Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Scary stuff out there waiting to worry you

Something that we say time and time again on our courses...'Be careful what you read/see and believe about aviation in the media.'

This is not meant to knock the media but they have to cover any potential good story that comes out and they have to get their stories out quickly.  Also, the media are not experts in everything and nor are we.  Except for aviation. 

We see stories all the time about aviation and most of the time they are inaccurate.   I saw the heading

'Two Planes Almost Collide at Barcelona Airport'

It was on Yahoo this morning when I turned on my computer.  As a non nervous flyer, I know that it is not quite right.  I watched the clip (which I suggest that you don't do unless you are fear free) and I saw a normal procedure called a 'go-around.'

This is where the pilots or air traffic control have decided it would be safer to not land at that moment and the aircraft takes off again. This can happen right up until the last minute and the pilots are ready, alert and prepared for it. 

Why would you perform a go around?

Air traffic control might tell you to as an aircraft hasn't cleared the end of the runway. It could be a vehicle is not quite clear of the runway.  This is all normal procedure.  The pilots in UK cannot land if anything is on the runway at all, even if the vehicle or aircraft is right at the far end of the runway.  Safety first always.   If a go around is decided upon, it is just like a take off and whilst it might sound dramatic to you (sudden engines revving up and taking off again) it is not an emergency.  The pilots practice it all the time in the simulator and are ready to do it. 

If you have ever been in an aircraft and this has happened, whilst maybe shocking, you were not in danger.  The biggest complaint nervous passengers have about commercial pilots is the lack of explanation over the PA when a go around occurs. Apologies on behalf of all pilots for this but they are busy flying the aircraft.  Also, because it is not an emergency for pilots to do this, some are not aware that it worries nervous flyers.

Here are a couple of images I have taken from the video footage. If you could put your curious head on rather than your nervous head, they are quite interesting to look at.  I understand that you won't want to look at them in case it makes you feel more nervous but part of beating a fear sometimes is about re-education. 

Picture 1.  Photographer cleverly gets many aircraft in same shot.  It all looks busy but they are separated by time, heading and distance.  Plus, carefully watched and controlled by air traffic control. Plus, all the pilots are looking out the windows to build a visual map of where everyone else is.

Picture 2.  The pilots have been watching this aircraft all the time. One of them will be talking to air traffic control saying, 'Is this aircraft going to be clear of the runway?'  They are ready to take off again. A normal procedure not an emergency.

Picture 3.  The pilots or air traffic control have called it and they are going to go around - as they were always planning and ready for on every landing.  You can just see the pitch of the aircraft starting to increase as they fly clear of the potential hazard.

Picture 4. They are now flying away as they prepared for. No emergency.

Hopefully, you found this useful? We have to be careful (as nervous flyers) to not read or watch much of what is in the media without some sort of filter built in - 'Whilst this seems shocking, what evidence do I have that it is dangerous?'

Take care
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic flying without fear

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks - saw this on the BBC website this morning and immediately thought of the talk on Sunday, explaining these media-exaggerated 'close calls'.