Posted by: harrisonjones | May 10, 2011

Looney Passengers

The news reports several incidents in the last few days of passengers mis-behaving during flight—a bomb note in the lavatory, some Bozo beating on the cockpit door and some other Bozo trying to open an entrance door in flight. It seems that some people’s brain falls right out their posterior when they enter an airplane. I can relate to that because the same thing happens to me when I walk into a simulator.  

God bless the flight attendants who have to contend with these mentally deficient people. A normal day has enough challenges for the cabin crew without the addition of idiots on the loose. 

Let’s consider cause and effect. Three obvious causes come to mind.

1-Terrorism- Far be it from me to explain the motive of a terrorist.

2- Mental inadequacy- Something about DNA.

3- Alcohol- The most common factor. One drink at altitude is like two on the ground. 

Whatever the cause, the result will most often be an off schedule landing followed by an arrest. This is an extremely expensive move for the airline, but it’s the safest thing to do and economics is the captain’s last consideration.  

Let’s take a look at the three recent situations that caused off schedule landings. A bomb note in the lavatory is a bomb threat and very different from actually having a known bomb on board. The threat results in an immediate landing and calling out the explosive sniffing dogs to inspect the airplane and everyone’s luggage. The airplane will be parked in a remote area and the passengers placed on buses while their luggage is lined up on the concrete. They watch the dogs smell their suitcase and hope he doesn’t hike his leg. I’ve had several bomb threats and went through the drill, but never found a bomb. Having a known bomb on board is a long and complex procedure that we won’t get into here, but rest assured the crew is trained for it.

Someone beating on the cockpit door is a distraction, but the cockpit is fortified and the problem remains in the cabin. Did I mention, “God bless the flight attendants?” 

Someone trying to open an entrance door (I suppose an exit door in this case) in flight is not as dangerous as it sounds. Almost all the doors are plug type doors. That means the door is bigger than the hole it occupies. Once the engines are started and the air conditioning packs are turned on, the cabin will pressurize to one fourth of a pound per square inch. The pressure seals the door in it’s opening, making it very difficult to open. I know you’re thinking that you can’t evacuate during taxi, but the cockpit crew will open the outflow valve to immediately depressurize in the event of an evacuation. Without the initial cabin pressure on the ground, everyone’s ears would pop on liftoff like the older jets still do. As the airplane climbs, the cabin pressure increases to as much as eight pounds per square inch and I promise you the door will not open no matter how many idiots pull on it. 

Why can’t a guy just go out and enjoy flying the airplane without having to constantly consider all the contingencies? Of course, if that were the case I wouldn’t have anything to write books about.     

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