With increasing number of flight routes, most of us may have taken the aerial route, to reach our destination in the shortest possible times. Despite of being a frequent flier you are asked to follow some boring, uncomfortable and at times nonsensical procedures while you are in the aircraft. I have had many people asking me this question on numerous occasions.
So here is my attempt to answer the frequently asked ones:
1. Why do they dim the cabin lights while take off and landing at night, but not during the day?
Yes, it appears really strange. So me think it is because the aircraft requires maximum power to take off and land so they use every bit they got. While another strange theory I have heard is, some people are scared during take off and landing, so switching off the lights help them sleep and avoid the tensed moments. Well, these answers sure are good for a laugh, but are not true.
The flight dimming procedure is one of the many safety procedures that the crew undertakes. The crew is trained to ensure quick response in case of emergency or crash landings and hence had to assumptively stay prepared for it. They continue to follow these procedures for years together, though nothing may happen, eventually. In case the aircraft has to perform an emergency landing, the passengers and crew have precisely 90 seconds to evacuate the craft. At night, if the cabin lights are on and plane crashes there is every possibility that the lights may go off. Now, we all know that our eyes takes some time to adjust to dark and see clearly. This may take some precious time off the evacuation procedure and can be life threatening. Since the take off and landing procedures is the most vulnerable to malfunctions and mistakes with least time on hand. This process is followed during this period and the logic is vice versa during the day time.
2) Why do they ask us to lift the window blinds, during take off and landing?
The reason is the same as mention in point number 1. At night when the window blinds are open and the cabin lights are switched off, your eyes adapt to the darker environment and you will be able to take immediate evasive action during an emergency landing. During the day, open window blinds will only help eyes adapt to the light outside. So if during a crash land, you are exposed to immediate day light, your eyes will not take time to adapt and you can save yourself and others too.
The other reasons also being that most passengers are curious and to pass time they look outside the window. If they see any abnormality, like sparks or flames they are quick to inform the crew and the captain can take immediate action. Historically, there have been times that quick reporting by passengers have saved lives in the aircraft.
Also, the blinds are open so that the crew can instantly look out for the conditions outsides, to guide the passengers during evacuation.
3) Why the airline crew spray aerosol in the aircraft before the boarding starts?
Air crafts carry people and baggages from one country to another and also arrive from countries and locations which are ridden by some disease or disease causing insects. Use of Aerosol, helps eliminate the possibility of spread of diseases. So much is it being recommended that airlines have now started doing it as a routine in some countries.
4) Why does the seats of the aircraft have to be in upright thus uncomfortable position.
You are right, it sure is an uncomfortable position. Though it beats most of us, the Physics behind this is very simple. When a seat is in upright position it is locked, while when it reclines it is not locked. In an event of a crash during takeoff or landing, an unlocked seat will have more force during impact and thrusting of the seat forward will lead to far fatal injuries than when the seat is in upright position.
Another important reason being, a reclined seat will give your head more distance to travel before an impact leading to fatal injuries. The extra distance of 3 to 5 inches can add to a whiplash of an effect and can be deciding factor between life and death.
Also, when your seat is reclined the passenger behind you does not get enough space to brace himself. Since most accidents happen during take off and landings and has lesser reaction time, it has become a mandatory safety requirement that are audited by the crew before take off and landing.
5) Why do they ask us to close the tray, even though I may have kept something on it?
I am surprised that we may go so far and take things for granted to this extent. Though air travel is the safest mode of traveling and especially in India where you have the least mishaps in aviation, you have to prepare for contingencies. Just imagine moving at a pace of more than 150 kmph, when the pilot realizes a need to abort and steps on the brakes. your body is hurled forward, only for the seat belt to hold your lower body back.
However, your upper body is free to sway and since you have the tray open, your upper abdomen crashed in the the tray, causing internal injuries. For all those who have their trays closed, will most likely get away unharmed, except for the ones who don’t and will need to visit the operation theater, 4 out of 5 times.
I have managed to cover most of the science behind the uncomfortable, stereotypical formalities behind every take off and landings. I am sure after reading this, you would proactively adhere to these norms, since they are made for your safety… If you have more such queries about flight safety, precautions to take while traveling to India and many others, you can send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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