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Emergency communication between cabin crew and flight crew

There are different vague emergency communications between the cabin crew and flight crew. Cases of evacuation and rapid deplaning in commercial air transport operations, some of misuse of terminologies from the side of crew members, cabin crew members and passengers’ poor understanding of the pilots commands causes difficult situations. In January 2021, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) describes the situation as follows: “Communication, as well as transferring information, enhances situational awareness, allows problem solution to be shared between crew members by enabling individual crew members to contribute appropriately and effectively to the decision-making process. Poor communications between crew members and other parties such as ground personnel, may lead to a loss of situational awareness, a split in teamwork and ultimately to a bad decision or series of decisions which results in incident or even a fatal accident.”

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Basic definitions

Rapid disembarkation

This means the exiting from the entrances and the associated airport infrastructure (air bridge, jet way or boarding stairs) or the aircraft air stairs.

Ineffective emergency communication

This may happen due to poor sharing of essential information between the flight attendants and the pilot, late information about an imminent threat of safety. The misjudge on someone’s observations, and some mistakes in sharing critical information between the flight crew members could be reasons too.


Emergency evacuation

It procedures more expeditious command compared with rapid deplaning. This procedure requires the use of all available exits to empty the plane as quick as possible.

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Some cases reveal issues

  • Flight attendants may make an evacuation without direct order or coordination with the flight crew.
  • The insufficient training in preparing the flight attendants to use the interphone to keep in touch with the flight crew about serious and important information.
  • Flight attendants’ confusion between pilot’s command of rapid deplaning and evacuation
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Main points for optimal emergency communication

  • Cooperation and following rules: high mutual assistance, low discord, and on-time communication and feedback, reduce the likelihood of unmitigated safety threats (primarily human errors) that can kill or seriously injure people aboard or near an aero plane.
  • Cabin crew must get trained about when to start an emergency evacuation without waiting commands, and to take this step when the plane‘s engines power down. In case the evacuation is required, cabin crew must contact with the flight crew to inform them about the situation and await instructions, in case contacting isn’t available cabin crew must initiate evacuation.
  • It is essential to keep the flight deck door closed to stop the spread of smoke. The actions taken by the flight crew will depend strongly on the information provided by the cabin crew via the interphone.
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Critical points in emergency handling

  • While exiting members off the aircraft, they should be informed about roles and emergency communications they may face in their work, and what to do and when.
  • Air operations should include essential roles and authorities and this during both normal operations and emergency ones. Also the flight crew members’ and cabin crew members’ responsibilities should be cleared obviously.
  • Cabin crew should be focused on the use of the interphone and the procedures used for calling the flight deck, receiving calls, and handling calls between members of the cabin crew under normal and emergency situations. When emergency contact is required from the cabin to the flight deck, the appropriate emergency call button/code should be used on the interphone handset.
  • Levels of efficiency established by the airline should ease consistently safe closure, arming, disarming, and opening of doors, jump seat occupancy and restraint, and communication via designated verbal methods as interphone, non-verbal audible cues. visual cues, cabin crew call systems.



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