sign in order to tell you?"

Mod Hat ON

I don't feel strongly enough about these questions to mod-hammer them unless there's a clear community consensus (a top-voted answer here saying "We don't want this type of question" would be one such indication of consensus).

I also don't want to see the site go off the deep-end and close any question requesting a specific piece of esoteric information as off-topic for this reason: We have a few of those on the site with excellent answers, and some of them are among our most-viewed and highest-voted posts.
Wherever posible we should try to work with the person asking the question to construct something of broader interest, and only if we can't should we send them off to go talk to the manufacturer and kill the question.


I don't think either of them is a good question, but the data to answer them isn't particularly proprietary.

The first Google hit on "trent 1000 fan blade dimensions" gave the basic fan blade parameters (max radius, chord length, mass, max operating RPM, etc) as part of a 48-slide PowerPoint presentation on the engine. You could probably find some of this on the Rolls-Royce public website as well. Of course that level of "detail" is not remotely useful for creating a meaningful CAD model, but it's what the OP asked for! (I didn't bother to look for the corresponding GP7200 data).

IMO the deleted question is certainly answerable conceptually - e.g. by explaining the engineering reasons why engines (and nacelles) are not aligned parallel to the aircraft fuselage centerline. Since the question is deleted, I don't know whether the OP wanted actual numbers for a specific engine/aircraft combination, which probably would be impossible to come by (though in practice there isn't a lot of variation between different aircraft, and the ballpark numbers aren't exactly confidential secrets).


There has been a few questions lately asking for information that really, only people who work with/for the OEM can answer definitively, as it's not publicly available information.

It depends on what we want for this site: Enthusiasts, experts, insiders...? My opinion is the site would benefit from attracting and retaining people from the aviation domains, to balance the high number of self-educated enthusiasts (a group I belong to).

On the other hand, I'm often filled with consternation when I see trivial questions reaching summits, and potentially interesting questions not upvoted. So maybe experts won't find a lot of interest in being ignored by the voters.

We have the possibility to change that it this is what we want. But these people won't come to explain the difference between groundspeed and airspeed.

What is the problem with leaving these very focused questions open? Even if we considered them having little interest... there are tons of unanswered questions with, IMHO, a really limited interest for this site.

Regarding whether a question can be answered, looking at these ones, I'm not sure we can know for sure.


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