Hi everyone,


Captain keith, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about backup plans.  One of the thing that bothers me about flying is that there are so many details involved, and that there's so many things that could go wrong.  And it's very difficult in any situation, airspace bound or not, where things are 100%. 

For example, for me, the reason that a car is less scary is that despite there being many more accidents, many car accidents don't cause death - or there are things to make it less deadly.  With airplanes, it feels a bit like if things aren't 100% then you're screwed, and if you're in a crash you surely die,  whereas in a car, you could have many things wrong with the car and still drive it. You could be in crash and walk away.  I don't know if that makes sense. 

I think it would help if you could let us know what the backup plans are - and if you could still make it safely when things do go wrong.   Sometimes I get the feeling that airplanes have to be 100% tip top shape - and that causes fear, because despite all the double checking, things in life rarely work at a 100% level.  It seems kind of..impossible, I guess.


Anyway, any insights would be appreciated.  Thanks so much,


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Hi Annie


Like I said elsewhere I've a busy week end but will answer you when I have time. Meanwhile ...I'm sure you'll know what I'm going to say  but try to work out for yourself what my answers might be ...post them here then I'll post mine....let's see how similar they are ...and they will be .



Hi Keith.


That's okay, whenever you've got some time.


I don't know about backup plan ideas...but I guess extra engines? There are four, correct? So if one of them fails there are three more? 



I'll be with you soon...



I can give you some examples of backup plans...

1. There are TWO pilots :-)

2. The pilots must eat different food from each other.

3. Besides the human pilots there are autopilots, which can fly the plane VERY VERY accurately.

4. Each fuel tank has at least 2 fuel pumps, and engines can be supplied with fuel from different tanks, so if there is a malfuntion with one tank or pump, there are multiple alternative sources.

5. There is enough extra fuel on board to get to the destination airport, circle (hold) for quite a while, divert to another airport, and still fly further than that. That's without even considering that most routes have airports along the way that you could land at if required.

6. All the computer systems on the aircraft are duplicated or triplicated so if one malfunctions another takes over.

7.Each plane has a navigation system (I forget the name of it) which communicates with other aircraft and makes sure planes don't get too close to each other. So, IF a flight plan wasn't correctly followed, and IF air traffic control didn't keep the planes far enough apart, and IF the pilot didn't notice they were approaching another plane, and IF the co-pilot didn't notice either (lots of IFs there, so very unlikely) the plane's system would tell the pilots PRECISELY what to do. So if it instructed them to go UP, at the same time the system on the OTHER plane will be telling its pilots to go DOWN, hence ensuring the planes easily move away from each other.

8. If radio contact between air traffic control and the airplane is lost, there is a Flight Plan in place, and the pilots will simply follow this plan - they will navigate, cruise, descend, approach and land according to the Flight Plan, and air traffic control will keep all other aircraft clear to allow them to do this without needing any instructions from anyone else.

9. Each pilot has a navigation system which gets its information from different sensors on the airplane, so if one sensor malfunctions there'll be others sending the correct information to the pilots.

10. If YOU can think of a problem, it's already been thought of. And dealt with.


Hope this helps - by the way everything I've just written I learned from Keith's CD set.



Great news...you listened well.

You'll now see this information on lots of other fear of flying sites because they spy on this forum and reproduce what we say....however...you heard it here first! Well done 


Captain Keith.

all content copyright fwf.com

Oops.. is that a problem? Anyway... I'm glad I gave your CDs a plug then! I think I'm onto about my fourth time listening to them, so I can hear Jasper's voice in my head when I'm typing that stuff. If I'm not supposed to regurgitate information quite so verbatim, please let me know...!


No No  don't worry I'm pleased you mentioned what you'd learned..it's just that so often on the net and sometimes in the newspapers a well known brand gets mentioned and I know that much of what is said by them is phrased in ways that have come from me. Trouble is they have a big legal department that has already jumped on me! Really quite unfair but what's new?


Thanks so much, Narelle! Will try to keep these things in mind.


 I agree with your 100%. That is also my fear. If this or that goes wrong will something else pop out in its place. Something like that.

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