This is no.6 from the list of top ten fears our clients used to have. This was part of the newsletter series that we ran for several years.
Fear No.6 – Noises
There are all sorts of noises on aircraft. You have told us that the bings and bongs can be frightening. Many people think that they’re secret messages, which they’re not. This can simply be a member of cabin crew letting their colleagues know that they’d like to communicate with them, so they may be asking them to pick up the phone. It maybe that they’d like to ask something as simple as ‘have you got any more vegetarian meals available at your end of the aircraft?’ It makes much more sense to communicate by phone, than to run down the length of the aircraft to find out.
Engines too make unfamiliar noises during the different stages of the flight. One of the most frightening, according to what you tell us, are the engines at start-up.
First, one engine will start and then another etc. It may also change the sound of the air conditioning on the aircraft temporarily. These noises are all absolutely normal.
When the wings change to their ‘low-speed wing’ or high-speed wing, this also sounds like a humming that comes in and then fade out. It may not be something that you’re used to hearing regularly and so it can feel like it’s not normal. Please be assured that this too is totally normal.
You also have undercarriage noises. When the undercarriage doors open, it’s a little bit like opening the sunroof on your car. The noise will be louder than if it’s closed. When the undercarriage comes down or goes into the aircraft and clicks into place it also makes a ‘clunk’.
If you don't know what you are listening to, it can seem pretty daunting. We are here right now to tell you that all the noises you hear are normal. Even those funny creaking noises that the overhead lockers make during take off and landing. All is normal - they are meant to do that. They have been designed to flex and rattle a little.
You can do one of a couple of things if you fear the noises onboard an aircraft:
1. Ask a member of the crew what the noise is, if you are concerned about a noise you hear
2. Re-train your brain to say that the noises are normal. What you are hearing is over emphasized because you are in an alien environment. An environment where everything just happens without you doing anything or anyone consulting you!
Please remember, the noises onboard an aircraft are good. During our courses, we talk through the noises to reassure people that it is normal and explain exactly what they are, in order that when you’re next travelling by air, you’ll also recognise what they are and they then won’t appear to be frightening.
Paul and Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear