Flight secrets: Pilot explains why training makes cockpit announcements so ‘harrowing’

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Pilots have the hugely important task of flying the plane and making sure everyone gets safely from A to B. Occasionally during the flight, a pilot will address the aircraft passengers. However, their words may in fact serve to escalate anxiety rather than diminish it.

Pilot Patrick Smith shared insight into this in his book Cockpit Confidential.

He explained that pilot training can lead aviators to worry jet-setters with their lack of decent explanations.

Pilots are told to say nothing rather than trouble the passengers.

Unfortunately, this “counterproductive” approach can have the opposite effect.

“Of all front-line employees, pilots are potentially the most valuable for soothing anxieties and explaining the nuances of abnormal situations,” Smith wrote in his 2013 book.

“Unfortunately, customer service training for pilots is bare minimum and one result is a tendency to say as little as possible – a default policy of evasive simplification.

“This is obviously counterproductive, and never more so than those times when minor abnormalities are made to sound harrowing.”

The pilot recalled an incident which took place when he was once flying as a passenger.

“Just before landing, the pilots aborted the landing and went around,” Smith wrote.

“There was no reason to believe anything remotely serious had occurred but the sense of fright emanating from those around me was palpable.

“Eventually one of the pilots gave us an explanation. ‘Ah, well, sorry about that,’ he began.

“‘Another plane cut in front of us on the runway, so we needed to break off the landing. We’re circling back and I will be landing in a few minutes.’

“Nothing else was offered. I sat there in silent anguish. ‘Please, say more,’ I thought. ‘You need to say more.’

“But he didn’t, and rather than quell the passengers’ anxieties he had made them worse.”

The problem, according to Smith, lies with how pilots told to behave.

“For better or worse, pilots get almost no formal training on how to speak to passengers,” said Smith.

“What to say and how to say it is mostly at the crew member’s discretion.

“Where guidelines do exist, the emphasis tends to be on how not to communicate.”

In fact, there are some subjects pilots are not allowed to talk about at all.

“You’ll find stipulations against discussions of politics, religion and anything derogatory,” Smith continued.

“We’re also asked not to use potentially frightening language or alarming buzzwords.”

Source: Read Full Article