What to do and not to do in an Aviation Emergency

Discussion in 'T&AA - Travel and Anything Automotive' started by JD666, Aug 4, 2016.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    So after watching a recent video of passengers trying to get their hand luggage after an extremely fortunate emergency landing, spoiled my faith in humanity. It was infuriating to see how priorities in a moment of life and death were so skewered. The worst was the fact that women and children did not get a chance to move towards the exit, since people were trying to get their luggage.

    In their defense, the landing would have been traumatizing and scary as hell. It is a miracle the aircraft stayed intact, and they were able to evacuate before any loss of life.

    I firmly believe that when in any mode of transport, one should always be alert and on point. And especially more so when traveling with family and loved ones. There are some basic things that can be implemented and kept in mind next time.

    In no particular order -

    Be Alert, Be Aware and be ready to take action.Flying can be terribly boring and exhausting. Most people simply slump into their seats and doze off. They sleep thru the safety demo, they sleep thru take-off, and suddenly wake up once the aircraft has landed and come to a stop.

    As an Aircraft Engineer, I am familiar with some of the regular sounds and noises that come from an aircraft, and the irregular ones. So you can imagine the freaking out levels when I hear something unnatural in the cabin.

    I personally make it a point (irrespective of how tired I am) to be awake thru Take-off and until we reach cruising altitude. Critical phases of flight are take-off and landing. It is imperative to be alert and aware of your surroundings for that period of time.
    Same goes for when landing. I make it a point when the crew asks the passengers to set their seats upright and open the blinds to stay awake and alert.

    Know where your seat is, in relation to the nearest exit, forward and aft. At times landings can be such, that certain exits cannot be opened. You should know your alternate exit, in such a scenario. I make a habit to count seat rows to the nearest exits, so that in the event of total darkness/smoke, I can count my way to it.

    Have a plan in place. I look around, see the crowd around me, and make an mental note of who might be an issue during an emergency. Such people are not hard to spot. In an emergency, their indecisiveness can mean the difference between saving many and losing many.
    You might be needed to steer them around or guide them, vocally or physically even.

    Pay attention to the safety Demo. Cannot stress this enough. Unless you've flown the same aircraft a gazillion times, things and features vary between all types of aircraft. Especially if it's a different airline from your usual ones. For some type of aircraft, the exits that cannot be opened in a water landing, will be mentioned. Useful information.

    Listen to the crew and don't be a hero. Unless the crew manning your area is incapacitated or unable to control and direct the crowd. Cabin crew are trained to save your asses, not to serve you your drink as you want it mixed. Besides that fact that you should be polite and address them in your most decent voice, they are there to help evacuation of the aircraft in an emergency. Watch that video again. Despite what happened, the crew was directing the crowd, and ensuring they all jump on the slides.

    Don't travel in flip flops or beach slippers. Like seriously, not only is it visually annoying but also the first items that you'll lose in an emergency. And going down that slide can be painful for your feet/skin. More on that later.

    I prefer to travel in closed toe shoes as a minimum. On a long haul I might change into slippers after cruise, but never board or deplane wearing them. Having proper foot protection and grip can save you from burns, impaling your foot on something sharp, being trodden over, fingers stubbing something, etc etc etc. I think I've given enough reasons.

    Some evacuations, the crew might tell you to remove your footwear. Having socks on is still some protection than going barefoot.

    Wear proper clothing. Especially the Ladies. It's lovely to have a pretty girl sitting next to you all cute and charming in shorts and a tank top. But in the event of an emergency, it's probably going to be extremely painful.

    Here's a demo of the largest Airliner, the A380 for certification -

    Notice something? Most volunteers have full sleeve shirts and pants on. I saw similar videos where the volunteers were wearing work overalls or jumpsuits (no pun intended) for the slide test.

    Aircraft slides are an interesting engineering marvel. In roughly 3 seconds a 15-30 ft slide that is tightly packed in a space slightly bigger than a large suitcase, can inflate and stiffen for use.

    An ideal jump/slide is one where you leap onto the slide, with your hands around your shoulders, and not touching the slide. At the bottom of the slide, you'll be doing anything between 25-35 km/h. Long friction strips are installed (towards the end) to help slow you down.

    I've witnessed a few slide deployments in my line of work. Though most were unwarranted (deployed by mistake), the people who slide down them improperly have the same feedback.

    You can burn your skin, rip your trousers if you're not careful. An engineer managed to get a decent sized hole in his pants + burn his elbows + have a nasty slice of skin come off from one of his hands.

    Now imagine doing this in shorts/ganjis/vest/tank tops/dresses etc. You get the picture.

    Personal belongings should be on your person. In my case, I use a small sling bag, to hold my wallet, mobile, passport and other valuables. The rest, non-essential, replaceable goods go in the back pack. These are items that can be replenished, or replaced without great personal loss. A lot of people went bonkers looking for their stuff, partially for this reason. They want maximum space, maximum comfort, but such oversights can be deadly.

    It is instinctive to reach for a bag/purse when exiting a vehicle. However in an emergency, it could cause massive hold ups and delays.

    I'll add some more points as and when I can remember/think of some.


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