Wednesday, 28 December 2011 13:34
Hi Captain Lim,
I have a few questions:-
1. How could a pilot fly an airplane for 13 hours at one stretch without sleeping all night while sitting comfortably on his seat?
2. What happens if an accident arises whilst he is asleep?
3. How some pilots land and take off smoothly than others?
4. Air turbulence is my nightmare - how pilots are trained to control the plane effectively?
5. Two motor engine planes - if one motor stops, are pilots able to land safely?
1. Pilots never fly a stretch of 13 hours without a rest or sleep. Strict regulations make sure that any flights exceeding 10 hours must be crewed by 2 captains and 2 co-pilots. So each set will be in control in the cockpit for six and a half hours only.
2. This will not arise as pilots are not allowed to sleep whilst on duty.
3. Smoothness of take offs or landings are sometimes caused by other external interferences like turbulence, crosswinds or wind shears. So it is not possible to make a smooth landing everytime. There is this humorous story whereby after a rough landing, the flight attendant made an announcement, "Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco International Airport, we apologize for the bumpy landing. It’s not the captain’s fault. It’s not the co-pilot’s fault! It’s the asphalt! (runway surface)
4. Turbulence is normal and is part and parcel of flying on most flights. I have often mentioned that it is not to be feared. It is only an issue of discomfort rather than that of safety as long as you are securely fastened with your seat belts. Normally, the plane is flying with the autopilot on even in turbulence. Passengers are warned of impending turbulence and the captain would try his best to avoid them. Prior to entering turbulence, the seat belts would be switched on and the speed reduced just like a car approaching a hump on the road. I have written extensively about turbulence here.
5. Modern airliners have jet engines. Motor or piston engines are no longer used on most transport planes today. Nevertheless, all pilots are trained to fly on one engines and land the plane safely should the other one fails during all phases of a flight. You should not worry about this as it is the most practised exercise (engine failure after take-off) in a pilot’s career!
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