Everyone knows the pre-flight airline safety announcements…. What you should and should not do on the flight, as well as what to do in an emergency. But would it not be better if the truth was thrown in also for a more realistic airline safety announcements.
As a little bit of fun, it just might go a little like this….
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are very welcome abroad your flight today, on board this (insert aircraft type here) series aircraft.
To fasten your seatbelt …. In fact if anybody by now does not know how to fasten their seatbelt please leave the plane now, as you don’t deserve to be on a plane.
This aircraft has 8 emergency exits – 2 at the front , one left , one right , 2 at the rear , one left , one right and 4 over wing exits 2 left , 2 right. It should be fun watching all 300 of ye scrambling for a gap barely able to fit one person , especially if the wings are on fire and you have to find an alternate exit.
In the sudden loss of cabin pressure, at about 39,000 feet, your lungs may puncture and blood vessels on your skin will burst almost immediately being exposed to a huge pressure difference no to mention temperatures as cold as -50 C. Oxygen masks will drop from the panel above your heads. If you are still conscious , pull on the mask to start the flow of oxygen. Stop screaming, place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. Oxygen will continue to flow even if the bag is not fully inflated. Oh by the way, there’s only about 12 minutes of oxygen in those passenger tanks, sorry!
In the unlikely event of us landing on water (very unlikely as our journey today is 90% over land today and in all probability we will be landing sideways in a field going at 670kph) … your life jacket is under your seat. Plunging at speed towards the ground, the G Forces of 8 G mean the in all reality you will not even be able to reach for your lifejackets as your body will weigh 8 times its normal weight. If you do manage to get them place it over your head, tie the straps at the front. Do not inflate the lifejacket inside the aircraft as this will jam you into your seat and you will just have to watch all the sensible people leave the aircraft from your seat.
The lifejackets has a light and a whistle to attract attention …. as if 3 miles of burning wreckage won’t get you enough attention.
Please read the safety card in your seat pocket for further reassurance.
We hope you enjoy your flight.”
I don’t think this new style airline safety announcement will take-off (excuse the pun).
In truth, the airline safety record these days is very good and millions of people travel on aircraft without incident. I love flying and I never fear going on a flight, quite the opposite. The above actually came to me on a flight so it is actually dark humour on my part.
The British Airways test flight which was conducted yesterday seems to have landed without any evidence of damage from volcanic ash. The BA Boeing 747 jumbo landed at the British Airways maintenance facility in Cardiff with BA chief executive Willie Walsh on board. The aircraft flew for more than two hours, up to an altitude of about 40,000 feet which would be approximately the standard cruising altitude of this aircraft. No damage has been found in the engines due to the ash cloud and a more detailed technical analysis is being undertaken to confirm the initial findings of the BA Test Flight. However NATO say that F-16 jets which flew through the ash cloud had suffered engine damage.
Commercial airlines around Europe are now looking at the British Airways test flight to see if this may see flights resuming again in European Airspace which is costing about €150m per day and some airlines might have to close as a result of this major issue, combined with the recent recessionary problems faced by the European airlines.
This is now longer than the 9/11 closure of airspace and it is really unusual to look into the sky and not see any contrails.
The decision to close airspace was made in the interest of customer safety, but could the aircraft have flown below 20,000ft or could there have been reduced altitude short haul flights from Dublin to lets say Manchester or Liverpool, London to Paris in order to to ease the burden.
There are probably many people wondering “When can I fly again?” but with the weather set to change on Friday hopefully this will push the ash to the East and clear some airspace around the UK and Ireland. But with the possibility of the volcano continuing for months or even years this air dissruption will be just another thing to get used to.
Airports, including Heathrow, Belfast, and the main airports in Scotland and Norway are facing massive disruption for the next 24-48 hours as ash from Iceland’s volcanic eruption moves towards UK airspace. Transatlantic flights through UK airspace are also badly affected.
Following advice from the UK Met Office, the National Air Traffic Service introduced these restrictions to UK airspace as a result of volcanic ash drifting across the United Kingdom from Icelands recent volcanic activity.
The European air safety body, Eurocontrol, said the cloud of ash had reached 55,000ft and was expected to move through northern UK & Scotland by 1300BST today.
The Jakarta Effect
The restrictions were necessary because volcanic ash can damage aircraft engines and other instruments.
On June 24th, 1982 a British Airways 747, Speedbird 9, was on its way over Jakarta in Indonesia when Capt. Eric Moody made the following address to the 247 passengers on board;
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are all doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”
After unknowingly flying through a plume of volcanic ash, all four engines shut down one by one. Another side effect of flying through the ash for BA Speedbird 9 was that the windscreen of the aircraft was effectively sandblasted and they could only see through a small unaffected strip at the bottom of the window. It also blocked the pitot tubes which resulted in a 50 knot difference on the left and right airspeed indicators.
As they decended below FL29 (29,000 feet), they started trying to restart the engines, as per their training and their understanding of the 4 Rolls Royce engines standard operating procedures; Not expecting that the engines would restart. They continued to decend through 14,000 feet and ast they did they were able to get engine #4 restarted. followed by engine #3. About 2 minutes into the sequence, engines #1 and #2 came back on-ilne.
Jakarta ATC cleared them for a visual landing, as there was no way the flight could continue to its destination. They landed safely only using instruments and the 2-inch strip of clear glass to land the jumbo.
There was a nearly identical incident on 15th December 1989 when KLM Flight 867, a B747-400 travelling between Amsterdam to Anchorage, Alaska, flew throught a plume of volcanic ash from the erupting Mount Redoubt, again. causing all four engines to fail.
The effect of volcanic ash contaminating an engine is called “The Jakarta Effect” after the problems BA Flight 9 / Speedbird 9 had over Jakarta back in 1982.
Below is a video from Air Crash Investigation which shows the problems of BA Flight 9 in 1982.
So if you can’t travel today then there is an actual reason and its down to “The Jakarta Effect”.
The hero pilot, Captain Sullenberger, who landed his Airbus 320 safely on the Hudson River, in New York, on Jan 15 2009 has retired after 30 years. Captain Sullenberger, 59, officially retired at a private ceremony in Charlotte after flying his last commercial gig, Flight 1167 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida – landing 17 minutes ahead of schedule. Captain Sullenberger also flew with the same co-pilot as during the Hudson landing of US Airways Flight 1549, First Officer Jeff Skiles. Also on board were some of the same passengers that were on Flight 1549 to celebrate his final flight. If you don’t know the history of Flight 1549 and the amazing landing on the Hudson, check out the video below.
The incident with 2 Northwest pilots which took place on October 21, 2009 has escalated. The Federal Aviation Administration has now announced the indefinite suspension of the licenses of the pilots of Northwest Flight 188. Captain Timothy Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole have now been suspended after using laptops on the flight and missing the runway by 150 miles. (And people complain about Ryan Air flying miles outside the destination!)
Northwest Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis on October 21, 2009 failed to land at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as scheduled and overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles. Once the problem was noticed the pilots had to circle back to land. (See below)
The pilots have denied that they were asleep, drunk or arguing at the controls. They claim that they were in a heated debate about a new pilots scheduling system which was in use following the merger of Delta and Northwest airlines back in 2008.
The FAA will be using the results from the inflight data recorder – however since this only records 30 to 60 minutes of data this might be a problem.
Northwest Airlines has offered the 144 passengers of Flight 188 travel vouchers of $500 as compensation.