“This is your captain speaking” is a usual phrase heard by passengers during their flight. However, apart from the information on weather and a reminder on the warning to “fasten your seatbelts”, the pilots of line aircraft are usually not very loquacious. We wonder, what could they tell about if they had a chance?
The BBC Travel correspondent has requested help at the site of questions and answers, Quora, and asked working and former pilots, as well as some other specialists of the field, on the secrets they will never tell the passengers onboard the plane.
We forget to turn off the seatbelt warning
“When you look up at the sign (and disregard it typically) and it has been illuminated for the last 45 minutes in smooth air, we simply forgot”, tells a pilot of a US airline, who does not reveal the name.
Though, some pilots leave it during the whole flight intentionally, especially in case of messages on bad weather further along the route.
Do not drink the coffee onboard
That same anonymous pilot also advised the passengers to keep away from the brown liquid, meaning coffee.
“The potable water the aircraft is serviced with is absolutely disgusting”, he explains. “Chemicals are inserted into the water tanks to prevent bad things from growing, but the bad taste of the coffee isn't the coffee – it’s the chemicals”.
Turbulence is not such a big deal
While pilots always demand from the passengers to fasten their seatbelts, most of them do not get worried because of a few air bumps.
“Most crashes happen during takeoff or landing”, says the member of the Quora site, Joe Torres. “You can compare it to a speedboat travelling over water: the boat bounces as it goes over choppy water. Your plane isn't going to ‘fall’ out of the sky when it hits choppy air”.
Air traffic controllers are not to blame for flight delays
The traffic control specialist of the Federal Aviation Administration, Paul Cox, thinks that flight delays is the fault of airlines and not of the traffic control specialists.
“A standard, one-runway airport with well-designed taxiways can safely handle, in good weather, around 60 operations an hour – one per minute”, he explains.
According to Mr. Cox, the delays take place when the weather gets worse and the number of planes an airport can land decreases to 30, which leads to delays of other 30 flights. Instead of taking the weather forecasts into consideration, the airlines try to make as many flights as they can enter in the timetable.
We get paid less than you think
An anonymous pilot and a few other users of Quora also told that the salary of most beginner pilots is very low.
“While they carry immense responsibility for countless lives annually and have advanced training, they typically earn less than a preschool teacher”, wrote user David Carpe.
Another pilot, who did not wished to mention the name, told that a co-pilot in a regional airline of the USA generally does not receive more than $ 16,000 during the first working year.
We never want to say too much
“There is also an art to revealing just what’s going on without giving away TMI [too much information]”, tells pilot Eric Auxier, who has been working for a major airline since 1990.
“While I can’t exactly jump on the PA and say, ‘olks, pay no attention to the burning wing’, I also must avoid describing ad nauseum exactly what the mechanics onboard are fixing”.
Instead, he offers to provide a reassuring message, such as: “Our ace mechanics are onboard resetting one of our black boxes. We should be underway in a few minutes”.