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Frequent and a maybe-a-little-too-nervous flyer here. Recently I've been taking the ORD-WAW course with LOT on the 787 Dreamliner and started noticing a sound that's been a little spooky for a person who's seen a little too many flight-crash explanation videos (I know, I'm trying to quit). My next flight is in October, and before that I wanted to find any technical reason why I shouldn't worry.

The noise was captured on this youtube video. It's the "thudding" noise that cuts right before the video ends: LINK

This sound took place after landing but I believe I experienced it also before take off and it's accompanied but a rhythmic beating feeling from the bottom.

If there's anyone here who could elaborate on the supposed source of the noise it would be very helpful for me.

Additionally, if you guys could also elaborate on the high-pitched noise it would be even better because it's a sound I keep hearing before take-off and right before landing and it's scaring me every since the flight prior where after some technical-issues were fixed the high-pitch noise would be followed by this weird sound close to a high-pitched version of trying to start an engine, followed by a hissing-sound (which made me thing we're about to crash only...four dang times).

I understand this question might be a little vague, and if there's any details then I would love to elaborate. Being and engineer I suppose I'm much more forgiving for strange noises when I somewhat aware what it could be.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully you don't get to the airport by car... $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Sep 13, 2023 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ Learning what the different sounds are is good, but not the only way to manage nervousness about flying. Eventually you will hear other sounds that you can't identify and then the cycle repeats. You need to continually remind yourself how safe flying is. In the past ten years a total of five people have been killed in U.S. airline accidents out of 80 million airline flights. You might say I know that but I still feel nervous. It's like feeling hunger, it creates a primal nervousness, you have to keep reminding yourself that you are not in physical danger. Not saying it's always easy to do. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2023 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ Understand but still, travelling by car is some 60 times deadlier than flying! And the reason is simply that something going wrong in a car is much more probable than in an airplane: If your tire explodes while on the highway, you die; if your airplane loses a wing while flying, well it doesn't lose a wing in the first place 😉 $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Sep 13, 2023 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ @aln447 - I am sure you have had a debate with someone who states facts out of context and refuses to acknowledge facts that don't fit the point they are trying to prove. Without realizing it you are doing this to yourself. Part of your brain is saying "airplanes fly at deadly altitudes, my life depends on many things going right. Cars are on the ground, if I have a problem I can stop the car and get out". That part of your brain is refusing to acknowledge that 40,000 people per year die on U.S. highways. How well did the "I can just stop the car and get out" strategy work for them? $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2023 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @aln447 - "I know that there are people checking the planes but being an engineer in a different field myself I know how well people often check things". Again this is focusing on only one facet. Statistics show that while imperfect they do an excellent job. Now consider driving, your life depends on the unknown random driver, in who knows what mental condition, who is guiding their 2-ton mass of steel within a few feet of your 2-ton mass of steel, at a combined speed of over 100 mph. Your life is in their hands. If you survive great, but now here comes the next car, and another, and another. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2023 at 15:38

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Without watching the video, I can almost guarantee you the sounds you're hearing and movement you're feeling is flaps/slats moving (get a seat over wing and you'll see them moving) and if airborne then its undercarriage doors opening/closing and the gear locking into place. I assure you these sort of sounds are not out of the ordinary and almost certainly nothing to worry about.

Another sound you might hear/feel whilst still parked is the cargo bay doors closing and locking into place, again get the right seat and you'll hear it just after the last baggage cart moves away.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply! What since the feeling was during taxi (although away from the gate) and after directly after landing then I believe it was the cargo doors. What would you say about the high-pitched noise though? It's honestly the one I'm worried about more due to the "car-starting" sounds it made on my August flight. $\endgroup$
    – aln447
    Sep 13, 2023 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ @aln447There are so many actuators, and hydraulic/electronic systems on these jets that its hard bordering on impossible to know what every sound is. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Sep 13, 2023 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @aln447: On Airbus you'll hear the sound of dogs barking in the cargo bays, it's for safety. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 13, 2023 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec That's what I thought. Still hoped that since the high-pitched sound acompanies every start and landing procedures then maybe there would be some explanation to it. I'm slowly thinking if it's not the slats since the sound is usually long and happens at times when the plane would-probably-need-them. Still...if this sound produced the car-starting noises then means during the start and landing there was something wrong with them so...yikes? $\endgroup$
    – aln447
    Sep 13, 2023 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ "far from the gate", @aln447, would absolutely NOT be cargo doors! Well, if it is, there should be alarms going off in the cockpit for an open door and they'll taxi to some stopping point where ground crew will come, pick up anything that fell out and stuff it back in the trunk, er, cargo hold, then latch & lock the door and triple check that it's closed correctly. Also, none of these sounds are specific to the 787 - they all make noises at varying volumes and you'll hear them on every flight if you're listening closely. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Sep 13, 2023 at 17:55

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