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Safety - When should PAX alert crew

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Safety - When should PAX alert crew

Old 13th Mar 2010, 21:15
  #1 (permalink)  
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Safety - When should PAX alert crew

I was recently traveling from LTN to MXP on easyjet A319. i fly this route regular and i am quite familiar with this aircraft,
On taxiway i became aware of an unusual noise after the 'squeaking' sound of the hydraulics. Other passengers looked concerned. The sound continued for several mins, i decided to alert the crew, other passenger said it was not necessary as the crew would hear it also. i did alert the crew who didn't initially respond to my "Call Button' even though at this stage we hadn't arrived at the runway. Then a member of the crew did come and ask if i was concerned about the noise, and not to worry as it's normal but "we cannot hear it at the front". If they cannot hear it and it had stopped then how do they know what it was?
Was i correct to alert the crew as it's not helpful to make this observation at 35,000 Ft when in the unlikely event a hydraulic problem has occured.
I would like to hear a professional opinion about passenger comments and observation.
toolman1 is offline  
Old 14th Mar 2010, 00:40
  #2 (permalink)  
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If they cannot hear it and it had stopped then how do they know what it was?
Because they're probably asked about the noise on every flight.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 01:51
  #3 (permalink)  
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I've only ever asked the cabin crew to pass a message to the flight deck once.

As a PPL for 26 years, I was on an AC regional jet at CYQT last February. We had been de-iced, but kept waiting on the deck due to a backlog of a/c waiting to depart.

During the next 25 mins, heavy snowfall had continued and led to a visible snow build-up on the wings and control surfaces. When the Capt announced we were pushing back, I asked the cabin crew to let the flight deck crew know of the snow build-up situation and that the message was from a PPL.

To their credit there was an immediate announcement that we were going to be de-iced again. It 'cost' us 10 mins.

Was I being overly concerned? Maybe, but I would not personally have departed in that condition. My view was that it's my neck on the chopping block too.

Better 10 mins too late in this life than 10 mins too early in the next.
er340790 is offline  
Old 14th Mar 2010, 06:19
  #4 (permalink)  
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You should always alert crew if anything at all concerns you on an aircraft. The issue might already be known to crew, be unknown to crew or it may in fact be a completely normal part of operations that is unusual to the passenger. In any case, if in doubt, tell someone. As to the initial situation that started this thread.

1. Crew may not respond to a call button during taxi because they are required to be in their seat and secured at this time. In extenuating circumstances (and safety permitting) they may be released from their seat by whoever is in charge to ensure there is no emergency situation onboard.

2. The noise may be a known issue to the crew. They may have been operating on that aircraft for several flights and have already been alerted to the noise. The aircraft might also have been checked and cleared for operations since the issue became known.
AirborneSoon is offline  
Old 14th Mar 2010, 08:10
  #5 (permalink)  
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As a frequent traveller for over 30 years and a PPL, I've only ever once reported something.

On a Viscount (this was a few years ago) I noticed a stream of liquid running out of the engine nacelle.

The FO came back with a very large manual and assessed the situation.

His best guess was that it was excess oil running out of the engine and there was no indication on the panel, so no problem.

When leaving the aircraft at Heathrow, I noticed that an engineer had already opened an inspection panel.

Unless I saw something that suggested a clear and present danger (like the icing that er340790 noticed) I would tend to accept that my knowledge of aircraft is troublesome, that is I know more than the average punter but don't know too much about line flying or larger aircraft.

So I tend to trust the crew to know what they are doing.

The clearest example of this was the first time I encountered a flapless take off on a F100
Old 14th Mar 2010, 08:39
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2005
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Suspect there would have to be a piece missing before i said anything. Flying so incredibly safe not worth the risk of ridicule otherwise. Having said that, 'What the passenger saw' might have made a difference at Kegworth.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 10:51
  #7 (permalink)  
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If they cannot hear it and it had stopped then how do they know what it was?
Because they're probably asked about the noise on every flight.
I think those of us who fly frequently are pretty familiar with the usual bumps and grinds of an aircraft and are able to notice something genuinely unusual. This is especially true of PPruNers since we all have a higher than average interest in aviation! If pax have genuine concerns they should not be made to feel stupid for raising them with the cabin crew. After all, its their job to ensure that we are comfortable and safe.

Once while flying at cruising altitude (cant remember who with or where to) lots of dry ice 'smoke' started pouring out from the air conditioning ducts. Cue lots of concerned looking faces and rambling chit chat. Quick as a flash came a p.a. announcement explaining what the 'smoke' was and assuring everyone that there was nothing to worry about. A small gesture but it made a big difference to a lot of people. Even if the 'smoke' was a regular occourance on many flights, a quick explaination would be no more intrusive and repetitive to crew and frequent flyers than the saftey demonstration.

The strangest thing of all about this is that as passengers we are told to be extra vigilant at airports these days. Watch out for unattended bags, look out for suspicious people etc etc... Why shouldn't that vigilance stretch to aircraft saftey?
Anansis is offline  
Old 14th Mar 2010, 12:03
  #8 (permalink)  
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Please, always tell the crew if you see something you're unsure of. Any crew member that ridicules you for that shouldn't be on an aircraft in the first place. After all, we do it all the time if we hear or see something unusual. Sometimes we'll know what it is and be able to reassure you, although I still always pass it on to the flight crew anyway, just in case. Other times we won't and that could be the time you save our lives. That may sound a bit dramatic but it could be that serious.

An incident that happened to me about 5 or 6 years ago. On a very cold, snowy winters morning, we were sat on stand waiting for the de-icing guys to do their stuff. It was the first rotation, so the aircraft had been there all night. After some time, the Capt made the usual PA saying that de-icing was now complete and that we would be pushing back shortly. One of the passengers called me over and with some embarrassment, mentioned that he'd not seen the right hand side being done. He was right. Somehow, the guys had completely missed one side of the aircraft. Thank God for that passenger.

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Old 14th Mar 2010, 15:04
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Thank you for a simple and clear response to the OP. I think it will make your pax feel less hesitant of bringing an unfamiliar event (for them) to the attention of you and your colleagues.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 16:44
  #10 (permalink)  
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On two separate occasions I've alerted the cabin crew to the fact that someone had been smoking in the toilets. And on both occasions the crew were immediately on the case trying to track down the culprits, as well as cleaning the waste out of the bins and checking no smouldering was going on. They also woke up the cabin with lights on and gave a stern reminder on the dangers of smoking in the loos. On one of the flights the culprit was found and reported to the authorities, he was arrested on arrival. As I recall this happened not long after the introduction of no smoking on all flights.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 17:23
  #11 (permalink)  
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I think the phrase was "Flight Safety Is EVERYONE's Business".

I'm sorry for the CC having to deal with 'uninformed' pax, but if you have genuine concerns then SAY SOMETHING. The other [few] hundred people on board will [possibly] buy you a beer if you're right. If not, at least you have made a contribution to FS Awareness.

NEVER let us develop a culture where people are afraid to make a comment. JSL's example with de-icing sums up how important these things can be.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 17:37
  #12 (permalink)  
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Toolman1.....Always,always tell the CC if you are worried

I would second what JSL and Airbornesoon have said in every respect.

I am an EZY SCCM and fly on the 319 almost daily. The very first time I heard that noise as a newbie doing the safety demo on pushback (am assuming that's when you heard it as well) it sounded awful ! Que frantic call to the front and then explanation re the hydraulic system. Most of which went over my head I have to say. Suffice it to say we know this noise is normal.

That said you don't and you may have heard something significant so please keep pressing that button. We are not supposed to get up on taxi but can for a safety related duty.....your call may be safety related. On some airlines you will hear the CC seats for take off call...we would not answer then so if you hear/see something sooner rather than later is the time to tell us.

Scumbag you made reference to Kegworth. As a result of this a lot more emphasis has been put on communication on board and many procedures have been changed. One of our most valuable forms of comms comes from the SLF who can sometimes see things before we do or the warning systems pick it up.

Please don't wait for something to fall off the plane before flagging it up. If in doubt tell us
lowcostdolly is offline  
Old 14th Mar 2010, 18:04
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If the sound you heard was like a barking dog, then it was the hydraulic Power Transfer Unit (PTU). When one engine is running and the other not, the opposite hydraulic system is pressurised via the PTU which is very audible in the cabin, particularly 2/3 of the way back. Google "Airbus PTU" to find out more.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 19:57
  #14 (permalink)  

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Curaçao, years ago, late in the evening, me happy stewardess after a nice slip. A 747, pax embarking via stairs for long transatlantic flight with a short stop at Caracas Maiquetia airport.
Pax are mainly tourists. Loudly dressed, loudly tanned and loudly pleased with life.
"Hey Miss, there´s a hole in yer plane hee hee." grinning & pointing at the aft door he´d just embarked through. OK, I´ve heard that one a few times.
"Thank you for telling me Sir, I´ll have a look." - polite smile and unintentionally forget about it.

"Young Lady, there is rather a large cavity in your aeroplane, right next to that door at the back." - posh elderly lady looking concerned.
Wrestle my way back through the flood of pax. Get out onto stair platform and by gosh there is indeed a ruddy big square hole in the skin. Dark out so difficult to see how deep.

"Boss, can one of you guys come to door 15, there´s hole in the fuselage, I want 1 of you to have a look at it before we leave please."
"Sure honey, a hole. Nurries, the second flight engineer will be down once we´ve got ´em all onboard." - polite answer and unintentionally forget about it.

When after a while I see no FE, I call back."Oh bugga, sorry sweets, forgot all about it. He´s on his way down as we speak."
Strapping lad with the big hands all FEs seemed to have, carrying a huge flashlight. Grins at me big time and goes "Ok where´s your hole babe?"

I show him, he shines the torch and the grin is gone.

Long story short, we flew low level to Caracas, a boarding bridge rather than boarding stairs airport, where the aircraft was grounded for 24 hours and a riveter was flown in to fix it.

Had we crossed the ocean with that hole undetected, we would probably now be at the bottom of it.

I have taken each and every pax remark seriously ever since.

If in doubt, tell the crew.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 21:00
  #15 (permalink)  
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I have seen two cracks, a hole, and an open panel.

One crack was on the engine nacelle and the flight was cancelled. The hole was on top of the fuselage, at night, and nigh impossible to see; te flight was cancelled.

The open panel was seen in flight. It would detach or it wouldn't. The consequences would probably be insignificant but if reported might have caused a turn back in mid-Atlantic; the difference would only have been an hour or so. I made a decision not to tell the crew.

The other crack was on a wing flap. It was not spreading although it was flexing with slight turbulence. I reported this to CC but their knowledge was less than mine and they simply asked me to remain in my seat after landing and point it out to the captain; they did not seem willing to take responsibility. When the captain saw it she thanked me and said she would call the engineers.

On much earlier flight my father said he had watched rivets popping on the wing. As a master mariner he was quite used to rivets popping on his ships so thought nothing of it. The aircraft was G-ALYV.
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Old 14th Mar 2010, 23:51
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As a member of ground staff, I was standing by one of our GB Airways Boeing 737's (was it really a long time ago!) idly watching the passengers disembarking when I noticed that the window immediately behind the door looked wrong - slightly askew. I alerted an engineer who had arrived to "look at something on the flight deck" who promptly diagnosed that a window seal had gone and the window glass had shifted a bit.

He said that I was quite right to point it out because changing a seal now and resetting the glass would possibly save a decompression at some point - a situation which isn't likely to kill anyone if they follow the laid down procedures, but is nevertheless a very frightening experience.

So, yes, if you fly often and you know the usual looks, smells and sounds you experience around aeroplanes and your brain tells you there's something strange, it doesn't do any harm to let a crew member know.
bealine is offline  
Old 15th Mar 2010, 07:41
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Good Question & Good Responses people - Not a bad post on this thread - PPRuNe Pax/SLF Forum at its' best, and personally speaking, exactly why I like to work here.

Now added to Forum FAQ
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Old 15th Mar 2010, 09:18
  #18 (permalink)  

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My first indication of a fairly serious hydraulic problem was passengers noticing a ‘funny noise’. Two passengers, on two consecutive sectors, which was enough for us to call the engineers out.

The funny noise turned out to be an engine driven hydraulic pump which was on its last legs, and eventually ate itself a couple of sectors later. No noise or any other hint of a problem on the flight deck until it went bang.

Moral of the story – if anyone spots anything that doesn’t look or sound right, I’d like to know asap.
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Old 16th Mar 2010, 07:48
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Not noises but something equally worrying, on a CX midnight departure out of HKG for LHR, I was travelling with the wife in the first row of economy and during the short taxy to the runway my wife and I looked at each other at the same time and mimed "burning smell".

At about the same time, a cabin crew member was passing and I alerted her. She could also smell it and called the FD right away. Quick as lightning, the FO was downstairs and confirmed it wasn't in our imagination. We held for a short while and the smell did dissipate and we got underway with strict instructions to keep our noses tuned. Nothing further fortunately.

We probably missed a slot because of it but nobody was complaining. I'm sure a fire must be all crew's worst nightmare.
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Old 16th Mar 2010, 23:23
  #20 (permalink)  
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I'm sure a fire must be all crew's worst nightmare.
Fire is almost anyone's worst nightmare whether in an aeroplane, a ship, a vehicle or a building!

Indeed, aeroplane engine fires and a remote way of extinguishing them made "Graviner" a very successful British company in 1933. It trades today as "Kidde Graviner" .


The "Graviner" system, however, still works on the same principles that saved the lives of many a World War Two RAF aircrew.
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