Aerophobia or aviophobia is the fear of flying in airplanes or helicopters which typically results in physical and psychological manifestations, such as sweating, trembling, increased heart rate, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, irritation, anxiety, disorientation and the inability to think clearly. It is reported that nearly 25 percent of air travelers have this phobia.
However, airplanes are reportedly safer than traveling in cars or other roadway vehicles, with 2017 being the safest year on record for commercial air travel. In fact, over the past twenty years, aviation fatalities have steadily declined.
While most flights are uneventful, getting on a plane can be nerve-wracking; but pilots are exhaustingly trained on what to do in case of an emergency. Here are four buttons your pilot only presses in the event of a real emergency.
7500, 7600, 7700
Distress codes are extensively taught and practiced before pilots can descend into the sky. These four-digit codes are used to keep in touch with air traffic control through a transponder. While there are codes used for mundane reasons, such as identifying the plane, special codes have been established to use strictly during emergencies. 7700 indicates a general, non-dangerous distress signal, such as when pilots are dealing with abnormal circumstances; whereas, the 7600 code lets air traffic control know the plane has lost radio communication. 7500, a more serious code, means the plane is being hijacked. If this code is ever entered, the plane must land for inspection, even if it was accidentally entered.
Emergency Gear Extension
If the planes central power system isn’t working, the wheels needed for landing won’t release. That is where the emergency gear extension comes in. This backup plan works by eliminating the pressure on the cemented gears. If all else fails, the emergency gear extension allows the pilot to crank the gear into the right position for landing.
Engine Fire Handle
This button is only pulled in the event of an engine fire. This switch stops the flow of fuel to the engines. If the fire started in the cargo area, the pilot might also activate the cargo compartment fire extinguishing switch which uses a chemical to stifle the fire.
Passenger Oxygen Switch
Before taking off and landing, airplanes depressurize. If this happens during the flight, there will be an automatic release of the oxygen masks. At 22,000 feet up, it would take between five to ten minutes before passengers begin losing consciousness; whereas at 40,000 feet, it could be as little as 18 to 30 seconds.