“If a natural disaster like a flock of birds or a bolt of lightning causes a plane's engines to fail, you know what should be expected? That the pilot will keep his or her wits about them and do their best to save each and every soul on board. That's precisely what Captain 'Sully' Sullenberger and the rest of his crew did.” Mike Gallagher
Mike Gallagher’s quote above basically sums up what to do in the event that something alarming takes place on a flight. The way to go about for a pilot is to ensure everyone’s safety while keeping the hard work in the cockpit area. As you’ll see in this article when the unforeseen takes place during a flight you probably don’t know about it. For instance, what might sound like turbulence might actually be a swarm of birds headed towards the plane and the pilot trying to dodge them. This is just one of the many alarming things pilots do on a regular basis. The irony here is passengers remain clueless. It is the absolute duty of a pilot to keep things calm in the event that something alarming is set to take place. As you’ll see throughout the article that’s definitely for the best given the severity of the issues they are forced to deal with.
Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. From low fuel to almost colliding with other planes – these are 20 alarming things airline pilots do that they would never tell their passengers. Let’s get started!
20 They Put The Minimum Amount Of Fuel In The Planes
If a plane suddenly stops for a landing and it isn’t supposed to it might be because of fuel concerns. What pilots don’t tell us is that planes aren’t filled to the rim in terms of fuel.
Instead as a cost cutting measure planes are typically filled with just enough gas to get to the destination.
This used to be a much bigger issue a couple of years ago due to the elevated costs. However nowadays the price has dropped dramatically. Nonetheless pilots are still looking to reduce the costs with as little fuel as possible. Now imagine telling the passengers that before a flight!
19 They Sometimes Nap In The Cockpit
Fatigue is one of the biggest issues when it comes to working as a pilot. However like the fuel issue this has decreased over the years. Pilots now have lighter schedules; however the travelling aspect of it all can still take its toll especially during lengthy flights. Several pilots have admitted to taking a quick nap in the cockpit when needed during a long voyage. Just imagine asking to talk to the captain of the flight and attendant telling you he is unavailable and taking a nap... Yea, both the pilot and the attendant likely wouldn’t want you to know. However it should be noted that when a pilot does take a nap the co-pilot has things under control. Nevertheless this is frowned upon co-pilot or not.
18 Bird Encounters
If you here a weird noise at the front of the plane it might be a pilot battling it out with a flock of birds or geese.
People might not know this, but pilots typically get swarmed by entire flocks of birds either during a flight or for the most part, when it is time to take off.
During an interview with Stuff a pilot discusses dealing with this alarming issue that few are really aware of; "It's pretty much impossible to dodge, so you just have to hope that you don't smack any. They could easily go through the windshield and take out my face. I'm sure some passengers saw birds, but it was never anything that we needed to tell them."
17 Purposely Increase Flight Times
Does it really get any better than a flight arriving on time? But what if we told you that the same flight could have made it even quicker? This is another reality as according to various pilots, crews tend to extend a route if they made it to the destination too quickly. This is done for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is sticking to schedule and pleasing the Air Traffic Control Center. Typically various flights are set to land at times close to one another - landing earlier than you were supposed to can cause complications for other flights. For that reason it is best to save some time, whether the passenger likes it or not.
16 Flying Way Too Close To Other Planes
"I have come very close a couple of times when evasive manoeuvres were made. Unless you really have to crank and bank, most passengers notice the movement but think it's due to turbulence. But there's usually one or two back there that ask about it. At that point, I'm pretty honest, but never reveal how close we really were." Yup, pretty scary huh? What you thought was turbulence might have been a pilot barely avoiding contact with another plane.
This happens a lot of times with aircrafts coming far too close to one another.
Impaired vision has a lot to do with that, thankfully the radars let the pilots know what’s coming their way. Nonetheless navigating at such accelerated speeds it is at times inventible to cross paths with another plane – just don’t tell the passengers!
15 Dealing With Frozen Wings
This one can take place in colder climates. It is crucial that before the flight maintenance workers get rid of all the frost that might be stuck to the plane’s wings. Not doing so can result in a troubled runway launch with the plane struggling to make it in the air. This happened in the past though thankfully in lots of cases the pilots were merely able to make it nonetheless. Once the plane makes it in the air the frost typically melts off because of the sun, this according to Stuff.
14 Duct Tape Used For Repairs
Just imagine there’s an issue with the engine and the pilot tells the passengers “don’t worry, we’ll use a little bit of duct tape and we’ll all be good.” Yea, that probably wouldn’t be the best the idea. This is a tactic that gets used more times than passengers think. While taking a flight with Easy Jet a passenger decided to take a video of a crew worker fixing the engine with duct tape. As you might imagine the clip went viral through the likes of The Sun and Fox News. Duct tape has also been used on the inside of a plane in the past. A number of travellers have taken photos of the lacklustre repair measure whether it be on the seats or underneath the windows.
13 Fumes In Cockpit Area
This instance happens more times than it actually should. Again in order to not get the passengers worked up this is never mentioned by a pilot or flight crew during a trip.
The contamination leads pilots into a feeling of nausea and it also diminishes their ability to communicate with others.
In this type of situation extra oxygen is absolutely essential in order to ensure a pilot’s well-being. It is pretty surreal to think about that going on while the passengers are just comfortably in their seats.
12 Fog Blindness
Fog is another issue pilots typically deal with especially in rainy areas. For the passenger it might be cool looking out the window and seeing the eerie fog just continues to build up. However the same can’t be said for a pilot who struggles to see anything during that time. Now this isn’t the biggest issue during takeoff. Pilots can leave despite the fog build up. However the same set of rules do not apply when it comes to the landing of a plane. Pilots are required to have full vision when it is time to land – it the fog prohibits their sight landing must be avoided till it clears.
11 Lightning Scares
Passengers might not want to hear this but lightning strikes are a common occurrence in the aviation business. However that doesn’t mean that pilots aren’t scared when this goes down. A pilot recalls a scenario with Stuff; “Had a huge lightning strike landing into Heathrow yesterday. Saw the bolt flash right in front of my windscreen. The passengers were told about it (the ones at the front would have known anyway) but they wouldn't have seen all three of us jump in our seats like little girls." So you’re saying that turbulence was just pilots jumping out of their seats?
10 Dangers On The Runway
As you might be able to tell by know the runway is a lot more dangerous than passengers really think – however pilots won’t reveal such information.
Not only are they forced to combat with birds, weather complications and plane issues but they must also be aware of other planes.
It has happened in the past that planes get far too close to one another on the runway. For that reason, planes typically completely stop on the runway and wait for the other one to take off. Although the delay tends to be annoying we’d much rather that than the option of colliding into another aircraft.
9 Different Food Compared To Passengers
Okay this one might not sound too bad on the surface. Pilots get a different meal, big deal. However the reason might be a little more alarming than you might have thought, a pilot explains to The Independent; “Flight attendants give us special meals, so that if the airline food shipment was contaminated, we won't get sick.” So that doesn’t sound all too convincing! However putting the fact that you might get contaminated aside it’s a wise idea that the pilot doesn’t feel ill as well! So suck it up and let that plane food devour your insides! Or not, whatever’s best.
8 Oxygen Mask Duration
Two things related to oxygen masks. For one, the pilot won’t ever tell the passengers the severity of the situation when it comes to putting on the oxygen masks. Their job is to keep things calm and not tell them every little detail. Like for instance did you know that oxygen masks only last 15 minutes? Yea, that’s something passengers wouldn’t like to know. However it should also be noted that once the plane starts to drop due to lower altitude it becomes a lot easier to breathe. Nonetheless for pilots less is more in these types of situations.
7 Engine Failures
If an engine failure is to take place a passenger definitely won’t know about. Instead a pilot might say they’re undergoing some difficulties without getting too specific.
A pilot saying the engine failed wouldn’t be wise at all, as the passengers on the plane would lose their cool and that’s the last thing a pilot wants during a difficult situation.
In the event that this would take place Karlene Petit, an experienced pilot discusses the best option; "What would go through my mind is fly the plane and do everything I can to get the engines started. Normally when you get down around 24,000 feet you should be able to get one started because of the denser air at that altitude."
6 Complete Blindness While Flying In Heavy Rain
This sounds really troubling but there is a lot more to it. The truth is when it comes to the main windshield pilots have their view completely obstructed during a heavy rain fall. This is similar to fog as we discussed earlier in the article. It isn’t as bad as most would think – so far that reason its best pilots don’t reveal this information at all. What common folks don’t realize is rarely do pilots look out the front windshield, they are instead typically looking at their radar and other flying instruments for navigating the plane. They are trained to do so with the tools to their disposal – looking outside isn’t necessary while in the high altitudes.
5 Losing Electrical Power
Losing electrical power is another occurrence passengers might not be aware of. Wisely, in order to facilitate the shock attendants will turn off the lights beforehand. This gets the passengers eyes adjusted to the darkness without the shock of it suddenly all going off at once. Again pilots make no mention of the electrical difficulties and usually the problem gets restored without anyone even noticing the issue altogether. In these types of incidents it is crucial for a pilot to keep calm. In order to ensure this it must be one of the biggest priorities to calm the passengers down before anything else.
4 Not Warning The Passengers About A Crash
According to pilot Alan Clement in the event of a possible crash the passengers are not informed due to stress concerns. Instead, if time permits they might make an announcement to brace for impact. However there is also the possibility that nothing is said; “If there is time, the crew will give the "Brace for Impact" command… But if the workload in the cockpit is too high, or there is too little time, this might go unsaid.”
It should be noted that a plane crash is quite rare and it is more likely that a plane goes down for an emergency landing.
If this is the case the announcement is made beforehand. The tone of the message is usually one that is made to make the passengers believe that it really isn’t too big of a deal.
3 Single Floaters Over Rafts In Case Of Emergency
This depends on the flight company. However a growing trend that airlines are starting to use more and more frequently is the use of single and little floatation devices in the case of an emergency landing in the water. This as opposed to a raft. For those that can’t swim this might lead to lots of panic. Therefore pilots aren’t really discussing the change. So why get the passengers all nervous with this change? According to the recent news it is being done as a weight maintenance precaution. It is said that the raft weighs way too much and it causes the plane to waste more fuel than needed. So basically more cost-cutting...
2 Getting Nervous During Updrafts
Ever wonder what gets a pilot’s blood boiling? You might be surprised to realize that it isn’t turbulence but instead updrafts. An updraft is created through moist air as a result of a severe thunderstorm. Updrafts have the capability to literally push upwards into the sky, that’s a lot more troubling than a little turbulence and the plane shaking. According to Jon Nance via his interview with The Express it’s a scary situation; "A plane flies into a massive updraft, which you can't see on the radar at night, and it's like hitting a giant speed bump at 500 miles an hour. It throws everything up in the air and then down very violently. That's not the same as turbulence, which bounces everyone around for a while."
1 Carry Around Extra Protection
According to a pilot via The Independent some captains carry around a firearm throughout a flight as a safety measure; “Federal Flight Deck Officers can carry a firearm in the cockpit,” wrote an anonymous Quora contributor. “Lots of protocol exists to ensure that the training, concealment, and utilization is standardized.” The firearms program is a voluntary one. However it is currently unknown how many pilots actually go through the licensing. For security reasons the names of the pilots have not been disclosed. However as of 2003 this has been option all depending on the pilot’s stance on the protection method.
Sources: AviationGeeks.com, Independent.co.uk, AskThePilots.com