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Questions tagged [safety]

Safety includes all aspects of protecting aircraft, passengers and crew from accidents, mistakes and other potentially dangerous situations.

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4answers
18k views

Who has the higher authority, the pilot in command or ATC?

I'm sure many people have heard about the communication between a Delta flight 2244 and Atlanta tower being on news today. When the Controller informs the Pilot he is on a wrong taxi-way, things get ...
36
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5answers
72k views

How much is the minimum safe distance between two planes in-flight?

According to FAA regulations, how far should a commercial jet be away from another plane in-flight? How about military planes? They get really close when in formations... Is there a minimum distance?
27
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8answers
12k views

Why aren't cell phones allowed to be used in aircraft?

What problems do cell phones cause? How is using a cell phone in the air different than using it from the ground?
63
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14answers
51k views

Why are commercial flights not equipped with parachutes for the passengers?

I understand that commercial flights are equipped with life vests. I also understand that most military jets are equipped with ejection seats. It may be costly and technically challenging to equip ...
14
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2answers
26k views

Why don't big commercial planes have full aircraft parachutes?

On smaller aircraft, like some Cirruses for example, they have parachutes attached to the body of the aircraft that can help the plane get to the ground safely in an emergency. I'm wondering why ...
69
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11answers
15k views

Why don't commercial jet aircraft have a break-apart, parachute escape system?

Imagine that the pilots on a jet aircraft determine that it will crash. Consider what would happen if the design of the craft allowed it to: Break into four pieces Each piece is pressurized ...
20
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3answers
21k views

How does TCAS work?

TCAS is obviously a fantastic piece of kit, but I was wondering: exactly how does it work? What I mean is, how does it determine whether to tell a pilot to climb or descend when there's traffic? ...
55
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8answers
14k views

Even after years of research, why are planes unable to keep passengers alive in case of a fiery crash?

Aviation dates back to the 18th century, and since then tremendous research has been put into making aircraft safer and more efficient. Though these efforts have resulted in better aircraft, why are ...
23
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2answers
3k views

Why can't most jets safely use reverse thrust while airborne?

According to Wikipedia: Some aircraft are able to safely use reverse thrust in flight, though the majority of these are propeller-driven. Many commercial aircraft cannot use reverse thrust in ...
36
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10answers
5k views

Is it even remotely feasible to turnback a single engine aircraft with an engine failure?

Note before reading further that I'm asking this question purely on theoretical grounds, though you are more than welcome to talk about practical aspects as well. Now, my question. It's common ...
43
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6answers
14k views

When are aircraft required to dump fuel for emergency landings?

I've heard that in a lot of instances a jet that is making an emergency landing is required to dump excess fuel. In a lot of instances this would make a lot of sense. For example, if the gear cannot ...
22
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6answers
5k views

Can passenger movement in an airliner make it stall?

This question shows a couple of air hostesses dancing during mid-flight and the co-pilot came out of the cabin to record it. This made me wonder: Can flight crew or passengers moving around in ...
35
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14answers
11k views

Why do passenger jets accept input that will cause the aircraft to perform dangerous maneuvers it was not designed for?

Examples: A bank angle > 45 degrees is considered an “upset,” putting the plane in a position that can lead to a loss of control. A pitch > 20 degrees can possibly be dangerous and cause the ...
36
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6answers
25k views

Do lights on aircraft flash in a specific pattern?

On a clear night, everyone can spot planes quite easily: they have flashing lights. I have noticed that the pattern seems different for different planes, and tried to find a meaning. What I saw so ...
14
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5answers
3k views

How do larger aircraft compensate for reduced visibility from the cockpit, e.g. less visibility of the rear of the aircraft?

In smaller planes, pilots has apparently great visibility in front, on the sides and a good portion of the rear of the plane. But as the plane's size is increased, the visibility is also reduced. One ...
57
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4answers
94k views

How dangerous is flying in a single-engine plane?

Some people consider flying small planes very dangerous. Just how dangerous is it to fly in a light single-engine plane? For example, how does the fatality rate compare to driving a car, riding a ...
36
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4answers
9k views

Would failure to put on an oxygen mask during loss of cabin pressure result in death?

I was trying to explain to someone why the cabin is pressurized (no one wants hypoxia) and that led to discussion about the emergency oxygen masks available on airliners. If a person didn't put on ...
40
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3answers
32k views

Why do pilots have the ability to turn off the transponder in-flight?

These days, when reading news about missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, I keep coming across a scenario where pilot might have deliberately turned off the transponder which is used for the ...
74
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3answers
17k views

I just flew into class B airspace without a clearance, what should I do now?

Hypothetical: Let's say (for whatever reason) a pilot became distracted or disorientated, and found themselves in class B airspace. What steps should they take immediately and after landing to be ...
29
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9answers
5k views

What things can a passenger look out for, to indicate an emergency?

As a passenger with a keen interest in aviation, I'd like to think I'd be eagle-eyed enough to spot a problem that the pilots mightn't be able to see, from where they're sitting (for example, an ...
52
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3answers
16k views

What does it mean for a door to be armed?

What does "arming a door" mean? Is the orange tape that's applied over a window related, perhaps as an indicator to people outside that the door is armed?
30
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4answers
43k views

What materials are plane windows made of?

I've always wondered, what are those dual-layered (bonus: sometimes they have a little <2mm hole, why is it there?) windows commercial jets put next to their seats made of?
43
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4answers
8k views

Why is laser illumation of a cockpit an emergency?

Another answer pointed out that laser illumination of a cockpit may be considered an emergency, and that pilots may take evasive action when under laser illumination. Why is laser illumination ...
21
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1answer
4k views

How does exceeding the critical Mach number of an aircraft affect its operation?

If an aircraft exceeds its critical Mach number, does it affect the way the aircraft is handled? Are there any significant changes to performance or the safety of the aircraft when above this speed? ...
6
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2answers
3k views

If both pilots are incapacitated, what happens?

How do the airlines prepare for a situation where for some reason both PIC and SIC are incapacitated for the remainder of the flight?
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3answers
2k views

Why are airliner cockpits not shielded from lasers?

With the recent increase in laser incidents reported by pilots, why don't airliner manufacturers shield airliner cockpit glass from lasers? The Abrams tank is shielded, protecting the crew from ...
17
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1answer
4k views

Why don't all new GA planes include a parachute system?

When the Cirrus was first introduced, it included a Ballistic Recovery System, which shoots a parachute out the rear of the plane that can save a plane and its occupants when something goes wrong. ...
16
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1answer
2k views

Airbags in aircraft - is that just a military thing?

The Bell OH-58D (a military helicopter used by the USA) has an airbag to make life better in the event of a crash. I had never heard of such a thing in an aircraft before and I wondered if this ...
16
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4answers
12k views

Is it possible to use reverse thrust while airborne? [duplicate]

I play a flight-sim called X Plane. The other day while I was approaching an airport a little too fast and knew I couldn't slow down in time. I decided to use the reverse thrust while I was still in ...
20
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5answers
2k views

Are the current seat belts used in commercial airlines safe enough?

I find myself thinking often, if the seatbelts in airlines are designed just to keep the passengers in seat or to really act as a safety belt like in cars, because in cars which go at 300kmph speed, ...
32
votes
6answers
82k views

If a typical passenger plane had total failure of all engines mid-flight, is it possible for passengers to survive?

I have pretty bad flying phobia and often wonder what would happen if all the engines on the craft went out at the same time. I initially had the anxiety-ridden thought that the hundreds of thousands ...
23
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8answers
13k views

Where is the safest seat in the plane?

If I'm going on holiday with my family on an airliner such as one of the ones listed on this page, then where is the safest place to sit? The answers to this question seem to imply that the seats at ...
8
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3answers
3k views

How is a wing designed to be stall or spin proof?

Yeah, it sounds like two questions, but I suspect the answers are very closely linked (or maybe even have the same answer.) I was told in this question that trainer planes are often designed to be ...
36
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3answers
54k views

How do aircraft keep fuel from freezing while in flight?

On aircraft which fly above 30,000 feet, the temperature can often can get to temperatures below Jet-A's freezing point. For example: at 36,000 feet the standard outside air temperature is -56.5°C (-...
35
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9answers
42k views

“Airplane mode” does not disable GPS… is it safe to use GPS in flight?

I noticed that even when my phone is in "airplane mode", I can still use the GPS. Theoretically a GPS receiver just receives data, so I guess it would not jam anything. On the contrary, on the ...
16
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8answers
19k views

Why is tailwind during final approach and landing so dangerous?

I understand that tailwind is typically a good thing during your flight as it increases your ground speed and gets you to your destination faster. Despite that I get a feeling that pilots typically ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Airline safety: what happened between 1959 and 1962?

The graph on page 17 (PDF page 18) of this Boeing air safety publication shows the fatal accident rate for commercial jets in the US and Canada dropped from about 40 per million departures in 1959 to ...
57
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2answers
5k views

Are the instrument panels in the cockpit spill / waterproof?

There are multiple switches and buttons in the cockpit, with different shapes and layouts. Are they spill proof? What if the pilot spills water or coffee on them, will they still function?
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2answers
9k views

How do pilots rest on long-haul flights?

When flying on a long-haul airliner flight in economy, often I find it very hard to fall asleep. However, when off cockpit duties, they still have to get rest so that they are able to control the ...
27
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2answers
7k views

How is fuel dumped in aircraft?

I have heard incidents in which commercial aircraft are required to dump fuel in event of an emergency to avoid landing over maximum landing weight. What systems do aircraft have in place to dump fuel?...
26
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3answers
8k views

Why are passenger seats not facing backward on an airplane?

In the event of a crash, facing backward sounds much safer: Forces are applied on a much larger surface (your whole back is in contact with the seats, instead of just a seatbelt and maybe the ...
26
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4answers
2k views

Why are you required to commit to a full stop landing if reverse thrust is selected?

According to Airbus: ‐ After the flight crew selects reverse thrust, they must perform a full stop landing. Does it really make sense to have this limitation, and why? What happens if you realise ...
25
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2answers
15k views

Is it true that the pilot and co-pilot are required to eat different meals?

I was watching a documentary about a Lufthansa A380, and they said that the pilot and co-pilot are required to eat different meals; why is that? Is it a country-specific requirement, or airline-...
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6answers
7k views

What are the ways to keep the birds away from airfields?

I know bird strikes are a major issue for many airports, and that measures are taken to keep birds away. There are some obvious things airports can do like not to have any stray garbage, food, etc. in ...
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1answer
1k views

Would an A320 override the autothrottle due to an erroneous radio-altimeter?

The pilots in Turkish airlines flight 1951 had multiple issues with the auto-throttle setting itself to idle during approach: despite manually adding throttle, the plane stalled and crashed before ...
8
votes
1answer
11k views

Do airlines continue operating in the vicinity of a hurricane?

Have hung around some of the aviation interest groups (like airliners.net) and tried to research this but haven't found very clear answers. Typically when a hurricane (tropical, peak wind-speed in ...
3
votes
1answer
238 views

What happens to an airborne plane when its type is grounded by an authority?

Many countries have (temporarily I think) banned 737 Max 8s from taking off or landing. What happened to the ones in the air? Do they get special permissions or are they forced to divert to a ...
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5answers
15k views

How common are cancelled landing attempts?

I recently traveled from Stansted, UK to Skavsta, Sweden with Ryanair, and was informed that depending on the weather (it was very foggy), we might end up landing at Arlanda (~150 km from Skavsta) ...
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3answers
2k views

What steps can pilots take to mitigate the risk of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)?

One of the inherent risks in flying an aircraft is a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) incident. CFIT occurs when a flight impacts terrain while under positive control. Aside from incidents of ...
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1answer
1k views

What are the regulations involved in aerial advertising?

I often see small aircraft flying at a low altitude around beaches and the like with banner advertisements trailing behind them on a rope sort of structure. I have a few questions about them: What ...