I thought I was the only person in the world who listened to announcements on public transport. Looks like I'm not unique.
British Airways has apologized for telling 275 passengers en route from London to Hong Kong that their Boeing 747 was in imminent danger of crashing into the sea. “This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water,” an announcement sounded. The plane was flying over the North Sea at the time. …
This puts me in mind of an old sketch on the Carol Burnett show. Marty Feldman was the guest.
The scene was two pilots in the cockpit of a 747 on a long flight on autopilot. To break the tedium, they decided to make vague announcements over the intercom, like "Please do not panic; everything is under control" and "The wings are not on fire."
The flight attendant (Vicki Lawrence, I think, but it could have been Carol herself--it's been a while) would pop in and out and report on the reactions of the passengers.
It ended when the flight attendant reported that a passenger had gotten up out of his seat to use the restroom. Marty Feldman ended the sketch with the line, "Party Pooper," and an eye roll.
Then the passengers might have hoped to survive the "landing on water".
Of course, the grammar police should also be having words with BA regading how, exactly, one lands on water, land being solid stuff with rock and soil whilst water is generally accepted to be more liquid and less land-like.
Perhaps the announcement is glossing over the bit inbetween the Boing 747 hitting the water at a couple of hundred knots and the resulting debris hitting the sea bed, mostly still seatbelted in?
You are quite right. Imminent death and a cold and watery grave is no excuse for incorrect grammar. If we tolerate this kind of sloppiness we are no better than beasts in the field.
I trust if and when this ever happens, the black box recording will end with the captain being given a sharp talking to by a conscientious traveller. There must be at least one person on every plane who feels that proper English is worth storming the cockpit for.
I met one of the investigators in a bar, 20+ pilots all tried simulated water landings. All pancaked the craft. It was a fluke of wind water and waves.
They should say.
"We will soon be crashing into the sea, please return to your seat an put on your life jacket so we can identify your remains."
I see lots of Scarebus fans here. Is it some kind of brand loyalty, support for the local manufacturer or superstitious hope that because most of short-haul European aircraft are Airbuses then if you praise it more you will be less likely to crash in one?
The thing is there is not enough data points to say whether an Airbus or a Boeing or an Embraer or whatever is inherently safer than other a/c in a ditching situation.
Examples of most manufacturer's a/c were ditched more or less successfully over the years. The recent Hudson River accident has only one significance to it - it's recent and as such people tend to remember it more. But to base your belief that Scarebus is safer on that one accident is a mistake.
Having worked on Met Office Weather Ships, formerly based in Greenock, Scotland, the chances of even BA (British Ar*eholes), another rotten flag carrier, likely couldn't make it as so much information is needed by the pilots including surface wind speed and direction, wave height and direction.
And what the hell are they using automated announcements for? Is this another crew reduction scheme by little Willy Walsh?
In any event, it's cheaper to fly AirAsiaX to Bangkok and onward by another LCC or, for people with more money, take Thai to Bangkok, have a clean-up break, then a quick flight on to HKG. If you want to fly non-stop nothing beats Cathay. They all make BA cabin service look terrible, which it is!
....sound like an excellent idea to me, in an emergency. A nice clear, concise, pre-determined message from a recording, versus a panicked, scrambled message from a flight attendant who is pretty sure they are about to die.
Of course, this rather pre-supposes that there is actually an emergency when the recording is triggered, but no system is perfect.
I've always wondered why they have so many buttons on fight decks, now we know, one for every conceivable announcement!
I suspect the reason for automating it is to ensure that the announcers voice is stress free, think children's TV voice over "Hello children, we're going to crash!". A classic case of too many managers me thinks.
In a real emergency, the crew would be rather busy. So a pre-recorded message would lighten their taskload. The canned message would also be clear and intelligible. Something that may not be true if it were performed by a captain battling simultaneously to keep the plane airborne and issuing commands on a flight deck with alarms sounding.
Arthur: So we’re actually going to land in a minute?
CAPTAIN: Well not, not, not so much land in fact, I think as far as I can remember we’re programmed to, er crash on it.
ARTHUR and FORD: ”Crash”?
CAPTAIN: Yes. It’s all part of the plan. … I think. There was terribly good reason for it which I can’t… quite… remember at the moment.
FORD: You’re a load of useless, bloody loonies!!
CAPTAIN: Ah, yes, that was it, that was the reason. Pass me the loofah will you?
I recall flying with my wife and 5 year daughter between SF & LA on S/W airlines in 2000 where the safety announcements included "offensive passengers will be removed from airline during flight" and "In case we have to bring the plane down in water we hope that it will become a boat".
The same flight also had my daughter making announcements and the cabin crew singing her songs over the tannoy.
The return flight was equally memorable where the cabin steward slipped me his phone number, much to my surprise and my wifes amusement.
Paris because I can't imagine her being treated so well on S/W Airlines
I was on an American flight between LAX and Las Vegas. Just after they closed the doors on the plane, the captain came out of the cockpit and told us in person that we should feel safe because the cockpit door is bulletproof.
This was in 2005 - I guess Sept 11th still haunts AA pilots!
I mean, they could've said something like, "Hey, creeps, put down that fried chicken and get your water wings on", and "Ahhh forget that, d-bags at the tower clicked the wrong button while they were Facebooking"
That might've been more fun, though, admittedly.
...probably not as classic as the style of the Monty Python crew, though.
How many of them were time-served glider pilots? If you're flying powered all the time, you'll assume you can adjust the throttle. If you're a glider pilot, you know that landings are a one-shot can't-change-your-mind deal. Same as the Gimli Glider - you need someone on the controls who's used to the situation.
But that said, you also need a plane which maintains control if it loses both engines. And which stays afloat for long enough to let the passengers get out safely if you do ditch. Airbus scored on both of those counts.
"But that said, you also need a plane which maintains control if it loses both engines. And which stays afloat for long enough to let the passengers get out safely if you do ditch. Airbus scored on both of those counts."
Any plane allowed to operate in scheduled airline service by law must be able to do all of the above unless it loses the engines together with the wings. If it can't, it will never be certificated by any civil aviation regulator (FAA, CAA etc.).
I remember being on an Easyjet flight years ago where the cabin crew had a great sense of humour. Some of the gems:
"While we are taxiing to the stand, please remain seated. Our pilots are great on the air, but their parking is questionable so may break hard and we dont want to have to clean up your blood".
"Our cabin crew are here for your safety. While some of you may have seen these announcements, just remember that your newspaper is unlikely to help you if we fall out of the sky"
"Anyone caught smoking will be asked to sit outside"
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