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Home > Fear of Flying > Many questions from a fearful flier...
Many questions from a fearful flier...
Flying - Fear of Flying
Saturday, 17 December 2011 06:35

TCAS Alert

Hey Captain Lim,

I have a fear of flying. Here are my questions with respect to commercial airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Air China. I read earlier posts but don't seems to find answers to my questions. Getting knowledge might decrease my fears. Thanks for reading and helping:-

1. I fear of plane coming on top accidently or my plane hitting the one underneath. Does a pilot knows how many planes are flying around him and at what heights? Recently, a Japan airlines plane went down a few hundred feet and it could have hit the plane flying below (I read it in earlier posts here that the  pilot presses a wrong button)

2. Is it true that planes fly under each other?

3. So, do planes have cameras on top, bottom and around so they know in advance if some other planes are accidently coming towards them? With camera installed, a pilot can see if other planes are coming on its top and can do something to avoid the collision.

4. How does the communication works once plane is in the air? Can a pilot communicate with other pilots who are flying close by?

5. Thrust issue: Let's say a plane loses its thrust going from Vancouver to Hong Kong, are there enough airports below so that it can land somewhere?

6. How long can a plane fly if it losses all the engines thrust? Do pilots choose flight path so that they can land safely in case plane loses all of its thrust?

I know that there are many airports going from Vancouver to Asia over Pacific Ocean; so if a plane loses thrust; it's still safer than flying from Toronto to England as there are no airports in the Atlantic Ocean. What you guys think?

7. Why don't airlines give parachutes to passengers? Would it not be a good idea that  in an emergency passengers can  jump out with parachutes before the plane crashes?


Hi Manny,

Most of what you asked has been answered before. Anyway, here are some brief answers:-

1. Yes, pilots are aware of all traffic around the plane. They get all the information from the TCAS - Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System. In fact, the TCAS even warn pilots if their planes are on a collision course and direct them on what to do to prevent the collision.

2. Yes, planes do fly under each other separated by between 1000 to 2000 feet. This is normal.

3. Planes do not require cameras at the top, bottom or all around to view other traffic. TCAS, as mentioned above can do the job better. However, the more advanced Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 do have cameras positioned at strategic locations mainly to view the plane exterior due to its size or to manoeuvre on the ground rather than to spot other planes.

4. Yes, pilots can communicate with other planes in the air either through a common radio frequency or via an emergency frequency.

5. In an emergency when a plane is forced to land, there are enough airports between Vancouver and Hong Kong for the plane to divert to.

6. Losing all engines is a very remote possibility. Nevertheless, in the event that it does happen, a plane can glide for about 100 miles from around 40,000 feet.

There are sufficient airports between Toronto and England for a plane to divert to in case of a medical emergency or a single engine failure.

The route to be flown are planned by qualified dispatchers based on the shortest distance and weather along the journey. The routes have to satisfy legal requirments such that they are always within a diversion airport at any point.

7. I have written an article that answers your question about passengers and parachutes in the Travel 3Sixty magazine here.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

How TCAS works


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