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Fear of Flying Phobia - Part 1

Flying Phobia - Part 2

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Fear of Flying


As the descent towards your destination is started the engine power is reduced and on some aircraft types the contrast between the cruise and the descent engine noise can be quite pronounced. At this time you will most likely start to feel the increase in cabin air pressure as your ears ‘pop' At some stage in the descent you may see the spoilers deploy from the top surface of the wings. These ‘spoil' some of the lift produced by the wings and create drag so that the aeroplane can decelerate and descend quicker. Because of this drag there is usually an increase in wind noise at this time.

At lower altitudes, as the speed decreases, the general wind noise will lower and you will again notice the flaps as they are extended from the wings and the clunks and wind noise from the lowering landing gear. The gear may make a louder clunk this time as the undercarriage is locked into position.

Because of the lower air noise you may hear the engines as their speed is changed. In contrast to the take off where we use a constant engine power, for landing we need to keep a constant airspeed. Fine –tuning of the engine power can be needed to account for the different wind speeds at various altitudes and the drag caused by different flap positions.

How the landing feels can vary and depends on many factors. A reasonably firm landing is, believe it or not, the ‘correct' technique for a large aeroplane and really is required if the runway is short or wet. In these conditions we need to be on the ground as soon as possible for maximum braking effectiveness. To help the brakes the spoilers will again deploy from the top of the wings. The engine sound will initially decrease to idle speed, but then increase as reverse thrust is applied. You may see the thrust reversers move into position at the rear of the engine and this can be accompanied by higher noise and some rattling of the overhead bins.

Different models of aircraft will obviously have slightly different sounds, maybe in a slightly different order but this is generally how it happens on any aeroplane that you’re likely to fly on these days. The main thing is to relax and enjoy the flight - you can always ask the cabin crew ‘what’s that noise?' but they’re so used to it, they’ll probably say ‘what noise?'.

Andrew Clarke is a Captain with a major British airline and has over 7000 hours flying experience on many different commercial airliners in Europe and beyond.

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