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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76
votes
3answers
19k 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 ...
70
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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 ...
65
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14answers
59k 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 ...
58
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4answers
103k 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 ...
58
votes
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?
57
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8answers
60k views

Can a human get sucked into a jet engine?

Can a human get sucked into the jet engine of a normal modern airliner? if so has it ever happened and what is the minimum or maximum weight that these engines can suck? As a safety measure, wouldn't ...
56
votes
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 ...
54
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3answers
18k 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?
51
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8answers
25k views

Why don't pilots parachute from small planes that are in distress?

There was another question that asked why commercial flights don't have parachutes. The almost ubiquitous response was that the parachutes would be useless because: Most accidents with commercial ...
50
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9answers
10k views

Why don't commercial passenger safety videos ever explain policy instead of merely dictating it?

British Airways announced and published their new in-flight passenger safety video: I'd like to draw your attention to two pieces of instruction given in the video, ...
50
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3answers
9k views

How dissimilar are redundant flight control computers?

Facts On Airbus aircraft there are computers to secure the flight envelope, or to move the control surfaces. FADECs totally control the engines. Computers take decisions in place of the pilots, or ...
49
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6answers
16k views

How dangerous was the turbulence on this commercial flight?

EDIT: Having read these great answers I feel a little ashamed for the fear I felt on this recent flight. However, judging by my reaction to the experience and the reaction of those around me on the ...
47
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3answers
23k views

What is the technique or procedure to disable/disengage the MCAS on Boeing 737 Max 8 & 9 Aircraft? [closed]

With regard to the recent crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, where according to preliminary reports, it appears to be related to the MCAS, which is a safety system that pushes the nose ...
44
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6answers
9k views

Is a weak battery a valid reason to reject a rented aircraft?

Today I had rented a Piper Archer III for a local flight. After taxing to the fuel and filling up, I went to start the plane again and it did not want to turn over. This particular plane is somewhat ...
44
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4answers
19k 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 ...
43
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6answers
15k 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 ...
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 ...
42
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4answers
35k views

How is fuel dumping safe?

The answers to this this question make it clear how modern airliners dump fuel in the case of an emergency. As far as I understand, fuel dumping might be done to lower an aircraft's weight to the ...
41
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3answers
33k 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 ...
41
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3answers
6k views

Would a homemade lawn chair balloon be visible on ATC and collision avoidance radar?

I am not a pilot, but have a question about radar detection of improvised lawn chair balloons that I thought might be on-topic here. This BBC news article describes a marketing stunt gone awry ...
41
votes
1answer
2k views

Can experts identify the model using this part (FOD prevention purposes)?

We found this part of an aircraft recently and, in order to improve the safety levels at our airport, we would like to know what possible aircraft model (or models) are compatible with this cover so ...
40
votes
5answers
7k views

Is the seat-belt sign activation when a pilot goes to the lavatory standard procedure?

Yesterday, I took an inter-European commercial flight with a popular budget airline. Before take-off, the captain announced that the First Officer would be taking the entire flight today. During the ...
40
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3answers
7k views

Is 3 crew cockpit safer than 2 crew?

Today, commercial aircraft cockpit is manned by 2 pilots, previously it was 3 to 5. Is safety compromised in any way?
40
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4answers
9k views

Do military bases still employ wheel watchers?

When I was in the air wing in the '70s, I had the unpleasant opportunity of pulling wheel watch. The unfortunate individual sat in a small shack (maybe 3 x 6 ft.) with a pair of high-powered ...
40
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5answers
78k 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?
39
votes
5answers
16k 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) ...
39
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5answers
41k views

Why must one wait 48 hours to fly, after scuba diving?

Is this rule even true and why is it? I'm going to assume it has to do with pressure but can someone give me a good explanation?
37
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8answers
28k views

How safe is the Boeing 737-800 in high winds?

I'm not good with flying. However, on Wednesday morning I'm flying from Gatwick to Bergen, Norway, traveling alone with two young children. I'm trying desperately to not show my kids how afraid I am ...
37
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9answers
43k 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 ...
37
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6answers
28k 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 ...
36
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8answers
18k views

Why are First/Business Class seats at the front of aircraft where it is the least safe?

According to this image, taken from The Science of Survivability (Page 79) from NOAA, the statistically safest seats to sit in are at the rear of the plane (69% survival rate vs 49% at the front). ...
36
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6answers
13k views

Why do we say certain things three times (e.g., “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”), rather than two or four?

Repetition is a key characteristic of communication in the control tower, cockpit, and control room. Some phrases, like "Mayday" get repeated. The speaker says the same thing three times. We know ...
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 ...
36
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10answers
6k 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 ...
36
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3answers
61k 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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14answers
12k 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 ...
35
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6answers
8k views

Why can't the A320's computer-imposed limits be overridden?

Under the investigation section of US Airways Flight 1549, it is noted that [The pilot] asserted that insufficient credit was given to the A320's fly-by-wire design, by which the pilot uses a side-...
34
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3answers
7k views

How long to clear the 'suck zone' of a turbofan after start is initiated?

I recently found this (IMO funny) picture. All funny and all. But let's make this a real situation. Let's suppose I see my crush and his BF doing this, and I come with this 'genius' idea (alright, it'...
34
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7answers
13k views

Is a helicopter ride unsafe for young children?

Recently we were in London and noticed how so many helicopter rides were there. While booking a ride I found out that they do not take a child under 4 years of age, none of the Heli ride companies I ...
33
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10answers
13k views

What would be the safest way to drop thousands of small, hard objects from a typical, high wing, GA airplane?

The subject pretty much states my question, now I will provide a bit of background. A family member, who lived on the west coast of Florida Manasota Key, collected tens of thousands of fossilized ...
33
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6answers
36k views

Why does the Boeing 737 have 5 x the passenger fatalities of the Airbus 320?

I thought I'd compare the accident rates of these two similar, competing, very successful aircraft. ...
33
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6answers
86k 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 ...
33
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4answers
9k views

How dangerous was this approach of a Dash8 Q400 really?

There is a video going viral here of a Dash8 landing during a recent media hyped storm: According to the description and imagery it is a Dash8 Q400 (registration D-...
32
votes
7answers
10k views

Have there been any incidents caused by an inability to shut down an engine?

I read many items on the avherald.com site where it says "engine shut down during flight" or words to similar effect. I'm wondering if there are any instances where an engine could not be shut down ...
32
votes
7answers
20k views

Why don't 747s use unreliable, but cheap, jet engines instead?

I'm a neophyte who was reading a little bit about jet engines, and the economics behind them. In particular, I was curious about what makes jet engines so expensive compared to piston engines. A ...
32
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6answers
6k views

What risks come from passengers taking baggage during emergency evacuation?

In recent news, the pilot of an aircraft that caught fire was chastising passengers for taking their luggage. What are the major concerns behind his criticism? I like to put this in context: All ...
32
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3answers
5k views

Why evacuate upwind?

Evacuation procedures after a forced landing recommend directing passengers upwind of the aircraft. What is the reason why evacuating upwind is better than other directions?
32
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1answer
7k views

Has anyone considered filling aircraft voids with helium to reduce the risk of fire?

Watching air crash investigations, and aware of problems with batteries, the issue of fire and sparking is recurrent. As a noble gas, pure helium would not burn, and if I understand correctly would ...
32
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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 ...
31
votes
4answers
7k views

How hazardous is it if an engine cowl falls off?

There was recently an incident where the engine cowl of the starboard engine of a United Airline's Boeing 777 fell off during flight: 'Scariest Flight of My Life.' United Airlines Made an Emergency ...