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Home > Air Turbulence > Is there any reason why there were lack of communication from the cockpit?
Is there any reason why there were lack of communication from the cockpit?
Weather - Air Turbulence
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 21:12

Hi Capt Lim,

I have traveled over half the world by commercial airliner in the last 20 years flying frequently at times and have never experienced a turbulent landing as I did in Salt Lake City last month (Boeing 767 300). My experience was much the same as described in many of the "amusement park ride" postings on your web site - women crying out and men making spontaneous remarks with colorful language. I had my eyes closed and was wondering if I
would walk on land again.

After reading your FAQ concerning turbulence, I now believe the experience was not as dangerous as I thought at the time, which brings me to the point I want to make. At no time during our descent or during the turbulence or after landing did the Captain or First Officer come on and address the passengers concerning the turbulence. Perhaps there was no time or perhaps they were not able to, due to restrictions on talking (I have heard that crews must focus on flying when below 10,000 feet).

On recollection, the most enjoyable flights (some with good amount of turbulence, aborted landings, etc) I have been on, were times when the pilots communicated with the passengers throughout the flight. That communication ranges from points of interest during the flights, noise abatement takeoffs to warnings about "choppy or rough air". In my opinion, there is nothing more reassuring to the passengers than a calm voice from the flight deck periodically describing these type of conditions. In the last several years, it seems the majority of pilots only address the passengers once and that is right after takeoff.

Any reason for the lack of communication?

Thanks again for providing a great information-related website!

David Jones

Hi David,

I know how passengers feel when they are kept in the dark. I really empathize with the anxiety shown by all on board a flight where there is lack of communication because I have been a passenger myself too. Most pilots realize the importance of keeping the customers informed but more often than not, when things happen, the pilot's priority is safety and he is usually distracted to handle the more important matters first. Only when he remembers would he come back to say something. This is how a particular Airline excels in customers' relations than another one. Many reputed Airlines put a lot of emphasis on this area, but just like many things in life, you may be on a flight where things just don't measure up to the passenger's needs.

This reminds me of a flight I did a fortnight ago when I took off from Newark, New York and flew across the Atlantic Ocean. When I leveled off at 37,000 feet, I encountered a layer of fairly strong clear air turbulence. The surrounding air was very clear and there was no reason, to an unseasoned traveler, to feel why the air became so turbulent at that point. It took me about 5 minutes after we were clear of the patch of bumpy air before I started to explain to the them on how the 'roller coaster ride' came about and what caused it. I hope they appreciated my explanation.

It is not true that crew must focus solely on flying below 10,000 feet. Yes, more attention must be paid below this level but if an important announcement needs to be made and if it could be done, then either the Captain or the First Officer could do so.

Wish you a pleasant flight on your next trip where your Captain would keep the passengers more informed!

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