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Direct view for cabin crew members. Lauren Thomas, Rebecca Wilson, Ita Kelleher Human Factors Group School of Engineering Cranfield University. Regulatory requirements.

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direct view for cabin crew members
Direct view for cabin crew members

Lauren Thomas, Rebecca Wilson, Ita Kelleher

Human Factors Group

School of Engineering

Cranfield University

regulatory requirements
Regulatory requirements
  • The regulatory authorities require that each seat located in the passenger compartment designated for use by cabin crew members provides an unobstructed view of the cabin area for which that crew member is responsible.
  • Direct view means “visual contact with the cabin main area/aisles which enables the flight attendant to be made aware of passenger needs relative to safety when the flight attendant is seated” (FAA, 1994).
advisory material
Advisory material
  • Guidance material provided by the FAA indicates that although the primary requirement is to ensure that the crew are in close proximity to an exit “every practical effort should be made to eliminate obstructions to direct view”.
  • Mirrors and other such devices are only acceptable where proximity to an exit takes precedence over direct view. Video systems are only acceptable where the level of conspicuity provided is equivalent to that which would be obtained with a direct line of sight.
security emergency considerations
Security & emergency considerations
  • Clearly, proximity to an exit is a requirement for cabin crew, who need to be at their stations in the event of an emergency. However, the crew also need to be able to supervise passenger preparation for an evacuation.
  • At Manchester in 1985, “the inability of the forward crew members to monitor conditions in the cabin from their takeoff and landing positions was unsatisfactory” (King, 1989). The view into the cabin was restricted by the galley bulkhead.
  • Richard Reid (the “shoe-bomber”) was only thwarted in his effort to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes when a cabin crew member saw him trying to light the explosives.
operational definition
Operational definition
  • In practice, direct view requirements are assessed by a paper and pencil exercise in which lines of sight are plotted on the proposed cabin configuration.
  • Using this method, the cabin crew member’s height is assumed to be between 5’2” and 6’3”, and the measurement is taken from 4.7” forward of the crew seat. Head movement is assumed to be 8.5” either side, and the line of sight is assumed to be limited 160 feet.
  • Using these guidelines, 80% of passenger seats must be visible in part, including 50% within each zone or cabin area.
enhancing direct view
Enhancing direct view
  • Additional means may be utilised to enhance direct view:-
  • Design change: including change of design or function of bulkheads or partitions, including use of transparent panels, shutters, curtains or flaps.
  • Provision of an additional crew member seat: not always viable if this is done purely to enhance direct view.
  • Use of mirrors and similar devices: only permitted where one of the above two options is not feasible.
aim of study
Aim of study
  • The aim of the study was to investigate situations in which crew members had benefited from direct view, situations in which direct view was less than optimal, and to consider cabin crew suggestions for improving their monitoring of passengers.
  • A structured checklist of topics was used so that researchers could ensure that all areas of interest were covered. This included: take-off and landing (what crew are looking/listening for), problems with direct view, proposed solutions and innovations, and implications for future aircraft types.
  • The method involved qualitative focus groups and interviews with cabin crew from a number of UK airlines. All interviews were recorded in confidence, and later transcribed and content analysed to identify main themes and concerns.
  • Cabin crew included in the study covered Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 767, Airbus 319, Airbus 320, and Airbus 340.
  • In total, 37 crew contributed, with experience ranging from between 2 and 29 years.
  • Seven focus groups of between 2 and 8 crew members, with one crew member contributing by letter.
  • Most crew said initially that they did not have a problem with direct view: and then went to catalogue situations when it had been an issue.
  • In total, seven themes were evident within the data:
    • Monitoring the aircraft
    • Monitoring the passengers
    • Security
    • Incidents and accidents
    • Direct view obstructions
    • Mirrors, transparent bulkheads, and video cameras
    • Future innovations.
monitoring the aircraft
Monitoring the aircraft
  • “I’m looking for… listening to unusual noises… unusual smells. Maybe the irregularity of the speed… you look for that… everything is secure in the cabin… things like that are very important at this stage… You get to recognise noises, it comes with time… anything you don’t recognise, you report it straight away…”
  • Some cabin crew reported engaging in a “thirty-second review”, where crew are mentally rehearsing the actions they would take and the commands they would use in the event that something untoward should occur.
monitoring the passengers
Monitoring the passengers
  • The [senior crew member] makes a PA to say ‘cabin crewmembers take your seats for takeoff or landing’. They will then phone the flight deck and say ‘cabin ready’, and then, depending on what aircraft, press a ‘cabin ready’ button, so all crewmembers should be seated at that time. Then, when takeoff is imminent, the captain will flash the… no smoking signs twice”
  • It appears that passengers do not always appreciate the meaning of such announcements and communications. The only time that crew members are permitted to leave their seats during the critical phases of flight is to carry out safety related duties.
infrequent fliers
Infrequent fliers
  • One crew member reported a situation where the a/c was on final approach in Orlando… the captain announced that Disneyland was visible through windows on the left hand side… and half of the passengers on the right hand side moved from their seats to go and look.
  • It appears that novice passengers in particular do not know that crew can only leave their seats to undertake safety related duties.
  • Novice flyers have been reported ringing call bells for sweets, to ask to use the toilets, or to ask crew to reach something from the overhead lockers.
frequent fliers
Frequent fliers
  • “Businessmen are the worst, they are the worst. Because they know it all…. They don’t know that aircraft change all the time. They get quite complacent with it and think they know it all”.
  • Businessmen were also reported as being the worst offenders in using mobile phones… crew reported trying to embarrass such passengers with a PA announcement if they heard the mobile phone being used.
  • Passengers were more likely to be seen if they stood up… if people were using mobile phones they were more likely to be heard than seen.
nervous passengers
Nervous passengers
  • As with infrequent fliers, nervous passengers were also reported as behaving in a sometimes inappropriate manner… although the crew tended to have more sympathy with such passengers.
  • Nervous passengers seemed to only want reassurance and guidance from the crew, perhaps with regards to how normal the noises are.
  • However, the crew are sometimes conscious that the bulkheads may muffle their commands, and that without eye contact, communication can be reduced.
  • Post 9/11, cabin crew felt that passengers could be a powerful ally in the event of a threat to security.
  • Many crew thought this was just as well, since they would have a limited view of what was happening in the cabin during takeoff and landing.
  • This was reported as the one and only situation where crew would leave their seats at a critical phase of flight:
  • “If they’re getting up and running, if you can’t see, if you can’t see until they get past the galley… that’s when you get off your seat”
incidents and accidents
Incidents and accidents
  • None of the cabin crew interviewed for this study said that they had experienced serious incidents or accidents.
  • However, there were medical incidents and emergencies that crew spoke about.
  • In one situation, a call bell was rung and the crew member could just make out someone slumped in a seat… the passenger had had a heart attack, but the crew members could not assist until the a/c had landed.
direct view obstructions
Direct view obstructions
  • There appeared to be a number of obstructions to direct view, including fittings and fixtures such as wardrobes, galleys and bulkheads, and toilets.
  • Crew were conscious that little could be done about some of these obstructions, since they were fixed, or were used to store emergency & medical equipment in standardised locations. They reported hoping that other crewmembers would be able to supervise passengers beyond such obstructions.
  • In flight, divisions between classes did not create such a problem, as more crew were available in these cabins to provide a higher level of service.
  • Mirrors were reported as being widely fitted, to allow cabin crew to see and supervise passengers behind them.
  • There were mixed reactions to using these, because some crew thought that they were fitted in the wrong places, were too small, not angled correctly, or not clean. In some cases, so little detail was visible that the mirrors were almost useless.
  • It was reported that no pre-flight checks are required to ensure that the crew can use the mirrors that are fitted. It would appear that some of these issues could be rectified by surveying the fleet for such problems, and requiring a pre-flight check.
transparent bulkheads
Transparent bulkheads
  • Transparent bulkheads were reported on only one a/c type within this study. However, transparent bulkheads were thought to be a good solution to split classes and cabin areas/zones.
  • Cabin crew generally thought that transparent bulkheads were, in theory, a good idea to enhance direct view, although some of the practical issues involved would make this difficult to implement: toilets, emergency equipment etc.
  • One crew member suggested that such fixtures and fittings could be “lifted” into the cabin from below once takeoff had been completed!
video cameras
Video cameras
  • None of the cabin crew had any experience of using video cameras to enhance direct view.
  • Some of the crew suggested that video cameras and CCTV could be useful for situations such as terrorism and disruptive passengers, but felt that it was a significant investment when the technology might be used only rarely.
  • In addition, there was the issue of reliability: “I think you’re better off with mirrors to be honest, because equipment goes down, it goes wrong”
future innovations
Future innovations
  • Some suggestions were given in jest, and some in earnest:
  • “No passengers”
  • “The more help you have, the more hands, the easier it is”.
  • Sideward facing crew seats were suggested as a future possibility, since they would allow supervision of passengers and proximity to the door.
  • However, they would need to be crashworthy, since active & assertive crew are vital in evacuation situations, and they would also need to retract to avoid obstructing assist/escape space.
  • The primary preference for maintaining and enhancing direct view is design change, followed by additional crew seats, and then finally the use of mirrors.
  • In practice, the use of mirrors appears to be widespread, although guidance material suggests that they should be used as a last resort.
  • Mirrors were often reported as being dirty, not angled correctly, in the wrong places, or too small to provide sufficient detail. However, because this work was qualitative, there is no indication of how widespread these problems are.
conclusions 2
Conclusions (2)
  • Airlines could conduct survey research to establish the extent of the problem, either sending out cabin crew questionnaires or conducting a review of a/c types within the fleet, supported by cabin crew.
  • A simple solution would be to review the mirrors currently fitted, and assess whether they are correctly angled, regularly cleaned, and large enough to provide visual detail.
  • In addition, a “mirror check” could be included in the pre-flight requirements, so that cabin crew are required to check before takeoff. This is a requirement when you get into a car – so why not check visibility when your crew board an a/c?