In reading the report into the crash of UPS Flight 6, I noticed that one of the items of feedback from pilots in a simulated inflight-fire scenario utilising a smoke-filled simulator was (page 287 of the report):

In the thickest smoke, only Braille will help. What bigger font does to you, if there is any "break" in the smoke, it allows you to see more letters (group), therefore part of words. From that you can deduct what the action on the checklist is for the next step.

(Emphasis added.)

Which makes sense, as Braille, unlike most scripts, is read by touch rather than by sight, and is, thus, unaffected by limited or nonexistent cockpit visibility, while visual scripts, even with large, simple glyphs, have their legibility severely impaired by a smoky cockpit (in dense smoke, the pilot(s) essentially have to wait to do anything until the smoke momentarily lifts), and are completely useless in a zero-visibility environment.

With this in mind, do any airlines (passenger and/or cargo) have Braille checklists for use in situations of severely degraded cockpit visibility (such as a cockpit filled to the brim with dense black smoke)?

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    $\begingroup$ This seems like ridiculous folklore, nobody I know of that goes through private, commercial, or ATP training was ever required to learn to read braille. If you can't see a checklist 6" in front of your face, how are you going to see the instruments? I know for a fact there are no "braille instruments"... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Dec 5 '18 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure "only Braille will help" is semi-sarcastic, meaning there is nothing useful that can be done to make checklists useful in the worst circumstances $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth Dec 6 '18 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ A Braille checklist would require pilots to learn, practice, and be proficient at reading Braille in high-stress emergency situations. Does that seem like a reasonable burden to you? $\endgroup$ – abelenky Dec 6 '18 at 18:47

I agree with the answer given, but wanted to add that most checklists for emergencies of this type have (bold faced, or asterisk) items that are required to be committed to memory. Also, certain knobs, switches, and handles are shaped differently, allowing them to be identified and actuated by feel in a low or zero visibility situation. (smoke, loss of cockpit lighting at night, etc.)

During simulator flight training in the Navy we used to be required to perform some procedures blindfolded, finding knobs by feel based on their relative position and shape. Memorization and blindfold drills would be far more useful expenditure of time than learning braille to follow a written checklist.


It would be counter productive

  • It takes time to learn (especially touch reading)
  • It takes time to keep proficient

This is time spent on a skill useless for >99,999999% of flights

This is time NOT spent on more useful safety trainings

This wouldn't work anyway

  • It would be very slow to find the correct checklist then read it
  • If the aircraft is shaking, it would hinder your speed/prevent your from reading
  • You have to take your hands of from other controls to read

There is better alternatives

Simply having a recording/speech synthesis/speech command would solve it.

This is time NOT spent on more useful safety trainings

This one is a killer


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