Why DO you have to put your seat-back up for landing and are phones really a hazard? The truth behind those pesky plane rules revealed

Half of passengers don't turn their phones off for take-off, despite being told to. Photo / 123RF
Half of passengers don't turn their phones off for take-off, despite being told to. Photo / 123RF

You are far more likely to die in a road accident than you are in a plane crash - yet most buses don't even have seatbelts.

So what's the basis behind the exhaustive (and at times infuriating) list of in-flight safety requirements?

MailOnline Travel spoke to pilots and aviation experts about why passengers have to put their seat-backs up, raise their window shutters and banish their phones before take-off and landing.

As for why we have to raise our windows to prepare for landing, Aviation Safety Network CEO, Harro Ranter, explains: "Should an evacuation become necessary, it's important to have an outside view so you can decide if that side is safe.

"If flames are visible on that side, you'd need to evacuate through an​other exit."

British Airways' head of flight and technical training, Captain Dave Thomas, added:
"This is actually required by regulation so you get accustomed to the amount of light outside the aircraft if you ever had to disembark in a hurry.

"This is the sort of 'just in case' approach we take to the safety of our customers to ensure flying is as safe as we can possibly make it."

Passengers are required to raise their windows for landing so they are better accustomed to the light in the event of an evacuation - this being the riskiest part of a flight. Photo / 123RF
Passengers are required to raise their windows for landing so they are better accustomed to the light in the event of an evacuation - this being the riskiest part of a flight. Photo / 123RF

It seems obvious that tray tables should be up for take-off and landing so as not hinder a possible evacuation but what about seat backs? Would those few inches really make a difference?

According to Mr Ranter, yes.

"It'd be more difficult to assume a brace-for-impact position should there be an emergency," he explains.

And why must passengers relinquish items like headphones, pillows and blankets before landing? Has anyone ever suffered a mortal injury by way of flying cushion?

"​Anything lying around in the cabin can hamper a possible evacuation," he insists. "But also, I guess it's more efficient for cabin crew, so there's less time spent on cleaning up after landing."

The debate still rages on, it would seem, regarding the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices during take-off and landing.

"Phones must be off so signals do not interfere with aircraft electronics like navigational systems," Mr Ranter states, as we are often told during safety demonstrations.

However, pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, told The Telegraph last year: "At least half of all phones, whether inadvertently or out of laziness, are left on during flight."

In a blog post for AirlineUpdates, another pilot wrote that transmitting mobiles are more irksome for the pilot than dangerous.

According to one pilot, the interference caused when passengers don't switch their phones to flight mode is more annoying than dangerous. Photo / 123RF
According to one pilot, the interference caused when passengers don't switch their phones to flight mode is more annoying than dangerous. Photo / 123RF

"You've probably heard this interference yourself when a phone is set near a speaker," he explained. "It sounds like a 'dit-dit-dit-dit' tone and it's pretty annoying."

Finally, there's a good reason why all these regulations come into play during the beginning and end of the flight - while the rest of the time passengers are largely left alone.

"Most fatal accidents - around 40 per cent of them - happen during landing," Mr Ranter explains. "Yet, chances of survival are much higher.​"

If you happen to nose-dive into the ocean during the cruise phase, however, the position of your seat won't help you.

"Occupants will be killed on impact," he concludes.

- Daily Mail

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