Fear of flying is one of the most common phobias there is, and what goes on behind the scenes remains a mystery to many passengers.

Is there something a pilot simply wouldn't let his passengers know is happening?

Pilot Bruno Gilossen has been asked exactly that on Q&A site Quora. This is what he has to say:

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Security related

There are probably plenty of ways (how many? I won't tell you) an airline pilot could tell you how security could be fooled or bypassed and what the weak points are. Unless it's to the correct and proper recipients of this information, it would be a bit stupid and criminal to tell you or spread that information. So we won't.

Privacy related

Passengers and personnel have the right to their privacy. Information regarding people, passengers or crew, is often forbidden by law to be thrown in the public. Pilots have to respect that. So I won't tell you that Natalie Portman will be on my flight tomorrow... for example.

Company related

Safety related issues and company documentation are considered confidential and have to stay inside the company.

The issue for the safety related things is twofold: first, there should be no openly directed blame and shame about reported errors or faults as that would only prevent people to come forward about it; second, the uninitiated greater public often has no understanding of the highly technical aspects of aviation and may think that an airplane will crash when a light bulb is broken, so to speak.

Eager journalists, ever waiting to blow up a story, are not innocent here and often stories appear in the news where an airline gets blamed for something that could happen anywhere or are in fact not so out of the ordinary.

Obviously an airline hates bad press. Severe issues are shared with the constructor of the airplane (if it is type related) and/or other airlines (if it's something that could happen to anyone). This makes the industry safer for all.

Other documents from the airline are internal and confidential simply because, like in any business, it's a smart thing not to throw all your cards on the table and let the competition look over your shoulder. Airline pilots, as company employees, of course have to abide by those rules too.

Apart from this, there's really nothing that an airline pilot can't or won't tell you. There's no conspiracy against the unsuspecting traveler.

Of course if something is quite technical in nature, the greater population can't be expected to start a course on what the issue is and therefore it's often simplified in explanations. If then someone finds out something more, it often gets 'revealed' as something the airline pilots won't tell you.

Comments

Share your thoughts and debate the big issues

Learn more
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Create a commenting name to join the debate

Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted
Loading comments...
Loading comments...
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Loading comments...
Loading comments...