akb88
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 am

Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:10 pm

So as the title says I have developed a fear of flying. Which sucks. I have another thread going elsewhere on here that has really helped me alleviate some of my turbulence based fears . But I'm still unsure about the mechanical side of flying. Especially maintenance and I thought maybe someone here could help me.

I'm flying from Iceland to Greece and back with 3 large European airlines, Icelandair, Norwegian and Condor, in April and May to visit my girlfriend. I'm having anxiety regarding airplane maintenance, I understand that Europe has the most severe safety regulations but after having seen a news segment from America about airline bosses forcing airline mechanics to hurry with the turnarounds and cutting corners during their checks. This was with AA and Southwest but it made me worry about the same thing going on in Europe. Is that possible with all the regulations in place?
Is there anyone here with experience in this field or some knowledge about it that could help me with my fears?
 
Flow2706
Posts: 171
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:20 pm

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:39 pm

I work as a pilot, not in maintenance but the maintenance guys I worked with were very professional. There is time pressure as in every business, but nobody would sign off an airplane that is not in a safe condition (also pilots will not accept an airplane if they are not convinced that is is in a safe condition - after all we will have to deal with the issues that come up and we all want to survive). Airplanes are designed with redundant systems, so even if something fails there will always be an other system that will substitute for the failed system. Most single failures don't have any effect on the flight and even if two redundant systems fail (which is highly unlikely) the airplane will still be under control.
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:12 pm

Those pressures have existed in the transportation industry ever since the schedule has been invented.

It comes down to the professionalism of the AMT’s, including the management, involved in maintaining the aircraft. I’ve been in the industry, on both sides of the labor line for over 30 years, and have absolutely no qualms about getting on an aircraft, including SWA and AA.

akb88 wrote:
Is that possible with all the regulations in place?


No regulation can overcome unprofessionalism or a lack of integrity in the individual.

Flow2706 wrote:
Airplanes are designed with redundant systems, so even if something fails there will always be an other system that will substitute for the failed system. Most single failures don't have any effect on the flight and even if two redundant systems fail (which is highly unlikely) the airplane will still be under control.


While, I understand the sentiment, the redundancy designed into an aircraft doesn't factor into my decision making process one bit when I exercise my authority to release.
When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
Unless it's expressly prohibited, it's allowed.
You are not entitled to a public safe space.
 
akb88
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:23 pm

So are all my worries unfounded then? Do I need to worry about poor maintenance in let's say Norwegian airplane. Surely it must be the case that if there is even a slight hint of doubt regarding the planes airworthiness that it's pulled from service. No matter what airline or country it comes from.
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:28 pm

akb88 wrote:
So are all my worries unfounded then? Do I need to worry about poor maintenance in let's say Norwegian airplane. Surely it must be the case that if there is even a slight hint of doubt regarding the planes airworthiness that it's pulled from service. No matter what airline or country it comes from.


I wouldn’t say any aircraft or operator, but I wouldn’t be concerned about any aircraft maintained under FAA, EASA, JAA, etc., oversight.
When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
Unless it's expressly prohibited, it's allowed.
You are not entitled to a public safe space.
 
akb88
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:53 pm

fr8mech wrote:
akb88 wrote:
So are all my worries unfounded then? Do I need to worry about poor maintenance in let's say Norwegian airplane. Surely it must be the case that if there is even a slight hint of doubt regarding the planes airworthiness that it's pulled from service. No matter what airline or country it comes from.


I wouldn’t say any aircraft or operator, but I wouldn’t be concerned about any aircraft maintained under FAA, EASA, JAA, etc., oversight.


Alright. Every airline I travel with is under these regulatory bodies. So an airline operating in Europe and North America should be a safe airline.
I feel so weird and pathetic asking all this cause I never had this issue until my late 20s
 
FlyHossD
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:59 pm

Especially during my commuter/regional (U.S.) flying days, from time to time a passenger would ask, "Is it safe?" While I always assured them that it was safe to take the flight, it was also a bit naive or even insulting as I was flying that flight. That is, would I take the airplane airborne if it wasn't safe?

I had a family with young children to come home to after each trip - spending time with them was my greatest joy AND my goal.

Pilots are the first to arrive at the scene of a accident, no? So if it's safe for your captain and first officer, it's be safe for you, too.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
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AirlineCritic
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:17 pm

fr8mech wrote:
While, I understand the sentiment, the redundancy designed into an aircraft doesn't factor into my decision making process one bit when I exercise my authority to release.


Thank you for that. (And fortunately that's true of almost every aviation professional and business, no matter where they are located.)

That being said, as you know there's is a defined minimal equipment list, and planes do go out with some known defects when they are not in parts considered essential or when there's sufficient redundancy left. But those lists have been carefully designed and vetted.

akb88 wrote:
So are all my worries unfounded then?


On the whole, I'd say yes. Flying is very safe, and there's a system making sure it is safe. This isn't to say there will never be issues, but they are exceedingly rare... and this isn't also to say that there aren't operators where you should be concerned. But for the trip you mentioned, you're safe with a very, very high likelihood.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:46 pm

akb88 wrote:
fr8mech wrote:
akb88 wrote:
So are all my worries unfounded then? Do I need to worry about poor maintenance in let's say Norwegian airplane. Surely it must be the case that if there is even a slight hint of doubt regarding the planes airworthiness that it's pulled from service. No matter what airline or country it comes from.


I wouldn’t say any aircraft or operator, but I wouldn’t be concerned about any aircraft maintained under FAA, EASA, JAA, etc., oversight.


Alright. Every airline I travel with is under these regulatory bodies. So an airline operating in Europe and North America should be a safe airline.
I feel so weird and pathetic asking all this cause I never had this issue until my late 20s


It isn't weird or pathetic. Our brains are complex things, and will produce phobias and fears. Humans certainly did not evolve to hurtle around the sky in metal tubes, or drive cars. Speaking of which, riding a car is an order of magnitude less safe than flying on the dodgiest airline in the world.

The first step is to understand that rationally speaking, there is no basis for these particular fears. That won't make them go away by itself, but it is the beginning of the process of removing the fears. Since your fears seem to be stopping you from enjoying something you wish to do (travel), I would highly recommend taking a fear of flying class. These are offered by many airlines.

As other have mentioned, pilots have a finely honed sense of self-preservation. We won't push back in an aircraft that isn't safe to fly. And the engineer won't release an aircraft that isn't safe to fly.

Is flying 100% safe? No. Nothing is 100% safe. Is it about as safe as any human activity can be made? Yes.

You also mention turbulence. To quote Patrick Smith, pilots see turbulence like sailors see waves. Turbulence is normal and part of the environment. It is something that can lead to injury, but turbulence serious enough to endanger the aircraft is given a wide berth.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:20 am

Starlionblue wrote:
The first step is to understand that rationally speaking, there is no basis for these particular fears. That won't make them go away by itself, but it is the beginning of the process of removing the fears. Since your fears seem to be stopping you from enjoying something you wish to do (travel), I would highly recommend taking a fear of flying class. These are offered by many airlines.


Years ago, pre-9/11, one of my wife’s coworkers mentioned to her that he and his fiancée were scared of flying, but were looking at a honeymoon in the Bahamas and were scared to book it. One thing led to another and I took them out to our facility on DFW to walk them through some aircraft and watch some maintenance in work.

They got more than they bargained for...a DC-8 engine change, a B727 aileron change, along with our normal package of lubes and service.

They were fascinated and watched, with great intent, the mechanics hoist, bolt-up and torque the engine.

On the way to dinner later, they remarked how impressed they were with the care taken by the mechanics on the cargo aircraft, and that surely ‘passenger’ mechanics took even more care in their work.
When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
Unless it's expressly prohibited, it's allowed.
You are not entitled to a public safe space.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:37 am

fr8mech wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
The first step is to understand that rationally speaking, there is no basis for these particular fears. That won't make them go away by itself, but it is the beginning of the process of removing the fears. Since your fears seem to be stopping you from enjoying something you wish to do (travel), I would highly recommend taking a fear of flying class. These are offered by many airlines.


Years ago, pre-9/11, one of my wife’s coworkers mentioned to her that he and his fiancée were scared of flying, but were looking at a honeymoon in the Bahamas and were scared to book it. One thing led to another and I took them out to our facility on DFW to walk them through some aircraft and watch some maintenance in work.

They got more than they bargained for...a DC-8 engine change, a B727 aileron change, along with our normal package of lubes and service.

They were fascinated and watched, with great intent, the mechanics hoist, bolt-up and torque the engine.

On the way to dinner later, they remarked how impressed they were with the care taken by the mechanics on the cargo aircraft, and that surely ‘passenger’ mechanics took even more care in their work.


Great idea taking them out to the facility. I have found that his sort of "normalising" flying for non-crew helps. Simply talking to the flight crew for a few minutes helps a lot of nervous flyers since they can see that we are completely relaxed about the situation. For pilots and cabin crew, the aircraft is the workplace, and we feel at home there. We tend to forget that for passengers, the aircraft is an often mysterious and inscrutable place. They're loaded on and told to sit down and strap in without really understanding all the stuff that goes into making the whole contraption get from A to B.

Side note: The old "cargo" vs "passenger" thing seems to be endemic. Almost every non-industry person I meet thinks that cargo and pax ops are different and have different safety standards.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:58 am

Starlionblue wrote:
Side note: The old "cargo" vs "passenger" thing seems to be endemic. Almost every non-industry person I meet thinks that cargo and pax ops are different and have different safety standards.


I felt I had pushed my amateur psychology session far enough, so I didn’t correct their perception. I really didn’t see any upside to it.
When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
Unless it's expressly prohibited, it's allowed.
You are not entitled to a public safe space.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:31 am

fr8mech wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
Side note: The old "cargo" vs "passenger" thing seems to be endemic. Almost every non-industry person I meet thinks that cargo and pax ops are different and have different safety standards.


I felt I had pushed my amateur psychology session far enough, so I didn’t correct their perception. I really didn’t see any upside to it.


Good point.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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Balerit
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:26 am

If you can, go to an airport where you can view the take-offs and landings of aircraft where you will see the most dangerous parts of a flight and I bet you won't see one incident. Now imagine that this is happening a million times a day all over the world and again there will be very few, if any, incidents.
Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (retired).
 
747Whale
Posts: 551
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Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:48 am

It intrigues me that the bent of this conversation (and thinking in general) leans toward blame. If there's a mechanical problem on board, it must be bad maintenance. The mechanic must be at fault. Airplanes don't fail or crash if the mechanic has done his job. This is a fallacy. Every bit as much as the idea that there is so much redundancy in aircraft design that an error or a failure won't cause a problem. Or a mishap. Equally fallacious is the notion that fears of mechanical failure are unfounded. Of course such fear is valid.

Can the airplane break? You bet.

Over the course of my career, I've had engines catch fire, lose all the oil, fail to partial power, compressor stall, pour fuel, overspeed, or simply fail. I've had hydraulics rupture, actuator seals blow out, landing gear fail down, fail up, flaps blow up, bleed down, an aircraft filled with misted hydraulic fluid, smoke in the cockpit, onboard fires, pneumatic failures, two explosive depressurizations and another rapid one, ice failures controls, fuselage, and engines burned through with lightning, electrical fires and electrical failures, blown tires, brake failures, runaway trim and autopilots, failed instrumentation, total electrical failures, and cracked wings. Five aircraft that I've flown have had the wings crack completely through, and in two cases the wings separated from the aircraft, killing all aboard (I wasn't aboard at the time, quite clearly). These things to name a few on the tip of the ice berg.

Lest some idiot quip "remind me never to fly with you" as idiots are wont to do, these occurred in all kinds of aircraft and all kinds of operations over the course of many years, and are a few of the things I've experienced personally, but a drop in the bucket compared to the things I've seen in aviation, and those who would suggest that these are isolated or don't happen to aircraft they fly are either willfully blind or so foolishly naive as to have no credibility. This is the reality of things. Whether it's a 737 blowing its top or one exploding on the ramp due to tank vapor (or a 747, for that matter) or a gear collapse on a runway, these things can and do continue to happen. Aircraft are mechanical objects and they're complex, and often due to the fault of no one, they do break. We work hard to mitigate this, we maintain well, we fly carefully, but whether it's the collective stress of landings or pressure cycles or a stress riser in an unseen place (even from manufacture), parts, and assemblies of parts can and do fail. That's the reality. It is never a matter of if. It is always a matter of when.

The other reality is that the when doesn't occur often. The when occurs more often in some operations than others, in some types of equipment than others, and in some situations than others. It occurs less frequently in most airline operations than other areas.

Radial engines fail with some regularity. We don't use radial engines in the airlines. Engines that are used irregularly and inconsistently fail more often than those that are operated the same way and operated frequently, and airline operations are very standardized and constant, and maintenance occurs between almost every operation (for some airlines). Instruments and avionics that sit tend to experience far more failures than those that are used frequently, and airline operations use them constantly, and replace them immediately when a problem occurs.

Many aircraft get inspected once every 100 hours, some only once a year. Airline inspections are daily, weekly, and have large-scale, complex phase inspections that dismantle entire sections of the aircraft to examine every component. Every pilot that flies the aircraft writes up each discrepancy, after each flight, which is attended to by maintenance before the aircraft can fly the next flight. Airline operations fly to and from airfields with multiple instrument approach procedures, in nearly all cases accompanied by experienced controllers and excellent radar. Guidance is by satellite, internal gyro and solid state navigation, ground beacons, and radar services. Weather reporting is available in advance and is very good, in flight in real time, and by weather radar advanced enough to predict and warn of wind changes on an approach, and which can color code the amount of precipitation and activity 80 or 160 miles ahead of the aircraft, enabling avoidance and navigation around dangerous weather. Mechanics have access to tools, diagnostic and informational, far more advanced than what we once had, including aircraft that sense, sometimes diagnose, and present their problems, and systems that are modular and separated in some cases to isolate a problem and fix. Pilots have available the best simulation and training possible in the history of aviation, so that by the time a new pilot reaches the seat in the actual aircraft, he or she has already experienced and handled everything from onboard cargo fires to hydraulic, flap, and system failures, successfully, while graded and evaluated, instructed and trained, and has been the subject of tests, inspections, checkrides, and evaluations dozens or hundreds of times, and will continue to be throughout his or her career. That's the reality of climbing into an airliner today.

Yes, mechanical problems can occur. It really is possible to fly into volcanic ash and lose four engines; it's happened three times in the past. It really is possible to have an engine catastrophically fail and take out not one, but all three hydraulic systems, rendering all flight controls inoperative. It really is possible for the top third of a 737 to blow off the aircraft in flight. Or a 747 to explode. Or have a cargo fire. It happens, and has happened.

Airline operations move millions of passengers daily, operate thousands of hours, and span the globe, and are airborne around the clock. When we view these mishaps, these incidents, they do occur, but are so infrequent as to assure you that if it happens on your flight, it's your time and always was...but are so rare as to be experienced by few. There are many pilots who will go their careers, for example, and not experience but a fraction of this. Think of that; a pilot who dedicates his entire lifetime to. not just an occasional flight, but daily flight, and is exposed to flying at a rate many orders of magnitude over that of any passenger, and yet looks back without every having seen a hiccup. Indeed, most of the events I related above didn't happen on airline flights, but in other kinds of flying, many of which put the aircraft to considerably more hazard and stress than airline flying.

Are your fears valid. Absolutely. It does no good to suggest fear has no basis. It's like telling a child not to be afraid of the dark. It doesn't make the fear go away. You can tell me all day long that spiders are harmless. It won't help. You can tell me the hotel won't catch fire. It doesn't change the way I feel. And you can tell me that heights aren't a problem so long as I don't fall down. It doesn't matter. I'm fascinated by spiders but they paralyze me, I was caught in two burning buildings as a kid, and I've been in intensive care as the result of a fall. I don't care what the rational explanations are, and my pet kid fears will be the same fears in old age (the only difference being that as I get older, it matters less and less what happens to me). Your fears are valid, and they're your fears.

You can go on your flight, however, armed with the knowledge that while your fears are valid, and while nobody can talk you out of them, and while you're going to arrive at your destination safely and without incident, there's plenty to worry about, and worry you will. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. Those are your fears and you're entitled, and justified. Aircraft are complex; most have no concept of just how much there is that can go wrong on an aircraft. Big, thick stacks of books contain that information, and the books and manuals and diagrams and charts and guides and references and handbooks are incredibly complex and technical; so complex that they spell out the diameter and placement of every rivet in the aircraft, and they really do account for literally anything that can happen to or go wrong with that aircraft, as do the checklists and quick reference handbooks in the cockpit.

Try this. When I get in the door of an airplane, I'm full of trepidation; when I go out the door of the airplane into freefall (yes: I'm afraid of heights. This is true. But I also pick up spiders, fly into forest fires and jump out of airplanes. We face our fears to deal with them, rather than running away), there's nothing more I can do about height and I certainly can't prevent the fall at that point, as my decision was made when I left the airplane. I've made my choice, so I don't focus on height any more. When you get on board your next flight, you've made your choice. There's nothing you can do about the turbulence, or about a mechanical problem. Focus on watching the scenery out the window. Or reading a good book. Or watching the inflight movie.

I recommend Deadpool.
 
hitower3
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:55 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:37 am

Dear akb88,

First of all I appreciate your open words a lot - expressing your fear certainly is a good first step to overcome it.

Technical arguments like "flying is an extremely safe means of transport" are certainly valid and proven, but they likely won't help you to overcome your fear.
From a psychological standpoint a fear is always linked to something unknown. And being enclosed in a metal tube flying at 850km/h in an atmosphere showing pressures 5 times lower than on the ground and temperatures lower than inside your deep freezer, piloted by two people unknown to you, etc certainly bears a lot of unknowns. Your fear is therefore a perfectly normal and natural reaction of your body, that is trying to protect you from (assumed) risks and dangers.

So, what can you do about it? The obvious way to go is to eliminate or to reduce the unknowns as much as possible.
- Maybe your departure airport offers some guided tours?
- Or as mentioned in a post above, you can even have the opportunity to visit the maintenance dep't of the airline.
- You may also look into Youtube videos - I know about some channels who give insightful views about technical aspects of airliner operations; try a search for "Mentour Pilot" or "Captain Joe".
- Maybe one of the airlines you may elect to fly with offers a "fear of flying" seminar - I know Lufthansa does.

The more you allow yourself to absorb information before taking the actual flight, the less unknowns will remain when you get aboard. In case you still feel insecure, you may want to inform the cabin crew. They are professionals who are trained to deal with exactly these situations.

I hope these informations are useful for you - I wish you an enjoyable flight!
Hendric
 
akb88
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:12 pm

747Whale wrote:
It intrigues me that the bent of this conversation (and thinking in general) leans toward blame. If there's a mechanical problem on board, it must be bad maintenance. The mechanic must be at fault. Airplanes don't fail or crash if the mechanic has done his job. This is a fallacy. Every bit as much as the idea that there is so much redundancy in aircraft design that an error or a failure won't cause a problem. Or a mishap. Equally fallacious is the notion that fears of mechanical failure are unfounded. Of course such fear is valid.

Can the airplane break? You bet.

Over the course of my career, I've had engines catch fire, lose all the oil, fail to partial power, compressor stall, pour fuel, overspeed, or simply fail. I've had hydraulics rupture, actuator seals blow out, landing gear fail down, fail up, flaps blow up, bleed down, an aircraft filled with misted hydraulic fluid, smoke in the cockpit, onboard fires, pneumatic failures, two explosive depressurizations and another rapid one, ice failures controls, fuselage, and engines burned through with lightning, electrical fires and electrical failures, blown tires, brake failures, runaway trim and autopilots, failed instrumentation, total electrical failures, and cracked wings. Five aircraft that I've flown have had the wings crack completely through, and in two cases the wings separated from the aircraft, killing all aboard (I wasn't aboard at the time, quite clearly). These things to name a few on the tip of the ice berg.

Lest some idiot quip "remind me never to fly with you" as idiots are wont to do, these occurred in all kinds of aircraft and all kinds of operations over the course of many years, and are a few of the things I've experienced personally, but a drop in the bucket compared to the things I've seen in aviation, and those who would suggest that these are isolated or don't happen to aircraft they fly are either willfully blind or so foolishly naive as to have no credibility. This is the reality of things. Whether it's a 737 blowing its top or one exploding on the ramp due to tank vapor (or a 747, for that matter) or a gear collapse on a runway, these things can and do continue to happen. Aircraft are mechanical objects and they're complex, and often due to the fault of no one, they do break. We work hard to mitigate this, we maintain well, we fly carefully, but whether it's the collective stress of landings or pressure cycles or a stress riser in an unseen place (even from manufacture), parts, and assemblies of parts can and do fail. That's the reality. It is never a matter of if. It is always a matter of when.

The other reality is that the when doesn't occur often. The when occurs more often in some operations than others, in some types of equipment than others, and in some situations than others. It occurs less frequently in most airline operations than other areas.

Radial engines fail with some regularity. We don't use radial engines in the airlines. Engines that are used irregularly and inconsistently fail more often than those that are operated the same way and operated frequently, and airline operations are very standardized and constant, and maintenance occurs between almost every operation (for some airlines). Instruments and avionics that sit tend to experience far more failures than those that are used frequently, and airline operations use them constantly, and replace them immediately when a problem occurs.

Many aircraft get inspected once every 100 hours, some only once a year. Airline inspections are daily, weekly, and have large-scale, complex phase inspections that dismantle entire sections of the aircraft to examine every component. Every pilot that flies the aircraft writes up each discrepancy, after each flight, which is attended to by maintenance before the aircraft can fly the next flight. Airline operations fly to and from airfields with multiple instrument approach procedures, in nearly all cases accompanied by experienced controllers and excellent radar. Guidance is by satellite, internal gyro and solid state navigation, ground beacons, and radar services. Weather reporting is available in advance and is very good, in flight in real time, and by weather radar advanced enough to predict and warn of wind changes on an approach, and which can color code the amount of precipitation and activity 80 or 160 miles ahead of the aircraft, enabling avoidance and navigation around dangerous weather. Mechanics have access to tools, diagnostic and informational, far more advanced than what we once had, including aircraft that sense, sometimes diagnose, and present their problems, and systems that are modular and separated in some cases to isolate a problem and fix. Pilots have available the best simulation and training possible in the history of aviation, so that by the time a new pilot reaches the seat in the actual aircraft, he or she has already experienced and handled everything from onboard cargo fires to hydraulic, flap, and system failures, successfully, while graded and evaluated, instructed and trained, and has been the subject of tests, inspections, checkrides, and evaluations dozens or hundreds of times, and will continue to be throughout his or her career. That's the reality of climbing into an airliner today.

Yes, mechanical problems can occur. It really is possible to fly into volcanic ash and lose four engines; it's happened three times in the past. It really is possible to have an engine catastrophically fail and take out not one, but all three hydraulic systems, rendering all flight controls inoperative. It really is possible for the top third of a 737 to blow off the aircraft in flight. Or a 747 to explode. Or have a cargo fire. It happens, and has happened.

Airline operations move millions of passengers daily, operate thousands of hours, and span the globe, and are airborne around the clock. When we view these mishaps, these incidents, they do occur, but are so infrequent as to assure you that if it happens on your flight, it's your time and always was...but are so rare as to be experienced by few. There are many pilots who will go their careers, for example, and not experience but a fraction of this. Think of that; a pilot who dedicates his entire lifetime to. not just an occasional flight, but daily flight, and is exposed to flying at a rate many orders of magnitude over that of any passenger, and yet looks back without every having seen a hiccup. Indeed, most of the events I related above didn't happen on airline flights, but in other kinds of flying, many of which put the aircraft to considerably more hazard and stress than airline flying.

Are your fears valid. Absolutely. It does no good to suggest fear has no basis. It's like telling a child not to be afraid of the dark. It doesn't make the fear go away. You can tell me all day long that spiders are harmless. It won't help. You can tell me the hotel won't catch fire. It doesn't change the way I feel. And you can tell me that heights aren't a problem so long as I don't fall down. It doesn't matter. I'm fascinated by spiders but they paralyze me, I was caught in two burning buildings as a kid, and I've been in intensive care as the result of a fall. I don't care what the rational explanations are, and my pet kid fears will be the same fears in old age (the only difference being that as I get older, it matters less and less what happens to me). Your fears are valid, and they're your fears.

You can go on your flight, however, armed with the knowledge that while your fears are valid, and while nobody can talk you out of them, and while you're going to arrive at your destination safely and without incident, there's plenty to worry about, and worry you will. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. Those are your fears and you're entitled, and justified. Aircraft are complex; most have no concept of just how much there is that can go wrong on an aircraft. Big, thick stacks of books contain that information, and the books and manuals and diagrams and charts and guides and references and handbooks are incredibly complex and technical; so complex that they spell out the diameter and placement of every rivet in the aircraft, and they really do account for literally anything that can happen to or go wrong with that aircraft, as do the checklists and quick reference handbooks in the cockpit.

Try this. When I get in the door of an airplane, I'm full of trepidation; when I go out the door of the airplane into freefall (yes: I'm afraid of heights. This is true. But I also pick up spiders, fly into forest fires and jump out of airplanes. We face our fears to deal with them, rather than running away), there's nothing more I can do about height and I certainly can't prevent the fall at that point, as my decision was made when I left the airplane. I've made my choice, so I don't focus on height any more. When you get on board your next flight, you've made your choice. There's nothing you can do about the turbulence, or about a mechanical problem. Focus on watching the scenery out the window. Or reading a good book. Or watching the inflight movie.

I recommend Deadpool.


Wow that's a very detailed post. So despite all the things that have happened in your career you don't have any issues going on a plane? Although granted you said most if these weren't with an airline but other kinds of aircrafts.
My problem is that I know that all those things scan happen and have happened. I've seen all the documentaries. But they are so rare right? I need to learn that, I've read that it's impossible to actually make a meaningful assesment percentage wise on how safe flying is since crashes are so incredibly rare that there isn't enough data to get a meaningful percentage.
 
747Whale
Posts: 551
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:41 pm

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:16 pm

I don't have too much of an issue getting on the airplane. I'm the pilot.

People can talk about statistic probability all they want. I've taken the classes, and all that counts is where the rubber meets the runway.

What are the odds of the engine failing on takeoff? One out of two: either it will, or it won't.

We plan for it either way.
 
akb88
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:07 pm

All the things you listed though. They are mechanical failures that can and do occur on a much more regular basis in cars, trains and boats and I wouldn't blink an eye if anything like that would happen on a train I m in
 
747Whale
Posts: 551
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:41 pm

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:12 pm

There you go. I don't like boats. They sink, and the water is full of large, bulbous critters with sharp, pointy teeth.

And pirates.

It's all relative.

I can't get on a roller coaster without wondering about the integrity of the welds, fatigue in the tracks and the structure on the coaster itself. In fact, that's all that really concerns me on one. It's enough to not get on one.

Airplanes...we fly the largest remaining piece back home. In most cases, everyone is still attached to that same piece, so we're all good.
 
ELBOB
Posts: 157
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:56 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:29 am

akb88 wrote:
I understand that Europe has the most severe safety regulations but after having seen a news segment from America about airline bosses forcing airline mechanics to hurry with the turnarounds and cutting corners during their checks. This was with AA and Southwest but it made me worry about the same thing going on in Europe. Is that possible with all the regulations in place?


Stop watching "the news", seriously. It's shallow, sensationalist junk. The news-cycle is designed around hype and urgency and look how it has worked on you.

You will be mentally healthier and more content if you follow and engage in developments in your neighborhood / city and in your spheres of interest. Become an active citizen instead of a consumer of gossip.
 
VSMUT
Posts: 2222
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:40 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:27 am

akb88 wrote:
So as the title says I have developed a fear of flying. Which sucks. I have another thread going elsewhere on here that has really helped me alleviate some of my turbulence based fears . But I'm still unsure about the mechanical side of flying. Especially maintenance and I thought maybe someone here could help me.

I'm flying from Iceland to Greece and back with 3 large European airlines, Icelandair, Norwegian and Condor, in April and May to visit my girlfriend. I'm having anxiety regarding airplane maintenance, I understand that Europe has the most severe safety regulations but after having seen a news segment from America about airline bosses forcing airline mechanics to hurry with the turnarounds and cutting corners during their checks. This was with AA and Southwest but it made me worry about the same thing going on in Europe. Is that possible with all the regulations in place?
Is there anyone here with experience in this field or some knowledge about it that could help me with my fears?



It definitely is possible to cheat. Inspectors can only do so much. The industry relies on trust, and some airlines, even in the EU, misuse it.

That having been said, Icelandair and Condor are extremely competent airlines, and I would never hesitate to set foot on them. The planes return to a central maintenance base every night, they don't hop around Europe for several weeks without seeing an engineer. Northern European CAAs like Iceland and Germany are also among the most strict and thorough in the industry. It's not like the Irish who are understaffed and underfunded.
 
akb88
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:02 pm

VSMUT wrote:
akb88 wrote:
So as the title says I have developed a fear of flying. Which sucks. I have another thread going elsewhere on here that has really helped me alleviate some of my turbulence based fears . But I'm still unsure about the mechanical side of flying. Especially maintenance and I thought maybe someone here could help me.

I'm flying from Iceland to Greece and back with 3 large European airlines, Icelandair, Norwegian and Condor, in April and May to visit my girlfriend. I'm having anxiety regarding airplane maintenance, I understand that Europe has the most severe safety regulations but after having seen a news segment from America about airline bosses forcing airline mechanics to hurry with the turnarounds and cutting corners during their checks. This was with AA and Southwest but it made me worry about the same thing going on in Europe. Is that possible with all the regulations in place?
Is there anyone here with experience in this field or some knowledge about it that could help me with my fears?



It definitely is possible to cheat. Inspectors can only do so much. The industry relies on trust, and some airlines, even in the EU, misuse it.

That having been said, Icelandair and Condor are extremely competent airlines, and I would never hesitate to set foot on them. The planes return to a central maintenance base every night, they don't hop around Europe for several weeks without seeing an engineer. Northern European CAAs like Iceland and Germany are also among the most strict and thorough in the industry. It's not like the Irish who are understaffed and underfunded.


Well it's good to know that my country is at the forefront of security in the industry. I'm assuming it's similar for the rest of the Nordics, Finnair for example seem to have a perfect record on all fronts.
Hopefully Norwegian also have a decent work ethic, their planes do jump around Europe quite a bit but since I'm flying from their base at Gardermoen I expect the plane to have been inspected by someone there.
 
akb88
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:45 pm

Now that I'm feeling better about the mechanical side of my flight and the fact it's highly unlikely anything will happen I still need to figure out my turbulence anxiety, especially my anticipatory anxiety about turbulence.
 
Georgetown
Posts: 400
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:50 pm

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:39 pm

Some truly great perspectives provided on here from professionals. I can’t say word one from that perspective, but I can give you the the perspective of a business traveler that flies a ton. Before I flew a lot, I was a very nervous flier that would have anxiety set to a low simmer for days, sometimes even weeks, before a flight. That said I have always been fascinated by airplanes and have been a plane spotter since I was a young teenager.

Now for my job I fly every few days, which translates to a couple hundred thousand miles per year. Getting on an airplane has become as routine for me as getting in my car and driving to the office. I don’t even think about it and certainly don’t worry about it. I often couldn’t tell you if a flight was turbulent or not frankly because it’s so commonplace that you become desensitized to a degree. Obviously a big part of going from a worrier to where I am now was simply a function of repetition but I will say that I can pintpoint the moment when my whole mindset shifted. It was after my first two week stretch of insane travel. Every single day for two weeks I was on a plane to a different city come evening. It became part of my daily routine. But the lightbulb went on for me when I realized that even though those 14 flights seemed like an insane amount of flights to me, at any busy airport there might be 14 planes pushing back from the gate to start a journey every few minutes. Multiply that over the course of a day and then multiply that across hundreds of major airports and those numbers get very big, very fast. Then take those huge numbers and do it again the next day, and the day after and so on. With all those thousands upon thousands of flights worldwide you nary hear about a major incident. I felt like I was being extremely arrogant to think something major would happen to a flight I’m on. That’s when everything shifted for me - and my takeaway for you is that sure, a good chunk of back to back flying helped, but it was a mental shift in my thinking that made the difference.

So, those planes you’re going to be flying on in a couple months? Odds are they are in the air at this very moment, and if not this very moment they will be within minutes or hours. And each one of those planes will complete up to a hundred and maybe more flights before it’s their turn to pick you up. I’d be more concerned about the 50-100 slobs sitting in your seat before you and what germs they leave behind!

Try to have fun and remember that somewhere on your flight is a jaded business traveller like me who used to worry about the flight but is now more concerned about getting the whole can of soda from the flight attendant.

Also worth noting: in my 100+ flights per year, every few years I’ll notice something I haven’t heard before - a noise, a vibration, etc - and I always come to this forum and ask about it. Without fail I get an answer about what it was within an hour, sometimes minutes. And without fail, even though it’s something I rarely encounter, it’s something that happens on 100s of flights per day, every day.

Pretty cool stuff.
Let's go Hoyas!
 
akb88
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:00 am

Georgetown wrote:
Some truly great perspectives provided on here from professionals. I can’t say word one from that perspective, but I can give you the the perspective of a business traveler that flies a ton. Before I flew a lot, I was a very nervous flier that would have anxiety set to a low simmer for days, sometimes even weeks, before a flight. That said I have always been fascinated by airplanes and have been a plane spotter since I was a young teenager.

Now for my job I fly every few days, which translates to a couple hundred thousand miles per year. Getting on an airplane has become as routine for me as getting in my car and driving to the office. I don’t even think about it and certainly don’t worry about it. I often couldn’t tell you if a flight was turbulent or not frankly because it’s so commonplace that you become desensitized to a degree. Obviously a big part of going from a worrier to where I am now was simply a function of repetition but I will say that I can pintpoint the moment when my whole mindset shifted. It was after my first two week stretch of insane travel. Every single day for two weeks I was on a plane to a different city come evening. It became part of my daily routine. But the lightbulb went on for me when I realized that even though those 14 flights seemed like an insane amount of flights to me, at any busy airport there might be 14 planes pushing back from the gate to start a journey every few minutes. Multiply that over the course of a day and then multiply that across hundreds of major airports and those numbers get very big, very fast. Then take those huge numbers and do it again the next day, and the day after and so on. With all those thousands upon thousands of flights worldwide you nary hear about a major incident. I felt like I was being extremely arrogant to think something major would happen to a flight I’m on. That’s when everything shifted for me - and my takeaway for you is that sure, a good chunk of back to back flying helped, but it was a mental shift in my thinking that made the difference.

So, those planes you’re going to be flying on in a couple months? Odds are they are in the air at this very moment, and if not this very moment they will be within minutes or hours. And each one of those planes will complete up to a hundred and maybe more flights before it’s their turn to pick you up. I’d be more concerned about the 50-100 slobs sitting in your seat before you and what germs they leave behind!

Try to have fun and remember that somewhere on your flight is a jaded business traveller like me who used to worry about the flight but is now more concerned about getting the whole can of soda from the flight attendant.

Also worth noting: in my 100+ flights per year, every few years I’ll notice something I haven’t heard before - a noise, a vibration, etc - and I always come to this forum and ask about it. Without fail I get an answer about what it was within an hour, sometimes minutes. And without fail, even though it’s something I rarely encounter, it’s something that happens on 100s of flights per day, every day.

Pretty cool stuff.


Yeah coming here helps. I do hope that someday I will not be bothered by turbulence and that I will never experience the catastrophic ones I'm imagining.
 
747Whale
Posts: 551
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:41 pm

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:09 am

I've been flying for nearly four decades, much of it professionally. I've certainly experienced severe and extreme turbulence, but invariably it's been doing something other than passenger flying. Most of it has been flying close to mountains during firefighting operations, something that you won't experience as a paying passenger. In airline operations, while turbulence is part of flying, it's nearly always light to occasionally moderate. Airlines work hard to avoid turbulence. We make turbulence reports to air traffic control, change altitudes to avoid it or minimize it, and receive regular ride reports. Flights are planned to avoid it, minimize it, or minimize the time exposed to it. It's rare that you can't have a glass of water or soda on your tray table; you might see a ripple in the water, but very, very seldom any more than that.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 2246
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Fear of flying, working on getting better but still scared about maintenance

Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:19 pm

As my F-100 IP would say, “you pay your money and take your chances; you can’t live forever”. Kept me in good stead flying for 45 years.

GF

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