Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Fear of Flying?
November 27, 2007 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Professional Pilots Rumor Network is not recommended reading if you care to fly again. For example, you will discover that what was was initially described by the FAA as a "vibration in the No. 2 engine" was actually uncontained engine failure. Passengers who were on the flight could have told you that. Am I editorializing to say that I'm amazed that this forum is public?
posted by spock (45 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember finding a forum frequented by TSA screeners back when that guy wrote "Kip Hawley is an idiot" on a plastic bag. The horror, the horror.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:53 AM on November 27, 2007


Hmm, according to the people in the forum, an "uncontained" engine failure is a failure where parts of the engine fly out if it's "shell", but if you look at the pictures, it appears something flew into the engine, bounced out the front, and crashed through the nacelle.

So I don't really think you can call this an uncontained engine failure.
posted by delmoi at 8:57 AM on November 27, 2007


The BBC are reporting that Pablo Mason, the MYT capt. who allowed footballer Robbie Savage onto his flight deck during a private charter to try and help his fear of flying, has had his appeal against his sacking denied. Now i know there are rules, but come on. Where has common sense gone in this world??

Maybe the problem occurred when the Captain kept asking the footballer if he liked gladiator movies?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:06 AM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


From another thread: "when this happens the last thing you need is a journalist on board".
posted by spock at 9:09 AM on November 27, 2007


When I read that excerpt, miss lynnster, I keep focusing on "private", "footballer", and "sacking". Eww.

And delmoi, I'll bet the people on the plane were glad to know that it was not technically an uncontained engine failure :)
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on November 27, 2007


Am I editorializing to say that I'm amazed that this forum is public?

This is not logical, but it is often true.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:13 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm looking for the one where a passenger insisted that there was a man on the wing.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Last week I flew out of JFK to Vermont. While we were waiting to take off, the pilot made an announcement that the NY Fire Department was using a nearby airstrip as a training ground, and not to be alarmed if we saw smoke or flames. Sure enough, out the window you could see flames in the distance, spanning a couple dozen yards. Everyone seemed to have a good time watching the show.

It wasn't until after takeoff that I realized that JFK would certainly NEVER allow drills like that to occur at 5 pm on a Friday, the weekend before Thanksgiving.
posted by hermitosis at 9:20 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thankfully I'm too lazy to dig through the forums to find anything really scary.
posted by slogger at 9:20 AM on November 27, 2007


I like that they refer to passengers as "self-loading freight."
posted by skullbee at 9:25 AM on November 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


the MYT capt. who allowed footballer Robbie Savage onto his flight deck during a private charter to try and help his fear of flying, has had his appeal against his sacking denied

Allowing Robbie Savage anywhere on company property should be sufficient reason for firing.
posted by yerfatma at 9:26 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like that they refer to passengers as "self-loading freight."

I imagine that such disdain is endemic to skilled/technical jobs that involve a lot of customer contact; it certainly is in tech support.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:28 AM on November 27, 2007


This sort of thing would scare me more if my own anecdotal experiences flying came remotely close to matching the number of times I came *this* close to massive accidents and death while driving.
posted by MillMan at 9:32 AM on November 27, 2007


Thing to remember is that airlines have an impeccable safety record. If only driving and crossing the street were so safe.

The fact that the industry maintains these safety numbers in the face of engine failures and the like is testament to the skills of all the people involved.

I'm not afraid to fly.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:42 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like that they refer to passengers as "self-loading freight."

That reminds me of a flight attendant tell all book that revealed that farting slowly and hopefully silently as the FA walked down the aisle was referred to as "crop dusting."
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:54 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like that they refer to passengers as "self-loading freight."

I think if I saw something crash through the engine I would indeed be self-loading.
posted by briank at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm flying across the Atlantic next week - thanks a lot :-( anyone spare some Valium?
posted by janetplanet at 10:18 AM on November 27, 2007


I was popping Valium on a plane from Las Vegas once, and I was absolutely the worst guy on the plane, talking real loud with headphones on, swearing, demanding booze, etc. I don't take Valium anymore, because it seems to externalize my tension, making everyone around me nervous and annoyed.
posted by Mister_A at 10:34 AM on November 27, 2007


What afrobianco said.
posted by Miko at 10:42 AM on November 27, 2007


I once was on a plane that caught fire. It was a really small plane (75 people maybe), for a flight that was no longer than an hour and a half. Apparently what happens is that the brakes & landing gear on one side of the plane caught fire when the landing gear was lowered for the touch down.

Anyway, the thing that was really bad was that the pilots did not know we were on fire! As we were passing the tower they radioed our pilots and said to use a emergency runway (far away from the rest of the airport...it even had grass growing in the pavement). I still cant believe that our pilots did not know about the 3x3x8' pillar of fire coming from our wing.

To top it off, i never want to be in a bad accident, because the airlines attempts to instill calmness basically surmounted to an attendant repeating "please do not take your luggage with you when we get off", nothing about a fire, or what was happening just that stupid line over and over. None the less Everyone on the flight insisted on taking luggage, or even stopping in the aisles blocking people while asking "should i take my bags or not?" After that, i was seperated from my the rest of the party (as we went off different emergency slides on the opposite sides of the plane). They wouldn't let us go around the plane to see who was where. Finally at the end of all this they put us all inside a wing of the small airport, pulled the gate down and locked us in for almost two hours. Basically they wanted to get the PR in order before we went out and told people.

Happy flights :-)
posted by Black_Umbrella at 10:51 AM on November 27, 2007


It's not general practice to check the rear-view mirror very often on an airplane. Mostly because there isn't one. So it's totally understandable that the pilot would miss the fire that is burning way behind and underneath him.

The A380 does have a camera at the top of the tail, though, which is nice.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:08 AM on November 27, 2007


"vibration in the No. 2 engine"

I had a vibration in my "Number Two engine" earlier, but I "offloaded some freight" and that fixed it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:42 AM on November 27, 2007


If you're nervous about flying, this collection of photos isn't going to help.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:41 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like that they refer to passengers as "self-loading freight."

Especially when the passengers call the pilot a "meat servo".
posted by jet_silver at 12:47 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


when the passengers call the pilot a "meat servo"

And the flight attendants "sky waitresses."
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:54 PM on November 27, 2007


On a semester abroad trip a decade or so ago, we were flying on an overnight from Chicago to Glasgow. Halfway through the flight somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic, those of us awake realized a stowaway had appeared in the fuselage.

A bat was making frantic circles through the the coach cabin divebombing half asleep and half drunk college students. it made for an exciting period of time as one of the pilots or flight engineers tried to catch it with his coat. We were told unless it was caught and "disposed of properly" we would be allowed to land due to quarantine issues.

After much hand waving and a lucky catch, there was the sound of a wrench smacking the floor a few times in the galley and then a "thank you for flying United, we can now continue on" from the cockpit. Not sure that was anything ever practiced in the flight simulators.

Weirdest flight I have ever been on.
posted by karmaville at 1:49 PM on November 27, 2007


That reminds me of a flight attendant tell all book that revealed that farting slowly and hopefully silently as the FA walked down the aisle was referred to as "crop dusting."

That has long been one of my favorite little phrases. It cracks me up. One of my best friends is an Austrian flight attendant and when I told her about it she laughed her head off. So now it's being used internationally.

Wasn't this the book it was in? I read it a long time ago.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:07 PM on November 27, 2007


miss lynnster: I think it was this one.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 2:42 PM on November 27, 2007


Oh, right! I forgot about that one. Not that I'm obsessed with flight attendant memoirs, I just always love reading behind-the-scenes scoops on stuff.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:55 PM on November 27, 2007


My dad knows a guy who has been in three plane crashes, each of which involved fatalities. PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION: Should this man continue to fly, because the odds are staggeringly against his being in yet another crash? Or should this man conclude that he is cursed, and never fly again?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:44 PM on November 27, 2007


Flying is fundamentally very safe, it's the air traffic control that terrifies me. The skies are more congested than ever, the antiquated control systems are overwhelmed, controllers are being overworked, and the FAA is as badly mismanaged as FEMA. Why, just within this month (from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association):

11/19/07: SECOND SERIOUS INCIDENT IN FOUR DAYS AT CHICAGO CENTER SHOWS FAA SACRIFICING SAFETY MARGIN BY OVERWORKING FATIGUED CONTROLLERS
11/15/07: FAA VIOLATES CONTROLLER REST LAW, CAUSING NEAR COLLISION
11/12/07: PALM BEACH AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS AVERT DISASTER OVER SOUTH FLORIDA SKIES

There's plenty more fun over at The FAA Follies and the PASS website.
posted by malocchio at 3:51 PM on November 27, 2007


Two experiences have led me to believe that airlines routinely lie about safety issues. The first occurred on a delayed flight to National in DC from the Twin Cities on NWA. The agents kept telling us the flight was delayed because a crew member was late. While I was standing at the desk asking about the delay, the agent took a call, and I watched her write on a spare ticket jacket the word "FLAPS", underlined and in all caps. Thinking it odd, I mentioned it to the guy next to me when I sat down. He looked at me said "I'm booking a different flight," and left. I took the flight. 30 minutes outside of DC we were told the flight was being diverted to Dulles as they had a longer runway and they had just discovered that the flaps weren't working. The runway at Dulles was lined with fire trucks and emergency medical vehicles with their lights flashing. I couldn't tell if they had laid down fire retardant or not, but I was kinda sure that this wasn't just some strange coincidence.

The second event happened more recently. Same airline, SFO to MSP. Through the little slits in the jetway I could see fluid running out of the plane. I thought it must be waste water or something. We got on the plane, and after sitting there past the departure time, we were told by the captain that there was a discrepancy in the fuel readings and that they had to rebalance the tanks. Later, after another half-hour delay, he said they were having trouble getting the valve open on the filler and had to call the smarter mechanics in Minneapolis to help solve the problem of how to fill the fuel tank. Maybe that wasn't fuel I saw leaking out of the plane, but I find the coincidence unlikely.

They lie, lie, lie.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:52 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


because the odds are staggeringly against his being in yet another crash

His odds of being in a plane crash are exactly the same as yours and mine. If you flip a coin and get heads ten times in a row that's an uncommon result, but the odds of getting heads on the next toss are still 50%.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:05 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION: Should this man continue to fly, because the odds are staggeringly against his being in yet another crash? Or should this man conclude that he is cursed, and never fly again?

I'm no philosopher, but TATWD has given you a scientific answer. Were the first option you give true, then one would have figured that his odds of being in a third crash, after two would be slim – yet it happened. I'm not sure that everyone will like your binary either/or options however. Why, for example, might he not conclude that he is not cursed, but blessed at having survived three times when others did not?
posted by spock at 4:22 PM on November 27, 2007


I like Laurie Anderson's idea for flight safety:

Pack a bomb aboard with you, because everyone knows that it's extremely rare for a terrorists to get on board with a bomb so, you know, what are the chances that there'd be two bombs on board? Why, next to impossible, ergo you're super-safe!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:37 PM on November 27, 2007


His odds of being in a plane crash are exactly the same as yours and mine. If you flip a coin and get heads ten times in a row that's an uncommon result, but the odds of getting heads on the next toss are still 50%.

This is assuming, of course, that plane crashes involving your dad's friend are independent events.
posted by pravit at 6:38 PM on November 27, 2007


Quantum immortality. He'll survive every plane crash. And so will all of us.
posted by BackwardsCity at 6:54 PM on November 27, 2007


Pack a bomb aboard with you, because everyone knows that it's extremely rare for a terrorists to get on board with a bomb so, you know, what are the chances that there'd be two bombs on board?

About a month ago a dozen apartments in my complex burned to the groud. Right across from the leasing office. They only just tore them down last week, and I wondered how it was affecting the leasing until I had a similar thought, "Well, what's the chance of it happening here again anytime soon? Here. Sign this."

I flew a lot as a kid and was always fine with it. Then there was a period where planes seemed to be falling out of the sky that coincided with my maturing realization that aviation in general is basically blind trust in the laws of physics coupled with the unspoken knowlegde of just how badly those laws are going to punish you if some jagoff forgets a rivet. Then I became a bit of a jittery flyer.

Then I turned 21 and could drink on the plane, so I became cool with it again.
posted by Cyrano at 7:18 PM on November 27, 2007


FYI, airplanes are designed for dealing with the kind of engine failure in the FPP. The failure itself is that the disk of fan blades ruptures and everything goes flying out in all directions, sort of like swing chairs on a merry go round. So first the engine cowling has we-hope-it-doesnt-fail-but-just-in-case band of steel surrounding the fan disk. Then the fuselage itself of the airplane (where the seats are) has a reinforced band where the loose blades would hit if flung straight out.

That said, I'd never want to be on a plane that tested that design ...

Disclaimer: it's been a looong time since I studied this stuff, and I've forgotten all the jargon
posted by intermod at 7:30 PM on November 27, 2007


PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION: Should this man continue to fly, because the odds are staggeringly against his being in yet another crash? Or should this man conclude that he is cursed, and never fly again?

Maybe he's unbreakable?
posted by maxwelton at 7:40 PM on November 27, 2007


I always regret not riding the roller coaster in West Edmonton Mall immediately after it opened after its big accident. There would have been no safer rollercoaster in the world during that first week.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:20 PM on November 27, 2007


intermod, the containment band is not steel (at least on the big high-bypass engines like the ones on the 777) but a carbon-fiber composite. Kevlar, I think - lighter and tougher than steel.
posted by Quietgal at 8:52 PM on November 27, 2007


This is how I look at it:

Think of driving--if you or anyone near you closes their eyes for five seconds, you are probably dead. Yet you go out on the road almost every day of your life and drive on crowded roads full of random people. Think of it: one 5 second mistake out of 10 million of your driving lifetime and you are dead.

A pilot can get up out his seat and go into the back of the plane and use the bathroom, come back, flirt with the stewardesses a bit, then go back to his seat. No sweat.

I'd rather fly.
posted by eye of newt at 9:54 PM on November 27, 2007


I'm driving a Hum2 and sprung for the airbag package. I can close my eyes for minutes without worrying about being hurt.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 PM on November 27, 2007


I asked a flight attendant the other day, just how hard to pull the tube from the oxygen mask. I've always wondered about that. He said "You'll find out, one day." Apparently, decompression at some point is expected. Myself, I think what I'll likely find out, in the excitement, is how to pull the thing out of its mounting.

I used to be a nervous flier. I'm getting over that. The photos of the accidents mostly made me hurt for the $$$ in damages to the planes. Nervous I may be, but I love planes!
posted by Goofyy at 5:06 AM on November 28, 2007


« Older Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives:...  |  A two-ton 21-mpg 8-passenger V... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments