Hi Capt Lim,
May I first of all congratulate you on your website. I have found it very informative about the many aspects of air travel that I had never even thought of. Unfortunately, I am one of your readers that hasn't had much air time experience. I have only flown twice, once to Belgium and once to Austria (both times from London Heathrow). So I will give you a little of my background and my predicament before I get to the questions!
As a 22 year old student, part of my University degree is moving me to Pennsylvania on August 18th 2003 to study as an exchange student. The flight that I will be taking is aboard a Boeing 777, flying to Chicago with American Airlines, which is 8 hours long. Not having flown that much, I have found that I enjoy the take off very much. But once I am in the air, I am nervous to the point that I physically suffer, whether nausea or just become overly stressed and paranoid, and not relaxing until I get out of the sky! I am also a Data Analyst, and after reading your facts and figures, you would think that someone that works with figures should be relieved by such good odds. However, this is not the case and my eyes have probably been opened to a whole host of other problems I never even thought of. This is far from a criticism as I, and I am sure all of your other visitors appreciate you honesty when talking about these issues.
I was reading one of your passages regarding engine failure and that the Boeing can run on only one engine for a prolonged distance, also that on long distance flights the aircraft is always within an hour of a airfield. Forgive me for sounding stupid but how does this work on trans Atlantic flights? I am assuming the landing strip is the Ocean (slightly reassuring after your extract about ditching)!!
The other question that I have is, with regards to your kindness to one of your nervous passengers by showing him the cockpit. This, I assume is not possible anymore due to the locked cockpit rules, but I was wondering whether Airlines provided any services for people like myself that are overtly nervous at a additional cost or as part of their standard service to try and relieve the stress of traveling.
Thanks for taking the time to read my email and I look forward to hearing from you. Keep up the good work,
If you had read one of my answer on ETOPS (extended twin engine operations), I believe you would have a better picture of flying long haul flights over the ocean with twin-engine airplanes. Today, due to the reliability of engines, Aviation Authorities have permitted some twin-engine airplanes to fly on a route with diversion airports as long as three hours away. The original ruling during the days of propeller engines was that, all flights must stay within one hour away from any suitable airports.
I have done a lot of trans-Atlantic flights between the US and Europe and in reality, I was always around one or one and a half hours away from any diversion airports. I believe the fact you quoted about being within an hour away from any airfield must be the one I explained in a previous query regarding Boeing 777 flights between Dubai and Perth in Australia. Yes, there are many International Airports suitable for big jets scattered around the Atlantic Ocean, such as Santa Maria or Larjes in the Azores, Bermuda, Keflavik (Iceland) and Gander in New Foundland.
I know the ban on cockpit visits has deprived many genuine nervous flyers a chance to talk to the Captain but since Sep 11, FAA feels security is paramount. But not all is lost! There are still many courses on Fear of Flying provided by various consultants. In some of these courses, you may even have the opportunity to talk to some Airline Captains, Aircraft Engineers or Flight Controllers about safety and the airplane. You may be able to find some in my Link page too.