View Full Version : If you EVER travel as an airline passenger, please read this.

12th Sep 2008, 15:54
Link (http://www.pprune.org/4388872-post80.html)


12th Sep 2008, 16:06
I have to say that I have ALWAYS paid attention to safety briefings,yeah I know that lots of folks reckon they are boring but hey you just never know when you're going to wish you had paid attention to what the FA had said instead of reading the in flight magazine.

12th Sep 2008, 16:08
Thanks for the link Juud, that was certainly worth reading! :ok:

12th Sep 2008, 16:08
excellent read, for me, surely the best post I've seen on PPRUNE

12th Sep 2008, 16:34
DC(/MD80 briefings have always said that the tail cone is operated bya crew member. What if the crew member is incapacitated?

The, same aircarft, different airline.

BA Airbus. Overwing exit, eject door through hatch.

America West, American. place door on seat.

Why the inconsistency?

A319, A320. landing on water, leave through overwing exit. A321 (different CoG) leave through all exits.

All of which enforces the point Jude makes - watch and listen to the briefing.

But it would help if the oxygen masks briefing stated that if they deployed, there would be a sudden descent. It might allay some PAX fears.

how about mandatory ejection if PAX can't answer a simple exam on the saftey briefing? I've been accused of being a sad individual for being word perfect on the BA safety briefing - although God knows, I've heard it often enough.

12th Sep 2008, 16:40
Agree with it all with one caveat: What of the FA who look on the safety briefing as their audition for stand-up comedy slot on Letterman?

12th Sep 2008, 18:14
radeng, that post was not written by me.
More's the pity....
The reason I am highlighting it here on JB is because it explains better than I have ever seen it explained, the reasons why we want our pax to watch that briefing.

Davaar, I understand and respect your caveat.
Do you understand that most often the reason some FAs do this is NOT because they 'aspire to Letterman', but because they have learnt from experience that an alternative text served with some humour will greatly increase the number of pax paying attention?
As research has shown, the more people pay attention, the more people will be able to save their own lives in a real emergency.

Some of us find (to some pax cringeworthy) humour a reasonably price to pay for that.

12th Sep 2008, 18:21
I don't disagree at all. The one I have in mind particularly though, to be accurate, long pre-dated Letterman and was not well-chosen. Then again, there are many facets of aviation safety that are daily ignored.

Evening Star
12th Sep 2008, 18:58
Excellent read. Just one quibble is that are we here not preaching to the converted? I mean, SLF visiting PPRuNe are more likely to understand why one should listen (and in case that sounds pompous, please be reassured that I did follow the link and found it very informative). Link more urgently needs giving to the arrogant tw*ts who hold up their newspaper and shuffle it ostentatiously to say 'I am a frequent flyer'.:ugh:

BTW radeng, if you want consistency try some ancient TU-154 with canvas slides, first SLF goes down the rope and holds slide taunt, all instructions in Russian and one is the SLF with foot on box containing the slide. Was very careful I understood but do wonder how many others would be as conscientious.:eek:

12th Sep 2008, 19:15
I am told that in a fire or even just a liot of heat, artificial fibres melt into the flesh and cause aggravated trauma as contrasted with, say, cotton as per underwear and clothing. For that reason I tend to wear jeans when I am flying. Can anyone speak to this, Yes or No, with authority?

12th Sep 2008, 19:25
I tend to wear jeans when I am flying. Can anyone speak to this, Yes or No, with authority?

I have never yet had reason to doubt your word, Davaar, so, yes, I am sure you do wear jeans when flying.

Waits for incoming ... :uhoh:

12th Sep 2008, 19:51
Can anyone speak to this, Yes or No, with authority?

Apparently yes and no.

I don't profuse to know anything about the subject of burning materials, but this site seems to make sense when it basically says you can add exciting stuff to Nylon to make "Nylon 66" .... which, apparently, is less flammable than Cotton.

Re: What kind of fabrics are fire retardant and what are their charecteristics (http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2000-03/951958662.Ch.r.html)

edit : ok, perhaps on reflection nylon not be the best man made fibre to use as an example (it probably still will melt and stick no matter what you put into it). But as man made fibres go, I suggest you do some reading on what goes into an F1 drivers shellsuit.... it's not all cotton :ok:

12th Sep 2008, 20:22

As ever, a good call, many thanks! :D:D:D

Before joining Pprune, I was a paper-rattler, frequent-flyer Knob!

Now, I listen and watch. In fact the first thing I do when getting to my seat, is to read the Emergency Instructions just to know what sort of aircraft I'm on and which way to head when it all goes LBU.

Good like with President Eisenhower, Juud, thinking of you. ;);)


12th Sep 2008, 20:54
Ecellent post/link, Juud, many thanks.

As SLF I have for the last 10 years realised the importance of the safety briefing and usually make eye contact with the CC so that they know that at least I am paying full attention!

Why the change in habit? Well, I'm only a humble PPL flying balloons but I also have my rules and regs to follow and that includes an effective preflight safety briefing for my passengers. Unlike the CC, though, I can and have indicated that if my passengers would rather chatter exitedly to their friends than listen to me I'm fine with that.

Except they will be doing so on the ground while the rest of us are enjoying our flight! Works every time.....


12th Sep 2008, 21:02
The reason that we as aircrew pay close attention to the safety briefings, is because we are acutely aware of the implications of not doing so, in the case of things going pear shaped.
Thats what expensive, annual CRM/SEPT courses teach us after all.

SLF are unaware of the implications of not knowing what to do, I bet that if the auto preflight safety demo, screened film footage of planes crashing and passengers burning to death trapped inside an aircraft, it would get their attention, and ensure that everyone on board payed close heed to the safety demo.

Obviuosly the marketing people and other jam-stealer types who run airlines would not stand for that so I guess we are stuck with the status quo.

12th Sep 2008, 21:54
The reason that we as aircrew pay close attention to the safety briefings, is because we are acutely aware of the implications of not doing so,

But does this careful thinking, which I applaud, take note of, perhaps, how far the fire brigade must go, how many traffic lights it must encounter, how many multi-lane highways it must cross, all to reach from firestation to the outer perimeter of the airport at ..................., and how long all this takes from alarm to arrival as measured against the stopwatch ?

12th Sep 2008, 22:02
Although I have no empirical evidence I'm convinced that when you're asked at Tesco whether you want 'help with your packing' and you answer 'no, it's ok thanks' then they push that stuff through just that little bit faster than they would otherwise...

12th Sep 2008, 22:45
DL has done the trick with its safety briefing video. Hard not to ignore - anyone who has flown with them lately will know what I mean.:ok:;)

Howard Hughes
12th Sep 2008, 22:50
Can anyone speak to this, Yes or No, with authority?
My standard flying attire is jeans, polycotton shirt (at least 80% cotton), cotton undies, wool socks. I watch the safety briefing and count the exact number of rows to the 'nearest exit', that way if needed you can count the seats by feel to the exit.

It is my understanding that in the majority of accidents, more peole are killed in the aftermath fire, smoke, etc... Than by the impact!

west lakes
12th Sep 2008, 23:08

Most of you will probably know what I do for a living

This is what happens when it goes wrong (and this isn't worst case)

YouTube - Arc Blast (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEX2-npA6vU&feature=related)

YouTube - Electrical Arc Flash (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX9ktjqcMvM)

We are issued with, and have to wear, Nomex arc resistant clothing and are told
Not to wear any synthetics underneath it at all, just pure cottons, wool or silk
In fact we are told (and have seen demos) that it is safer to wear nothing underneath the Nomex than synthetics.
All other uniform clothing is either cotton of flame retardant (including yellow jackets/waterproofs)
The same applies in any fire

Similarly the friction of using an emergency slide can have an effect on synthetics

(though I have heard that some airlines issue staff with uniform clothing made from synthetics-which could be rather unsafe)

13th Sep 2008, 04:03
I am told that in a fire or even just a liot of heat, artificial fibres melt into the flesh and cause aggravated trauma as contrasted with, say, cotton as per underwear and clothing. For that reason I tend to wear jeans when I am flying. Can anyone speak to this, Yes or No, with authority?

I can, actually. Yes, synthetics will melt against your skin and cause a lot of damage...and will have to be removed from your flesh, once melted there. Synthetics burn very readily, and propagate a flame. That is, they feed and sustain a flame.

Nomex also burns (ask me how I know), and it also melts...but it doesn't sustain a flame once the flame source has been removed.

Much of my flying career has been in a capacity directly involved to a LOT of fire, and has required the wearing of full fire protective gear while flying...and even put me on the ground during a very big, very active fire following an engine failure, a couple of years ago. I've had nomex burn off around my head and around self contained breathing apparatus gear during very hot fire conditions...and melt, as well as the gear itself, such as the mask and rubber holding the mask, bubble and craze and even melt.

Synthetics do melt.

You'll hear horror stories about them melting when you go down the slide. This isn't too likely, but I suppose in theory could be possible...you can certainly get a slight "rope burn" or friction burn, which generally won't cause melting (though it may hurt a little). On a long slide you have a higher chance of hurting an ankle at the bottom or tripping over someone else, than worrying about clothing on the slide.

13 please
13th Sep 2008, 09:30
The thought of synthentic materials melting from the heat or the friction of the emergency slide, frequently enters my head, as I'm sat at my door for take-off or landing, in my lovely nylons.....

13th Sep 2008, 10:13
Wool or felt is reasonably good, I believe - at one time, firemen's clothing was felted wool.

Juud, the point I was trying to get across is that even on the same type of aircraft, different carriers have different procedures, so paying attention is important.

Eject the paper rattlers, the talkers and the sleepers. And, importantly, the dead heading flight crew who show a really bad example by ignoring the briefing.

13th Sep 2008, 11:04
How safe, in friction or fire or heat conditions, is tanned leather (or tanned fur with leather side out, hair on body side for padding/insulation)?

13th Sep 2008, 11:28
Not much if you belt in at 400 miles an hour I'd wager.

13th Sep 2008, 14:47
If you crash into the ground @ 400 knts you will die. But as an airline pax in a survivable crash two main factors apply.
(1) If the initial impact breaks your legs and/or arms you will be unable to move to an exit and will die in the subsequent fire.
(2) If your clothing is unable to protect you from fire & smoke during the escape attempt you may still die from burns & smoke inhalation.
During my time in the RAF we had backward facing pax seats, and no one wore any kind of synthetic clothing.
Most airlines however reccommend the "brace position" where the head is placed between the knees and against the seat back in front. This is because deceleration forces in a crash will decapitate an unsupported head. Even if your head remains attached, you will need to have full use of your legs and arms to stand any chance of moving to the escape exits in thick smoke. So you should ensure that your legs are braced aganst something solid, and arms wrapped tightly around your legs to reduce flailing during the impact forces. You will of course have soaked your coat or sweater with water from the bottle you always take with you on your flights. This water soaked item is placed over your head, and in front of your nose during the escape phase to enable you to breathe.

13th Sep 2008, 15:44
"water from the bottle you always take with you on your flights"

Containing not more than 100ml of course.

Captain Stable
13th Sep 2008, 15:44
One scenario the post to which Jude linked didn't mention was that post-ditching, if you haven't read the safety card you will have NO IDEA which exits are safe to use - overwing? rear? front? Which slides detach to form rafts? etc.

I have in the past made a fuss on board about people not paying attention to the briefing, particularly if their seat position directly affects my safety. I have seen people in exit rows, adjacent to the overwing exits reading newspapers. When I have brought this to the attention of the cabin crew, I have been asked if I want to change seats. No, I don't. I want them to move the idiots who now have no idea what they're doing to be removed from a position where, in their ignorance, they are now a threat to the life of everyone around them.

Most airlines tell you to "pass the tapes around your waist and tie in a knot on the left-hand side". Recently travelled on an EZ (formerly GBAirways) Airbus on which we were told to tie them on the right. I queried this and was told this was because the inflation toggle is on the left. Good answer, but (a) I think there should be a little more standardisation in the manufacture of lifejackets and (b) how many people actually took note of this, even if they WERE paying attention to the briefing?

Excellent post Jude brought to our attention, and thanks Jude for doing so.

13th Sep 2008, 17:37
Why tie the tapes? Why not use a plastic buckle arrangement like American Airlines do (on International flights) that you just click together and pull the tape?

Probably because it's more expensive for something that is unlikely to be ever used. I suspect more lifejackets are nicked than are ever used.

13th Sep 2008, 18:44
How safe, in friction or fire or heat conditions, is tanned leather (or tanned fur with leather side out, hair on body side for padding/insulation)?

While the notion of protective clothing is a good one, the real protection should be for your airway. It doesn't matter what you're wearing if you die from smoke inhalation, asphyxiation, or your airway is burned. Your lungs are sensitive.

In the presence of mucus or water (lungs, eyes, airway) smoke quickly turns to hydrochloric acid, among other things, and several agents in the aircraft, including fire extinguishers, become phosgene gas and other toxic byproducts, when exposed to flame. You can survive some time on natural smoke, such as with a brush fire, but synthetic smoke from burning hydrocarbons...which make up much of what's burning in the airplane...not long at all.

As far as leather...it gives brief momentary protection, but very little, and it heats up...and keeps burning you long after the heat source is removed.

Wet coats and objects sound good...but only on paper. For one thing, if it's synthetic, the water won't stop it melting, won't stop it burning, and the water expands to roughly 240 times it's liquid volume as a vapor, and becomes a scalding steam in the presence of flame. You don't see this around a birthday cake at home, but I can attest to it inside a burning structure. I've been burned and seen people roasted not from the fire, but from discharging a firehose or becoming wet, and the water vapor burning them.

As far as using wet objects to filter the smoke...that's something more commonly seen in the movies. While you may have some chance of filtering particles such as soot out of the smoke, the truly dangerous gaseous components will not be filtered and can actually degenerate into more dangerous byproducts as they pass through your wetted shirt or towel, as you breathe. You might not believe it...but don't believe it at your own peril.

Your best protection is a solid knowledge of the emergency procedures for that airplane, and listening to the briefing just one last time...before you have to put those methods in play.

15th Sep 2008, 14:14

Thanks for the link - I will be printing that post!

Interesting comments regarding clothing too... :eek:

I personally fly (as SLF) several times a year, and regardless of the airline or aircraft, I always listen to & observe the safety briefings.
The first thing I do as I take my seat is fasten my seatbelt, (it stays fastened throughout the flight), and read the safety card. I then look at where my nearest exits are, and make a mental note.

It really does annoy me when I see pax taking little or no notice of the safety briefing...


15th Sep 2008, 14:51
What a bunch of holier-than-thou nonsense, which is about par for the course on pprune.

I too can write a long windy post about incidents of know-it-all cabin crew endangering passengers with their ill-conceived safety suggestions, but I won't.

I agree that passengers need to pay attention to the safety briefing, but there is no need for the hot-headed nonsense in the post linked by Juud.

most likely nobody will see this post because of a smart alec moderator

15th Sep 2008, 15:07
There are 2 main reasons why pax ignore safety briefings:

1) The majority start with the 'this is how you put a seatbelt on' spiel. For anyone older than 5, this is just patronising.

2) By far the biggest reason - the majority of people who don't have access to the wisdom contained on PPrune, assume that all airline crashes end up with a 600mph plummet into the ground. They assume that any incident means their instant death and simply pray it doesn't happen.

So, instead of moaning about 'idiot passengers' - what is being done to educate them, if asking them to pay attention to the briefing is not working?

15th Sep 2008, 15:52
Speaking from motor racing background
cotton is good
special flame retardant fabrics are better (but not many will wear those for every flight)
your average synthetic is bad

so much as people have posted. But the big additional thing is:
Transfers, patterns, logos etc. Most of those will weld themselves on to you so a plane cotton shirt is better unless you want a tattoo of your favour t-shirt

Jeans by the way are bad if you end up in the water.

15th Sep 2008, 22:56
1) The majority start with the 'this is how you put a seatbelt on' spiel. For anyone older than 5, this is just patronising.

2) By far the biggest reason - the majority of people who don't have access to the wisdom contained on PPrune, assume that all airline crashes end up with a 600mph plummet into the ground. They assume that any incident means their instant death and simply pray it doesn't happen.

I find that interesting. I've been flying professionally for a lot of years. I don't just fly, but I'm a flight and ground instructor. A flight engineer. An airline transport pilot with most available ratings. And an aircraft mechanic and inspector. I have a good handle on airplanes, for the most part.

I always listen to the safety briefing. Always. When the part comes up about the little metal buckles, I'm not arrogant enough to think it doesn't apply to me. I ride as a passenger a lot. I've changed seat belts. Repaired them. I fly the airplane professionally. I teach others to do so. But it's all irrelevant when it comes to that next takeoff. I'll give you a few examples of why.

I had flown a particular airplane for seven years. I knew it well. Not just the type of airplane, but that specific airplane. I had flown it, worked on it, and practically lived out of it for months at a time. I made a habit of sitting in it daily before we began getting called out, and closing my eyes, and going through a complete self-briefing, a complete blindfold test of the airplane. That included operating the seat belts and harnesses, the emergency door jettison handles, everything.

One day I found myself on fire and headed for the ground at a low altitude, in the middle of a forest fire, and other than the automatic items that had to be handled, only three things entered my mind. I'd briefed on all of them before I took off, just as I did before every single takeoff...no matter how many times I'd done it before. One was the best glide speed...the engine was operating in a condition I'd never seen and couldn't explain. I was smoking and on fire, and didn't know why...but I did know enough to keep flying the airplane until it came to a rest. The second thing I knew was that if the engine behaved in this manner, a little voice long ago had told me to do one single thing, and I did it...it made no sense, but I did exactly as briefed because I held onto that one thing, and I did it...it also probably saved my life. Finally, when the aircraft hit the hillside, things were flying all over. Smoke sparks, you name it. My vision was blurred. My head felt like a rag doll. But as the aircraft came to a rest and I rapidly secured the cockpit and made ready to egress, the process for doing that was crystal clear. I didn't fumble for the handles because I'd briefed them. Those three things...one airspeed, one cockpit motion, one egress...saved my life.

As I first anounced the failure, I was down inside a canyon that was on fire. It had rising terrain on both sides, emergency vehicles underneath and ahead, a burning town ahead and to the left, and a town directly ahead on the road. Nowhere to go. The engine instruments were showing a perfectly functioning engine, but no thrust, no power. The engine responded to the cockpit controls perfectly,but no power. I couldn't understand it, made no sense. I had an overwhelming sense that I'd done something wrong, and couldn't figure out what (I didn't; it was an internal problem). I keyed the mic and said "I think I have a problem."

What woke me up was a briefing of sorts. A leadplane pilot, who flies cover and support on the fires, yelled into the microphone, "LOSE THE LOAD." He clarified my situation. Everything else that might enter my head at that point was entirely irrelevant. He stated the obvious...some might call it patronizing. Jettison my retardant. So I did. I got rid of it. Had he not said that, I would have done so, but not right away, and I was only at 150' when it happened...I didn't have time to mess around. Getting rid of the load doubled my altitude before the engine finally came apart completely...and gave me the altitude needed to reach the site where I finally came to rest...it also saved my life.

The point is that the briefing you got six years ago as a passenger wasn't any different than the one you got five minutes ago...the seatbelt still works the same. You will remember your recent experience in the heat of the emerency, however, and it's the recent announcement that's important. When the flight attendant briefs the buckle, I feel for it with both hands, trace the belt to the buckle, unsnap it and put it together again. Was I last in a car where I pressed the buckle? Will that be my muscle memory when I try to get out in an emergency? Was I last in the cockpit where I twisted the buckle to get out? Will that be my unconscious memory when I'm sensory-overloaded in a smoke filled airplane and thinking only of how my lungs feel like they're burning, and I'm trying to get out? I want my last muscle memory of a seatbelt to be the one I'm wearing...and I listen to the briefing and follow along.

When the flight attendant tells me about the life vest, I reach under the seat and feel for it, touch it. I want to know exactly where it is, not guess. I want to know it's really there. And so on as the briefing continues. As the emergency exits are pointed out, I count the seatbacks in each directly, repeat them out loud to myself, and count them on my fingers to help it stick in the short term memory. I may not remember my children's age when the airplane's on fire, but I will remember the number of seat backs, the distance, and the direction...and at that time and place, it's all I need to remember to live...what's contained in the briefing. You're told to note the nearest exit...there's a reason for that.

Among my other aviation activities for may years, decades now, has been parachuting and skydiving. Something that's long been stressed in jumping has been a thorough preparation, which includes having someone else do a "pin check" to look over your gear and make sure you didn't screw up, and a self briefing on your harness and handles. You don't want to be grabbing the wrong item or pulling the wrong handle at the wrong time...not only can it cost you your life, but kill everyone else on the airplane if, for example, your parachute deploys on board. Over the years I've keenly followed the fatality reports, and every year many jumpers who are killed are seen going in (hitting the ground) tugging on their harness. They think they have a handle, such as a reserve ripcord, but they don't. This might sound ridiculous, but it happened to me about six years ago...and it's happened to many experienced jumpers, too.

People are arrogant. The feel that explaining the basics is beneath them is patronizing. Let me tell you in case you haven't been there and done that...it's not patronizing if it saves your life. It's lifesaving.

I know my parachute gear intimately, but I still go through the ritual of feeling every handle, over and over. When I haven't jumped for a time, I still hire someone to tell me what I already know, make a jump with me, get current. Same thing with flying. Even if I have a lot more experience than the person telling me...even if I am the guy that installed the seat belt and flies the airplane and teaches others to fly the airplane and install the seat belts...I'm not the one giving the briefing...my role is different. My role is to listen and take seriously the briefing...the briefing that's being given for my benefit. To save my life.

At the moment I'm assigned to the Boeing 747. A couple of months ago as I prepared to enter the cockpit, I stopped to look over the upper deck emergency exit and slide assembly. I have a little paper in my file showing that I've been checked out on that exit, I've been trained on deploying the slide, and on every other exit and emergency device in the airplane...it's part of the job. But as I looked at that exit, I pondered how long it's been since I opened it myself, or went through the motions of releasing the slide, moving it, etc. I took time before the flight to have another crewmember give me a briefing on that door and on that slide again. I didn't find it patronizing...I found it invaluable and necessary. I have to ask...if I have a need for it, what excuse does anyone else have?

Passengers who fail to take it seriously put not only their own lives in jeopardy, but that of everyone else on board.

I used to work with a gentleman who had a melted face, neck and shoulders. He was in a crash not of his own making. He was able to get out and get clear because he did what he was supposed to do. Another on board did not, and this man went back him. He was badly burned in the process. Failure on the part of another puts everyone at risk...those waiting behind you to get out, those who have to come in to get you, everybody. Failure to properly stow your gear makes it a potential missle in turbulence, and in a crash. Failure to shut off your cell can compromise communicatons and even navigation. Failure to listen may mean that the last instructions you received for your benefit and for your life were the only ones you needed...and the ones you don't have because you ignored them.

Yes, saying you know better is arrogant. Yes, it's dangerous. Yes, it's foolhardy. No, you have no excuse for ignoring the briefing. None.

I used to fly with an individual who would say that what's going on right now is the most important thing in your life. More than your family, more than your religion, more than your cat, your finances, or your car. This is is it, the most important thing in your life. Why? Because if you don't get it right, it's the last thing you'll ever do, and you won't get to enjoy your family, your religion, your cat, your finances, or your car. When you get off the flight and drive home, then driving will be the most important thing...because if you don't drive properly, you won't ever see your family, your religion, your cat, your finances, or your car, either. Same for that safety briefing. As you sit in the airplane right now, as the briefing is going on, this is the most important moment of your life. Treat it accordingly.

I certainly don't have so much experience, training, and certification that I find the briefing a waste of time, or patronizing. Quite the contrary. I treat it with respect, and the persons giving it with respect; their job is to save my life. I respect that. For those who are arrogant enough to think they're too smart for the briefing, that it's patronizing...whitewash it any way you will...you're foolish, wrong, and yes, arrogant.

The briefing is...brief. But it's important. So please, come in, sit down, shut up, and listen. Then carry on about your business. We're pleased to have you aboard.

16th Sep 2008, 03:08
As several have pointed out that it is mandatory for the carrier to give the safety briefing but does it have to be in English? The last 2 times I flew with a well known LCC here in Malaysia, it was given only in Bahasa. Maybe,as it was an internal flight, it was considered enough to refer to the safety card.

16th Sep 2008, 03:33
SNS3Guppy... I hadn't planned on responding, because in my head, I listened to the C/C briefing during every flight, gave them eye contact, checked the aircraft emergency card in front of me, counted seat rows to exit, etc.

Your post added more insight for many reasons of which I won't bore anyone with here. You're absolutely correct on so many levels it will now enhance my own checklist as a PAX.

Juud....thanks for posting this. It will no doubt save a life if not more. SNS, thanks for yours. :ok::ok:

16th Sep 2008, 03:42
1) The majority start with the 'this is how you put a seatbelt on' spiel. For anyone older than 5, this is just patronising.

Yeah, I do passenger briefings on small aircraft everyday. I explain that the seat belts are exactly the same as they found on the airliner they flew to NZ on. But I would say 50% of the passengers actually struggle to be able to put them on, and need some form of assistance.

It may be patronising to you, but in my observations, the travelling public can be be quite.... ummm.. thick..

16th Sep 2008, 04:00
1) The majority start with the 'this is how you put a seatbelt on' spiel. For anyone older than 5, this is just patronising.

I used to scoff at this one as well until it was pointed out in a doco I saw a year or so ago that 98% of the time you are using a car seat belt which operates completely differently. In an emergency your brain switches back to the "automatic" responses and starts trying to push the button to undo the seat belt.

Apparently more than one person has died in an aircraft fire because of this.

I have to confess that I have always sort of ignored the safety briefing as I thought is was not for "regular" flyers like me. Now I can see what an ignorant pratt I was. I have to say in my defence that when in an exit row I always read the card. I want to know how to open that damn door. I will certainly be paying attention from now on. I will also be feeling for the Life Jacket, I had never thought of that one...

16th Sep 2008, 12:31
Good point - but unless that is explained to people, they will carry on ignoring it.

I know that safety briefings are neither patronising nor pointless, but until most passengers realise that the choice is not just between no problems at all and instant death, they will continue to be ignored.

Perhaps it's time to be a bit more brutal? "In the event of a depressurisation, the plane may go into a rapid dive. You may not be able to see anything due to the plane being full of fog and you certainly won't hear anything above the horrendous noise and terrified screaming. You'll probably have banged your head and also soiled yourself. Perhaps that is not the best moment to read your safety card and work out how to get the oxygen you desparately need, so how about paying attention now newspaper boy?"

16th Sep 2008, 14:25
Yeah, I do passenger briefings on small aircraft everyday. I explain that the seat belts are exactly the same as they found on the airliner they flew to NZ on. But I would say 50% of the passengers actually struggle to be able to put them on, and need some form of assistance.

It may be patronising to you, but in my observations, the travelling public can be be quite.... ummm.. thick..

I would go along with that. I reckon on every civil flight I have been on that someone in close proximity has got it wrong. Either sat on their belt, failed to tighten it or tried to use my belt.

16th Sep 2008, 15:32
I was for several years flying as SLF upwards of 100K miles a year. I ALWAYS listen to the briefing for 2.5 reasons:

0.5 - I want the crew to know I pay attention
1 - I may learn something new that will help in an accident
2 - I don't want new flyers around me thinking that it's OK to ignore the briefing then f:mad:ing up in an emergency and placing me in additional danger.

16th Sep 2008, 21:50
I fly weekly, this week 4 flights, two short & two long hall, on your line, as normal Juud.

Yes, I listen, yes I watch, and yes I take it seriously. I try and catch the cabin crew's eye, to let them KNOW I'm watching, it doesn't cost me anything, and I think it makes them feel a little happier knowing at least one of us can wait for the contents of the latest edition of the Holland Herald or the daily Blurb.

The only time I didn't take it TOO seriously was one hop from HUY to AMS, sat in 1A, when the flight attendant put all of the safety equipment on 1B (or C) anyway the seat next to me. The temptation to plug the demo seatlbelt into the spare fixed seatbelt on the empty seat, and loop the tapes of the lifevest around the chair arm were TOO tempting.

Made us both smile though as she tried to pick up said items in turn, of course, I denied all knowledge, it must have been the fairies !

Nowadays, I'm older for sure, and wiser, perhaps, so no messing around, one day I might just need your help up there !

16th Sep 2008, 23:42
I read a firefighters hotel survival quide and it had similarities to aircraft.

Count the doors between your room and the fire exit ON ARRIVAL as it may be the last time you see them. You can then count them as you crawl along the floor in the smoke.

The guide also stated that after 15 seconds in smoke your eyes shut and stay shut. This is certainly my experience when the smoke from a tiny bonfire in my garden suddenly came my way.

I keep a pair of swim goggles in my pocket / on my hotel bedside table in the belief they will enable me to keep my eyes clear of smoke.
A very cheap, minimum bulk, hopefully security cleared safety aid.

Question. As I have never seen anything at all regarding my goggles approach, are there any serious downsides ?

17th Sep 2008, 00:35
Question. As I have never seen anything at all regarding my goggles approach, are there any serious downsides ?

I am sure SNS3Guppy will reply when able. In the meantime allow me to give you an example of what I experienced in an exercise of evacuating a smoke filled airliner cabin.

The airport fire/rescue department filled the cabin of a Boeing 727 full of smoke. Very dense heavy smoke, the only difference being that it was white smoke rather than the usual black smoke that usually occurs in an aircraft accident and obviously the smoke was non-toxic. As I was a PIC in the 727 I acted that part with a standard cockpit crew, with the exception of a observer from the fire/rescue department sitting on one of the jump seats.

Upon a signal from the observer I ordered the evacuation. At that time the cockpit was relatively free of smoke. The flight engineer was first out of the cockpit, then the co-pilot followed by myself. After two steps visibility was zero, I mean zero, I was wearing the full face mask with attached oxygen bottle. I am sure you have heard the expression of 'you can't see your hand in front of your face'. The only way I could see my hand was by placing it on the face mask. I could not see the cabin floor, the overhead or any of the seats. I thought I knew the cabins of our 727s like the back of my hand, after all I had been flying them for over 7 years when this happened. For this exercise the only exit that we were allowed to use was the mid-cabin right wing emergency window exit. I went right by the exit row, never saw it, I had to backtrack to get to the exit. In an actual accident that could have cost me my life. By design and SOP I, as the PIC, was the last person off the aircraft. Also for this exercise we had positioned four people to remain in the cabin, as if injured, for the fire/rescue personnel to find and remove.

They only found one. The other three came out after the exercise was declared over, much to the chagrin of the fire/rescue personnel. But all was forgiven as the firemen had to buys beers for the three guys not rescued.

The point of this story is that your goggles will help you keep you eyes free of toxic fumes/smoke for a short period of time, but do not depend on them to help you see in heavy smoke. One other thing to consider is the material around the goggles, probably rubber, rubber melts, no a good thing.

I would recommend to you and everyone else here in Pprune that you purchase a proper, certified and approved smoke hood. Carry them on board the airlines with you. My wife and I do and we also keep them close to us when staying in hotels.

I hope this helps answer your question beamender99.

17th Sep 2008, 00:38
are we here not preaching to the converted? I mean, SLF visiting PPRuNe are more likely to understand

Reading the posts since then, it seems there's a pretty steady stream of posters that not only listen attentively to every word of the briefing but also even 'try and catch the cabin crew's eye, to let them KNOW I'm watching, it doesn't cost me anything, and I think it makes them feel a little happier'. All very cosy.

The reality is obviously different - hence this thread I assume- commercial aviation is dependent on bums on seats, and the airline knows that there is a serious marketing and P&L downside to their customers dying unnecessarily as a consequence of using their product.

They also know that the perception of the vast majority (I'd estimate about 95+% at least) of their customers is that if there's a serious problem then they will die - i.e crash into a mountain/ocean, etc). Combine this with the actively promoted and therefore for same majority accepted mindset of 'flying is the safest form of transport' and bingo, we have a risk vs worry mindset of most passengers which is that the safety briefing is superfluous - i.e. the probability of it being useful is so remote I'll ignore it, especially if I've heard it before. They probably feel that the lottery ticket in their pooch is a bigger concern - and to be honest why wouldn't they?

Air travel is a commercial operation remember so the customers take a risk assessment themselves (flying is safe so I'll do it) when they buy the ticket even if those in the commercial airline biz feel the risk/ survival reward of the current briefing format differs between them and the majority of customers. To the customer they buy the risk when they hand over they're hard-earned cash for the ticket not when they're taxiying.

Where is the right balance between spooking the majority of airline customers by explaining clearly the what-if scenarios against the probability of their occurrence?

If they weren't required to by law, how many airlines would ditch the safety briefing as part of the job-spec for crew? How many airline employees would go on strike to argue to their employer that the pre-flight briefing should be reinstated on the grounds of risk vs reward for the $ the passengers put up?

Why not have a safety briefing before boarding? Why not at random times during the flight? Why not have key points printed on the same page as the boarding pass in this age of e-tickets? Why not vary all of the above and more?

My point is, it's more down to the biz than the passenger. If safety/survivability REALLY is your priority then MARKET it. Don't fall back on what you're compelled to do by law. Cabin staff simply going through the motions because they have to is commercially equivalent to passengers not being interested. Both parties are expending the minimum effort for what they perceive as minimal reward.

17th Sep 2008, 01:17
Many thanks for such a prompt reply

The point of this story is that your goggles will help you keep you eyes free of toxic fumes/smoke for a short period of time

That is exactly what I was trying to achieve.
From my bonfire smoke experience I recall wanting to just rub my stinging eyes rather than get out of the way. Goggles may just buy me a little more time.

17th Sep 2008, 01:29
I would still highly recommend that you acquire a smoke hood. Much, much better, they are not that expensive.

17th Sep 2008, 02:32
What you were saying about finding the overwing exits in a smoke filled cabin, the old 737s used to have 2 buttons on top of the hatrack in line with these exits. ( don't know if the later models have them). One airline I used to work with; I asked the cabin crew if they knew about these buttons and they had never been told about them.

17th Sep 2008, 05:07
Con-Pilot is absolutely correct. I've never thought about swim goggles, but I suppose they might stave off the stinging effect in your eyes. Remember that you'll have the same effect with your nose, and with your lungs...and the airway (mouth through lungs) is the most critical component on your body...and the most vulnerable in a fire.

When I did structural firefighting, one of the basic skills of working inside a fire was doing it blind. If the fire is in the early stages and one can get below the "thermal balance," or the level at which the smoke stops...it's clear beneath and one can see a little. However, once the balance gets disturbed, all bets are off and one can't see at all. One of the techniques we were taught, and used, was to lay on our side (being on the floor makes a world of difference between being roasted and living..the temperature difference between the floor and standing up can be hundreds, and even thousands of degrees). We couldn't see the fire, but to detect flame above, pause and listen, and see if we could feel our ear burn. That was the test. Another involved shooting a burst of water in a fog stream up, and seeing if any came back on our mask...if it didn't, we knew it had vaporized right away and that it was HOT.

The point is we couldn't see to tell. We had to be able to find out way in and out of a structure by feel. A search of a building for survivors during a fire is often conducted the same way; completely blind. Finding one's way out of a fire may involve following the hose back out and having to feel the fittings on the firehose to determine which way one is going...one can't see.

When I did that, I was on self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) gear. Without it, I wouldn't have lasted ever a very short period in the smoke. Aside from the high carbon monoxide content, numerous extremely toxic components are in that smoke. As mentioned before, hydrogen cyanide is one of them. Contact with mucus membranes also creates hydrochloric acid...that's the burning you're feeling as irritation and pain in your eyes, nose, and lungs.

Commercial smoke hoods like the EVACU8 are available, but there's been considerable controversy over them through the years. Some insist on carrying them, some don't. If you're wearing synthetics and fighting the mases to find an exit in the wreckage, and there's a real fire around...you have very little time. It may or may not buy you that time; I can't say. Nobody can, really, because the dynamic nature of such an emergency means anything is possible or could happen.

In hotel rooms, I keep my shoes near the bed and handy, and a flashlight (torch) always nearby. I always note the exits. Counting doors is good, but exits are nearly always at the end of halls. It's very easy to go the wrong direction in the smoke, and when you're staying in hotels much of the year like I do, they start to appear alike. Use the right hand or left hand rule; when you go out your door, all you need to know is whether you go right or left, and keep the right or left hand on the wall, touching it, as you move, until you reach the exit. I've had only one emergency egress of a hotel over the years, and that was during an earthquake in California years ago. I was glad my shoes and gear was handy and ready to go...shoes are important because most people (myself included) don't sleep fully clothed, and burning material or sharp material may be on the floor on the way out...you need your feet to get there...and you need your shoes.

Back to the airplane...if there's a crash (or whatever emergency may occur), you can only count on having available to you what's actually on your person. If your things are in a purse or bag, under the seat or in the seatback ahead of you, there's a high probability you won't see them again or be able to get them or use them in flight. Things move and shift. Seats detach. Airplanes break up. Forces that move things around are considerable. If it's not on your person, directly under your control, you probably won't have access to it once the emergency really begins in earnest (part of the reason that when a ditching is going to happen, it's best to have the vest out of the bag and on you...you really don't want to be looking for it and opening it when the airplane is filling with water).

I think I've rambled enough in this thread, but it's always been a very important topic to me. I think having your own personal emergency equipment isn't a bad thing...obviously if you show up in a nomex flight suit with a survival vest on, to take a commercial flight, you might appear out of place. But dressing properly, taking precautions such as listening to the briefing, and preparing mentally will do a lot to give you the best opportunity to survive the unthinkable.

A few years ago, I carried a fire shelter in the airplane when fighting fires. I don't know anyone else who did, and I'd been encouraging the practice for several years without success. (A fire shelter is an aluminumized blanket one wraps over one's self when being burned over in a wildland fire; it's strictly a lifesaving item). Most who worked in that vocation felt that if one crashed during a fire mission, one wouldn't survive anyway...which is often the case. However, I found myself on a hillside during a very active fire, downwind of the fire, having experienced an engine failure. I was very much alive, but was downwind of the fire, in a field of cheat grass on a mountainside, with 40 knot winds...a fire can race through that at 30-40 knots and grass fires kill more people each year than any other kind (a little known fact). This was exactly the reason a fire shelter should have been carried. Fortunately, I didn't need mine...but thinking ahead and planning for our own needs is prudent...that could include the type of footwear you'll have on, the makeup of your clothes (synthetic vs. natural fiber), etc.

On a commercial flight, your tool for survival is getting clear of the airplane, following the directions that are given...and that's it. The briefing provides you most of the tools you need, if not all of them, to have the best chance to survive. Follow the briefing.

19th Sep 2008, 13:53
My thanks again to con-pilot & SNS3Guppy.

It is so helpful to a SLF to get feedback from those that have "been there done that"

I have been very close to quite a few horrible events (including quite a few aviation ones) and that does focus the mind on what can I do to reduce my risks.

19th Sep 2008, 21:23
Maybe lots of people ignore the safety briefing because not many people on god's green earth can easily tolerate the patronising, nasally tone with placing the accent on every word in the sentence, which hosties the world over inevitably adopt when speaking on the PA.

Here's a good safety briefing. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATROYeElbKQ)