27 August 2008

Flight FAQs

By Thiru Jr

Since joining AirAsia as a cadet pilot several years ago, I have learnt much – not only about the strange and wondrous workings of commercial flying, but also from the many close encounters with our dear guests. Answering guest queries personally is important to me as that’s when I get to provide that much needed ‘personal touch’ to our guests.

Here is a crash course folks (pardon the bad pun) on my flight FAQs.

Q: Why do we need to open the window shades for takeoff and landing?
A: Basically, for safety. Do remember that if there were to be an accident it is likely to occur during take off and landing. Opened window shades allow both passengers and crew to access the situation outside of the aircraft (as well as first responders to assess the situation inside).

Q: With autopilot on, what’s so difficult about flying?
A: The Autopilot cannot make the plane take off by itself. (It can land by itself but this is not allowed due to calibration problems). Though used extensively, note that like any other computer, it operates on a GIGO (garbage-in, garbage-out) principle. The Autopilot cannot make critical decisions like abort a take-off, perform a go-around etc. Man still rules, ok!

Q: Why can’t I use the handphone inflight?
A: This is a question that is as old as the handphone itself. Firstly because while a single mobile phone or two is unlikely to interfere with communication/navigation equipment, 180 mobile phones going on at the same time would. So it’s better to post an outright ban.
Second, because jet fuel has a very low flashpoint (meaning it is highly flammable in vapour form) and on a hot and dry day, static from 180 handphones may ignite (similar to the no-handphone reasoning in petrol stations).

Q: Why doesn’t AirAsia allow us to take photos of the aircraft?
A: Errr… you CAN take pictures of our aircraft. Just not on the tarmac! And for the record, it’s not an AirAsia rule but a Malaysia Airports rule. Standing next to the aircraft can be dangerous – hot surfaces, dangerous fumes, jet blast from other aircraft, ear-damaging noise etc. You can also get hit by the many ground service vehicles. This is why even pilots have to wear yellow vests in the tropical heat when on the tarmac.

Q: Why can’t I go inside the cockpit for a short while on the ground?
A: This is something practiced by all airlines. It is because of the high workload on pilots. The need to turn-around and prepare the aircraft in 25 minutes makes it necessary for us to stay focused so we can depart on time.

Q: Why I see pilot carry newspaper inside the cockpit? You all so free one meh?
A: The newspaper is actually a sunshade. You see, the existing shades in the aircraft are inadequate – so we need newspapers for extra glare protection. (yeah, right!)

Q : Why your pilot always like to tell us groundspeed, altitude, temperature, “visibility more than 10 km” etc? Why so boring one?
A: Yes, I know it is boring. But not every pilot can sound like a radio deejay. The hard part for us is that on one hand, we need to sound “fun, hip and happening” when making announcements to entertain our guests. On the other hand, we also need to sound “serious, focused and safety-conscious” to reassure our guests. You see, making a “radio deejay”-type announcement may be fun etc but if we have an incident, then that part is going to make us look really silly, don’t you think? So give us a break lah!

Note: Answers are strictly the personal answers of the writer, and by no means reflects Company practice or the Flight Operations Department. Apologies in advance for any wrong answers.

  • Asfa

    Just to share..My daddy was one of Malaysian’s pioneer pilot and now retired. Back then flying was all conventional.. no autopilot until it was invented. As a “True Pilot”, I believe “man still rules” in handling the aircraft…safety of hundreds passengers on board is in your hands yeah…de factor especially in moments of truth. Thanks for flying us safely AirAsia everywhere & anywhere..splash.splash!! XOX BDolphin

  • Krshna

    Thiru, Thank for your FAQs,

    Interesting story for newspaper, now I know the use of newspaper in the cockpit.
    Why don’t you use black sunglasses?

  • Beng Han

    Hi,

    Is there any reason about the ‘Put your seat right up’? I’m curious about it ..

    That’s coz you need to give space to the person behind you to perform the ‘brace’ position in the event of an emergency landing.

  • Daniel

    oh this faq is realy nice & dun to read, thanks for sharing! haha now i can answer some of those questions to my frens alredy

  • Kwan Chung

    wow… interesting fact there…
    thanks for sharing…
    :)

  • Ikienn

    nice faq…sumthin new to learn:)

  • Amirul

    Our aircraft are incapable of reversing by themselves, but they have devices attached to each of the engines that functions as thrust reversers (flaps that diverge the flow of air to the opposite direction to slow the aircraft down). If you’re lucky enough to sit near the engines, look outside just when the aircraft touches down, and you’ll see them in action! =)

  • Eu Hon

    Just wondering, is there any aircraft that can reverse?

  • Thiru Jr

    Errr… believe the question forwarded by anonymous is whether or not the aircraft can ‘go-stan’ as in a car. Answer – no! Which is why we need something called a ‘push-back’ vehicle (that small buggy-like thingy attached to the nosewheel).
    There are in fact smaller aircraft which can ‘go-stan’ by virtue of reversing their thrusts but never in commercial airliners.

    Cheerio..

  • Asfa

    Hee hee coz there’s “no side mirror”..just joking.Captain Thiru..aweesoome faQs…splash..splash!!XOX B Dolphin

  • Hms

    so…
    i can’t entered the cockpit even after landing??

  • Adrian

    On the ground, most of the pilots would be okay with letting you pop in to the cockpit for a look. As you are disembarking, just ask one of the flight attendants at the door, she will check with the captain and most of the times, the guys will accomodate your request to have a look see or a picture or two.

  • Fu

    Hello, I’m Fu. Thiru Jr , may I ask you a question? Now I’m 17 years old and looking forward to become a pilot. So, I wanna notice for the cadet pilots recruitment while my SPM result comes out next year…Basicly, when the cadet pilots recruitment will be held (For next year *2009)? Hope you will reply me as soon as possible. Thanks in advance. :)

  • Hare

    Wow! Mr. Thiru Jr. just answered all the most- frequently asked questions about pilot-career.
    Thanks to Mr. Amirul for the reply too, hope to see more from you guys very soon.

    Aspirang Pilot,
    Hare Chandran Jr.

  • Ahmad Azamiruddin

    Hi pilots,

    I want to know, inside cockpit, there is airconditioning or not? a few month ago, during disembark, i saw pilots inside cockpit pull-up their pants up to their knee an sweating like hell. this situation also witnessed last week when i landed in AOR, it looks like the cockpit are very hot and unconfortable place to be. is that true? i thought they dont need aircond because up in the sky, the air is very cold.

  • Ahmad Azamiruddin

    One more question, maybe some sort of sharing.

    Is it really glamour being a pilot? Know what, once before my ambition is to be a pilot. But destiny has it all, doctor said I have to wear glasses because my eye has rabun jauh kind of thing, kabushh, my dream gone. I have to move on leaving ‘pilot’ behind. Now I’m an engineer, an aeronautical engineer, working with composite manufacturing company at the Malaysia most northern place (if driving on PLUS highway – 5km ahead is Thailand border). Career as an engineer makes me travel a lot, and minority of it with an aircraft (yeah, cost saving issue).

    Hei, guess what, when flying, I always wonder what they are doing at front end of the flying tube. Must be very delightful, enjoying meals at several thousand feets above sea level, enjoying clear blue skies, sun set, sun rise, etc. We as a pax, just a small shielded opening accompany us during our meal, to enjoy the view.

    Deep inside my heart, if still got minute opportunity, I still wanna be a pilot, but I dunno, I’m now 28years old…deep sigh….

    I remember reading a book, forgot the title, the author quotes Leonardo do Vinci’s words, I forgot the full sentence but roughly like this; if you ever tastes flight, your eyes will always turn skywards, there you’ve been, and there you’ll always long to return…

    Yes, pilots, enjoy your life, million others wanna be like you but can’t…. not because of no, but can’t….

    Regards.

  • Ahmad Azamiruddin

    This are the words:

    ”Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return ”

  • Kok Kheng

    Ahmad,

    if you are really keen and have the cash to spare, why not consider going laser treatment for your eyes?

    worked for me. :-)

    however, you still need to declare and pass your med exams.

  • Mohd Saiful Nizam

    hey friends.i need ur helps n opinion about how to enter this academy.i am really interested to be a pilot.please

  • Mohamed Ghouse

    Cool! Most of my questions are answered. Thanks Thiru

  • Cecilia

    hey friends.i need ur helps n opinion about how to enter this academy.my brother is really interested to be a pilot.kindly please reply me..
    thank u..