5 Airplane Mysteries Debunked
Don’t you find it a little bit strange that a few years ago, all mobile devices were required to be switched off but today these can be not only left on but can be in use during take-off and landing?
Well I thought it would be a great idea to write an article on some of the requirements for take-off & landing and the real reason behind the air-hostess requesting that you keep that seat upright, among other things too. So here are 5 aircraft mysteries debunked for you to be an informed traveller.
Dimming of Cabin Lights:
Take-off and landing of aircraft is the most vulnerable and critical part of an aircrafts flight and every step needs to be taken that in the event of an incident, that the passengers have the best possible chance of survival.
The interior lights of the aircraft are adjusted to match the exterior lighting conditions to ensure that if there is an incident where one is required to exit the aircraft, your eyes are already adjusted to the lighting conditions outside of the plane.
If you need to go to the bathroom during the night and you flick the light switch on, wow does that not only hurt but it also takes a while for your eyes to adjust before you begin to regain your bearings. Well this is exactly the kind of delay that the airlines are trying to avoid in the case of an emergency.
Light dimming is most noticeable at dawn, dusk or night as at these times, the difference between interior and exterior lighting is at its highest. In addition to this, by dimming the interior lights, if an incident occurs, the emergency lighting located on the floor and at the exits is also clearer to identify for use in an emergency.
Seats in Upright Position:
As mentioned above, the most critical part of an aircraft’s flight is the take-off and landing, therefore in the event of an incident, passengers need their seats locked in place to reduce the possibility of being injured. When the seat is in a reclined position, by design it is not locked in place and in the case of a sudden stop or impact, the seat will shoot forward trying to eject you out like a catapult. This is not a great scenario should you be trying to avoid bad whiplash.
The second reason is the effective evacuation of passengers which can only be achieved when the seats are all in the upright position. If seats are reclined, the exit paths will not be uniform and this also restricts the space available for passengers to efficiently move out of the seating area to exit the plane.
Window Blinds Stay Open:
The real reason behind window blinds being left open is that the passengers actually fulfil a critical role in identifying any potential problems or hazards that can occur outside of the aircraft. Notice how almost all window seated passengers are intently staring out of the window during landing, well these people will be the first to alert the flight crew if something looks amiss out there. Types of hazards could be fuel leaks, damage to the aircraft or any potential problems that the pilot might not be aware of. He does not have super human power or 360 degree vision, so he needs some help.
An important consideration in an emergency situation is that one should always look out the window prior to using the emergency exit to ensure there are no fires or other hazards waiting for you on the other side of the door. This is a design and safety consideration which is why there are no window shades located on the emergency door.
Switching Mobile Devices off:
While mobile devices these days do not need to be switched completely off anymore, cabin crew members do often request that they are switched to Flight Mode. The reason for this is that there is a small potential that mobile devices still transmitting cellular signals may interfere with older aircraft’s on board electronics and cause problems for the pilot.
This is not really the case in modern aircraft as the really sensitive equipment is protected from radio waves emitted from personal electronic devices. The signals appear to be more of a nuance to the flight crew using headphones rather than a real risk to the safety of the aircraft as the signal registers as a beep similar to the one one would hear if a phone was held next to a speaker when sending or receiving messages.
Newer aircraft offer in-flight data services to allow passengers to stay connected during the flight but be aware that these are exorbitantly expensive and should not be used unless absolutely necessary.
Small Hole in Windows:
How about that little hole in the window, shouldn’t windows be sealed to be safe and what is its purpose? If you look out the window of an aircraft, you are actually looking through 3 layers and not just 2 as is appears. The outer and middle panes have the strength to bear the brunt of the pressure that is exerted on the fuselage with most of the pressure being naturally exerted on the outer layer as this is in direct contact with the exterior.
These holes’ are known as ‘bleed holes’ who’s primary function is to equalize the air pressure between the cabin and the air gap between the panes. If there were no hole, there would be a buildup of pressure between the panes that would cause fatigue and possible fracture in the long term.
Bleed holes are located in the middle pane and should the outer pane fail, the middle pane is designed to still be strong enough to maintain the cabin pressure even with a small hole in it. The aircraft pressure systems are more than capable of handling the losses to the external environment created by such a small hole.
So I hope this article debunked some of the mysteries of air travel and should you have any further questions related to features while travelling, leave these in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them as soon as possible.