A Better Flight Plan
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This is your Captain Speaking

If you would like to submit a question for our pilot Q&A series, send an email to blog@airlines.org.

What is involved in the pre-flight or safety check process? – Kevin L.

Before every flight, pilots and flight attendants conduct pre-flight safety checks of the aircraft. Pilots do what’s called a “walk around” inspection of the exterior of the plane looking at things like tire pressure and wing/engine conditions. The cockpit pre-flight inspection checks flight instruments, navigation computers, warning systems and radios. Flight attendants inspect cabin safety equipment, check smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and ensure that basic cabin functions like the public address system and lighting are operating properly. In addition to daily inspections, aircraft are subject to various levels of maintenance checks that occur based on flight hours.

What do the in-flight bells mean? – Beth B.

The bells or chimes are a form of communication between various areas of the plane. For example, a single chime means a passenger call button has been pressed. Other chime combinations indicate calls or messages between the flight deck and cabin crew and vary from airline to airline.

How do pilots determine when to use autopilot? – David F.

Autopilot is used to control aircraft speed, altitude, bank angle and pitch, and can be used during every phase of flight except takeoff. A pilot’s use of autopilot is usually dependent on a number of factors including weather conditions, individual airline procedures, aircraft type and phase of flight.

Thanks for submitting your questions!

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