I enjoy reading your site very much. Your detailed answers have made me a more informed and less nervous flyer.
I'm hoping you can put my mind at ease about an irrational fear that I have experienced while flying. With the introduction of armoured cockpit doors, there is additional separation between the pilots and the cabin crew. There are times during a long flight where several hours may pass without me seeing or hearing from the pilots.
I remember reading a news story in the past year or so in which both pilots of a commercial jet fell asleep and flew a great distance without contacting ATC, even missing their destination airport before waking.
What if they could not be reached by the air traffic controllers?
Would the flight crew be able to intervene? Having said this, I understand pilot fatigue is a serious concern and I can see why it happens.
Thanks so much, and I realize this is an extremely unlikely hypothetical, but I've been curious.
I understand your fear of not knowing what the pilots are doing inside the cockpit and whether they are in constant contact with the cabin crew all the times.
To put your mind at ease, I would like to say that (in my company) there is a requirement for the cabin crew to communicate with the cockpit crew every half an hour during the cruise in long haul flight. I believe this is practised in most airlines to ensure the pilots are so-called “alive and kicking” in front!
Furthermore, on the Boeing 777 that I used to fly, a loud aural warning will come on if the cockpit has been inactive for more than 15 minutes. In other words, the pilots must manipulate some switches, controls or talk to someone – which would not happen if both of them inadvertently fell asleep.
So these are some of the things that happen behind the scene which passengers are unaware of.
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