When it comes to flying, things have changed a lot over the last decade. Things that were fine to carry with you a few years ago are now banned, plus there are more safety checks that people have to keep in mind on a daily basis. If you have not traveled recently by air, then you may not be aware of what safety procedures to expect. Here's a list of what you can expect the next time you head to an airport, so make sure to include the extra time in your travel plans.
Pilot Safety Checklist
One of the first things that are done during the pre-flight safety checks is the pilot going through the aircraft and doing a checklist. This checklist requires the pilot to not only inspect how the plane is working and responding, but also gauge the environment around the plane and how the pilot has been doing on a personal level. This personal checklist for the pilot is called the "I'M SAFE" checklist. This is what it stands for:
- “I” stands for Illness, and it requires the pilot to write down any illness he or she has experienced within the last 24 hours to one week. This includes little symptoms like a stuffy nose to major symptoms like nausea or a fever.
- “M” stands for Medication, and it requires the pilot to write down any medication taken during the same time frame. This includes both prescription medications given to you by a physician, and over-the-counter medications the pilot took on his or her own accord.
- “S” stands for Stress, and it includes many types of stress: family stress, job stress, financial stress, and health stress. If the pilot is under too much stress, he or she may be too distracted to be a competent pilot at that time.
- “A” stands for Alcohol, and it requires the pilot to write down any alcohol consumed within the past eight hours and the past 24 hours.
- “F” stands for Fatigue, and it requires the pilot to record how much sleep the pilot was able to get in the previous 24 hours.
- “E” stands for Eating, and it requires the pilot to write down what has been consumed as far as food and drink within the last 24 hours to ensure that he or she has gotten adequate nutrition.
The pilot also has to go through and mark down his or her familiarity with the instrument panel, the model of plane being flown, and how many takeoffs and landings the pilot has experience with in that particular type of aircraft.
Passenger Safety Checklist
While the pilot is doing his or her part to ensure the aircraft will be flown safely, the passengers are also being asked to make sure they know how to remain safe during their flight. This starts when the person is checking in at the ticket counter and their luggage is checked to make sure they are not carrying anything that is on the list for banned items. Many items can go in your luggage beneath the aircraft, but almost none are allowed in carryon luggage. This list has gotten quite extensive in recent years, so here is an overview of some common banned items.
- Sharp items, such as box cutters, nearly all razor blades (aside from a disposable used for shaving), knives, scissors, and blades (axes, picks, and swords included)
- Sporting equipment, such as baseball bats, golf clubs, and ski poles
- Most firearms are alright to put in luggage beneath the plane, but none are allowed on a flight unless it is for a permitted law enforcement officer
- Tools, such as hammers, screwdrivers, drills, and crowbars
- Some martial arts equipment, such as billy clubs, throwing stars, and night sticks
- Lighters, with the only exception being specific federally approved lighters in a specified case, but a single book of safety matches is allowed per adult passenger
Passengers should also follow standard procedures, such as putting seats up, buckling up, reading the safety instructions, listening to the pre-flight information, turning off electronic devices as requested, and keeping children properly secured. You should also learn how to control your air flow, where the emergency equipment is located, just in case, and where you would exit the plane if there was any type of emergency.
Environmental Safety Checklist
The next area that the aircraft must be checked over is more about the area around the aircraft. There needs to be a check on the runway, the terrain, the weather, and the visibility. If there is anything blowing across the runway, it could cause damage to the aircraft during takeoff, causing a potential problem. The same goes if there is fog or a lot of cloud cover, so the visibility is an important factor in the safety checklist. Specific wind speeds must be calculated to ensure the plane can safely take off, and wind gusts must also be accounted for. If the speeds are too high, this can quickly ground a plane for safety purposes.
Aircraft Safety Checklist
Finally, the aircraft must also be checked over for safety. This includes both the inside and the outside of the aircraft. Maintenance records must be double checked to ensure that the plane is safe to fly. The maps and charts within the aircraft must be current so that should any navigational equipment experience a problem, the pilots have a secondary reference to use. The weight of the plane, including all of its passengers and cargo must be calculated to ensure the plane has an even weight distribution and balanced center of gravity. The tires, tire pressure, wing flaps, and propeller (if the aircraft has one) need to all be inspected for functionality as well. Also, the aircraft needs to check that all survivability equipment is on board and in good working condition.
Aircraft must go through an extensive amount of safety checks before being allowed to take off. This is to ensure everyone on board is safe and the plan arrives as planned at its destination. These checks may be frustrating when you are stuck sitting in a seat surrounded by a bunch of strangers, but you just need to remember that it is for your own good.
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