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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Pilot counts votes on flying home
A Boeing 757
The Boeing 757 is a common aircraft
A pilot asked nearly 300 British passengers to put their hands up if they wished to fly home after he had repaired the aircraft.

The tourists had waited for seven hours at Minorca in Spain while the pilot fixed a faulty warning light on the Boeing 757.

Thirteen refused to fly home on the MyTravel flight back to Leeds-Bradford airport on Friday, a MyTravel spokeswoman confirmed.

The light had indicated the plane was airborne when it was still on the ground.

After repairing it, the plane's captain stood on a chair in the terminal to explain the situation, the Times reports.

Families were apparently told they would have to make their own way home if they refused to fly.

He (the pilot) was confident that it was simply an indication error and, once he rectified that, he was happy to take passengers home
MyTravel spokeswoman
Johnathon McMillan, 36, told the paper his wife Fiona, 34, and six-year-old son, Ross, started crying when a passenger said he feared the plane could crash.

Mr McMillan said he paid £350 for his family to fly home with another airline the next day.

He told the Times: "I've never had to make a decision like that in my life before.

"If the truth be known, we thought it was a decision between life and death.

"The prospect of being in a plane which doesn't know whether it's in the air or on the ground is terrifying."

'Normal procedure'

A MyTravel spokeswoman confirmed 13 out of nearly 300 passengers refused to board the plane, which she admitted was "understandable".

"We had a problem with an indicator in the flight deck which meant a light was on when it should not have been on, she said.

"It is normal procedure for the pilot to be involved in correcting a fault, along with engineers.

"The pilot would never be allowed to fly an aircraft with a technical fault of any nature that would cause a potential danger.

"In this case, he was confident that it was simply an indication error and, once he rectified that, he was happy to take passengers home."

The aircraft landed safely at Leeds-Bradford shortly after 0200 BST on Saturday.

You sent us your comments on this story

I was once on a place waiting to take off from Schiphol, Amsterdam to London Heathrow. The pilot asked the cabin crew to arm the doors, and cross check them. An alarm started to go off from one of the back doors. A few minutes passed with the cabin crew rushing up and down the aisle when eventually the captain stepped out of the cockpit weilding what we later found out to be an ice pick. After hearing the door open, a few loud hammering sounds and then the door closing again, the captain returned to the cockpit and kindly told us that there was nothing to worry about. The door had somehow got stuck on something when it was being closed, meaning it wasn't closing properly, hence the alarm. However, he'd fixed it by hitting it with his ice pick. I spent the whole of the flight worrying that the door would burst open at any given moment and we'd all be sucked out into oblivion. Needless to say, we took off and landed safely in London 50 minutes later. It also goes to prove that often the best solution to sorting the odd mechanical problem is to simply hit it as hard as you can!
Graham Harrison, England

Wow! What comments! These guys (pilots and crew) are skilled beyond our imagination - but as far as Joe Public is concerned we should be thinking of them as nothing more than bus drivers. From a very UK parochial point of view, tot up how many folk have sadly died in bus crashes in Europe in the last 10 years, and relate that to European airplane disasters in the same timespan. Media and the understandably human lack of desire to fling oneself's into the air for several hours feeds our fear.
Martin Ross, UK

Pilots are trained in basic maintenance so that they can do turnarounds without the need for specialist ground staff
Dave, UK
This fault actually sounds like a fault with the Weight on Ground, or Weight on Wheels switch/indicator. This has a potential issue that the pilot may be able to retract the undercarriage with the plane on the ground. Fixing it would have involved something like fitting a new bulb or switch and would be a pretty trivial operation - easily tested by the fact the light comes back on when you start up. Once you have fixed it, your worst case situation would be that the switch might not turn off, in which case you wouldn't be able to retract undercarriage, would have to go around and land again. All in all, not that serious. Pilots are trained in basic maintenance so that they can do turnarounds without the need for specialist ground staff at every airport (not every small provincial airfield has support staff trained on every aircraft type). The only mistake the pilot made was he shouldn't have said that people were welcome to get off, because that unnecessarily raised fears.
Dave, UK

I would ask if the pilot was certified by Boeing to repair a 757. If answer was no then I would like to hear from any qualified person there might be at the airport in question. I presume such people exist at airports.
Jim, UK

Hey, the pilot and the Engineers spent seven hours fixing a faulty indicator light. What would've been bad is if they just tapped it once or twice, shrugged their shoulders and carried on! The public always cry out for more information, but when they get it there are a sensationalist few who, unfortunately, have no idea what it means and panic.
Mike, Belgium

I'd be up there with the pilot. If he's flying it, he's going to feel as safe as anybody. If he gives it to the co-pilot I'll walk!!
Jeff Standen, UK

Passengers were put in a situation where they had to decide on safety issue rather than the person paid to do so
Stevie Anderson, Scotland
The pilot and the airline are being paid to ensure the passenger's safety. Having a vote on whether to fly or not has an implication that the pilot is not wholly confident, or else why do it at all. It's not about information sharing as far as I'm concerned this situation is ludicrous because passengers were put in a situation where they had to decide on safety issue rather than the person paid to do so.
Stevie Anderson, Scotland

On my last flight back to Washington we were informed by the pilot that our 747 was leaking fuel!!! This was immediately after boarding. The pilot assured us that it was safe, though it would have been nice to have been given the option to take another flight...I totally agree with the action taken by the pilot.
Thomas, USA

I was waiting to take off from Amsterdam to San Francisco when the pilot 'pulled over' and announced there was an engine problem. Sitting in my starboard window seat overlooking the front of the wing, I didn't find myself at all disconcerted as the Dutch engineers busied themselves with suspicious-looking equipment for 3 hours. I trusted the pilot not to take off without being sure of the plane's safety. On the way back, a missed approach and subsequent re-takeoff in a fog-ridden Schiphol confirmed that pilots would rather waste 2 hours in Düsseldorf than endanger the passengers with a potentially unsafe landing.
Tom Wickens, Luxembourg

How ridiculous, it just shows the extent to which people expect to be "nannied" these days. I would call it a storm in a teacup, but no doubt that would have prevented the plane from taking off too...
James, England

It sounds like this pilot tried to calm nerves following a significant delay
Richard, Canada
It is normal for pilots to assist in fixing minor technical problems, especially away from home base. A wealth of technical data is available on the plane, and engineers at the other end of a phone line can assist him in this task. He would have quite clear go/no go guidance to assist him in deciding if the plane is safe to fly. However, the level of detail given to passengers is always a no-win situation. Tell them nothing, and they may feel uncertain when it comes to boarding the aircraft with no reassurance. Tell them everything, and they will worry about things they had never previously considered. It sounds like this pilot tried to calm nerves following a significant delay (infers significant problem?) by describing how trivial the problem was, but with some passengers this genuine attempt to make people feel better backfired. You can't win.
Richard, Canada

I was on a American Airlines flight from Birmingham to Chicago a few years back when, half an hour or so into the flight, I was woken by the captain uttering those terrifying (to me in my half-awake state) words "ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem". It turns out that one of the navigation computers had failed, and even though we had two backups, the captain felt that he wasn't confident flying across the Atlantic with only two navigation computers. So, because we didn't have the facility to dump fuel, we circled Iceland for three hours (with full airbrakes the works) and then landed in Heathrow where a man with a spanner came along and replaced the computer within 10 minutes. We continued our flight to Chicago with no other interruptions. I had full confidence in the flight crew and their decisions. The only regret I had is that it was the longest Birmingham to London journey I have ever taken, and I felt very dizzy when we got there.
Richard B Parsons, UK

I am an avionics engineer and this sounds like it may have been a "weight-on micro switch" fault. An indication to the pilot that the weight of the aircraft is on the undercarriage. The Captain should probably have explained it in car terms. eg. "It is a bit like having your reversing lights on when you know you are in forward gear. It is just a stuck indicator. It doesn't mean we will go backwards." The average man on the street does not understand the full implications of technical faults in an aircraft and is justified in feeling unsure. However, he should also realise that the Captain of a passenger aircraft is not a "kick the tyres and light the fires" type and that he would never risk the lives of his passengers.
Steve Allen, UK

Here is a Captain who has gone out of his way to keep his passengers informed of what was obviously a trivial fault, rather than leave them in the dark in the terminal. He has even gone as far as reassuring them that he would not fly if he was unhappy with the aircraft. Well done the Captain and well done MyTravel for allowing HONESTY - better than hiding the facts, surely? He should be getting a thank you, not being made out to be a cowboy.
Malcolm Davids, UK

I was one of the passengers on this flight and have been amazed by the inaccuracy of the reporting on this event.
Nigel, England
I was one of the passengers on this flight (with my wife and 2 young children) and have been amazed by the inaccuracy of the reporting on this event. The vote was not to see if we should "risk it" but merely whether passengers wanted to go the lengths of boarding the plane again (3rd time ) to try and fly home. The only "risk" was that the plane would only be able to taxi to the end of the runway and because of the fault not start the initialisation sequence. We would then have had to go straight back to the terminal and wait at least another 4 hours for the engineers to be flown from the UK.

All the news I have read today is about a "patched" plane "personally repaired" by the pilot and then us voting whether we thought it was safe to fly, which is just not the case but obviously makes for a better headline. It is funny that the bit of oil on the pilots shirt has now become him being "caked" and "covered" in oil !
Nigel, England

Once, on an unnamed former soviet republic internal flight over the Caspian sea, I sat across the aisle from a man who complained about a draft coming from a window. The hostess came back with a rather large roll of gaffer tape and taped over the drafty window. It was, she reassured, either going to break and we would die or it wouldn't and we would live. Drinks were soon after served.

I would have flown, but this is simply a case of too much information. The pilot undermined the passengers faith in HIS confidence of the plane's airworthiness, and let's face it, doubt and nervousness spreads through a crowd. I expect that most of these passengers had a degree of anxiety, but A - it was too much hassle to pay and change flights B- people tend to go with the majority C - plane crashes happen to other people.
Gary Campbell, England

A failure of the indication can cause the aircraft to run off the end of the runway after landing
David J. Ruck, England
Depending on the aircraft model, the weight on wheels indication can have serious safety implications. It is often used by the avionics systems to prevent aerodynamic breaking devices or thrust reversers being deployed while in the air, which may cause a catastrophic loss of control. Conversely a failure of the indication can cause the aircraft to run off the end of the runway after landing, due to insufficient breaking force.

Whilst the aircraft can be safely flown with a minor fault under normal conditions, many accidents are caused by a combination of contributory factors. In an emergency salutation with the pilots under high stress, the lack of safety interlocks could result in the aircraft being put in to an uncontrollable state. So putting such matters to a vote by the passengers is highly inappropriate.
David J. Ruck, England

I've been in a similar situation during a flight from Bristol to Glasgow, the Aircon was apparently faulty, which mean engineers had to remove the engine cover to allow access to the Aircon and other parts of the engine. All this was done whilst we were sat on the plane waiting to leave. The flight left 30-40minutes later quite happily. At the end of the day, if they say its been fixed, its been fixed. Let's face it, with the complexity of an aircraft what's to stop something else going wrong in mid air? However, I don't share that view that if the crew are happy to fly then it is safe. Look at the Tenerife aircrash, still the biggest air disaster to date, caused by a pilot being in a rush to get home.
Mark, UK

I find it calming when the pilot communicates with his or her passengers, generally this is done by pointing out landmarks and sights below the aircraft, it makes me think the pilot is happy everything is ok with the aircraft. I think this sort of communication would do exactly the opposite to any nervous flyers such as myself. Only one thing would have got me on that plane - Several large and, at airport prices, very expensive gin and tonics
Wayne Johnson, England

Are airlines taking unnecessary risks to stay in business?
Steve, USA
My wife and I recently flew back from Atlanta to Gatwick with BA. Once we cleared the lengthy queue for take off were informed the right engine wouldn't start. After apparently fixing the problem we began to queue for take off again. Once again the right engine wouldn't start so we went back to the terminal. The passengers were never allowed off the plane. The captain then came back on and said we were ready to go. The automatic engine starter wasn't working and he was going to have to start it manually. He informed us it would only be a problem if the engine shut down in mid flight! I started getting nervous along with the rest of the plane. Things then got worse. The captain informed us we were now waiting to be refuelled as we used quite a bit, testing the engines. Fifteen minutes later, the captain came back on and said "we are going to take off without refuelling, it will not be a problem as we should have enough." I can only wonder if the option had been given, not to board the plane, how many people would have decided to catch a different flight? Are airlines taking unnecessary risks to stay in business?
Steve , USA

Companies just can't win - if they do give people information and choices they are accused of forcing people to make impossible decisions. If they don't, they are accused of hiding the facts, or treating people like children.
Greg Jackson, UK

It sounds to me like the Pilot was very unprofessional. Surely there should be procedures in place when things like this happen? Sometimes things are better left unsaid. Passengers were forced into a worried state because of the pilot's choice of words. Asking passengers to vote as to whether the plane was fit to fly was astounding. I am a person who is terrified of flying and I would have been panicking if I was in that situation. I would certainly have not been amused at the pilot's jovial attitude.
Joanne Bell, England

The passengers who flew home with other airlines were wasting their money
Helen Shepherd, UK
The pilot maybe didn't need to give the passengers as much information as he did, but this was no "life or death" situation. The passengers who flew home with other airlines were wasting their money. Besides, a plane is a plane is a plane, regardless of the livery on the outside. Who's to say the same problem wouldn't occur with another airline? The mechanics beneath the outer casing are exactly the same on all planes, only the paint is different with another airline.
Helen Shepherd, UK

I am an ex-stewardess who stopped flying for a living only 5 years ago. During my flying days many of the flights I worked on operated with technical faults which the passengers were unaware of. My feelings were if the flight crew were happy to fly the aircraft then it was safe to do so. After all they had families they wanted to get back to! So, yes I would have been happy to fly on that particular aircraft.
Jaq McDiarmid, Scotland

I can understand the passengers reaction but it could be seen as an over-reaction. On my honeymoon flight in 1992 from Heathrow to Singapore the pilot of the 747 explained the delay in taking off was due to faulty cockpit light that showed one of the doors as open when it was actually closed. The pilot went on to say that the 'warning' light will stay on but "he and the engineer knew it was a faulty wire and nothing to worry about". The pilot also said that "the engineer had signed a piece of paper to confirm this". When my wife of 3 days and I heard this we were obviously a bit wary of the way this seems to be a not-unusual occurrence. The flight itself (obviously) went well.
Mark, London, U K

People have no rational perspective on the relative risks of flying
Kieran, UK
People have no rational perspective on the relative risks of flying compared to say, driving a car or riding a bike. Much of this is, unfortunately, a result of media hype - of which this story is a good example. If the crew, who are aware of the real level of risk, were quite happy to fly the aircraft then anyone with more than two brain cells should have no hesitation in boarding. One can only speculate on the intellect of those who declined....
Kieran, UK

Both the Captain and the First Officer must be happy that the aircraft is "fit to fly", it is not the Captain's sole decision. Considering that both almost certainly have wife/girlfriends/kids/etc do you think that they would put themselves at risk - let alone anyone else?? Just about all instrumentation is duplicated on the First Officer's panel, both powered, and normally information-sourced from a different point. The idea of this being that if an instrument should fail in-flight there is a back-up there. Should the instrument fail on the ground the crew may elect not to take the aircraft home... but lets get real here. If there's any doubt as to an aircraft's serviceability the crew would be the first ones off to the nearest hotel until the problem is fixed!
Guy, W.Sussex, England

An aircraft is very complex and like any other mechanical device, it can develop faults. A plane that is more than a few weeks old is likely to have many minor faults which would have been correctly repaired and inspected. A fault on the "weight on wheels" system is by no means uncommon, it's often due to a faulty micro switch on one of the undercarriage legs, or possibly due to a faulty relay (less likely). I would have no problem flying on a correctly repaired aircraft.
Michael Cawood, Wales, UK

How many pilots does it take to change a lightbulb?
Julie, England
How many pilots does it take to change a lightbulb...? Thought I'd get that one in before anyone else did. No pilot is going to put the lives of his passengers and crew in danger so I would have had no problem in getting on that plane. He was a little naive though - many passengers are anxious about flying and will assume the worst. It reminds me of a flight I took about 13 years years ago. We couldn't land at Rome because of a thunderstorm over the airport and so we had to circle round until it cleared. It was only when the pilot added "don't worry, we have enough fuel" that people got nervous - that thought hadn't occurred to most until then.
Julie, England

I had a similar experience with BA flying back from Cairo last month. The pilot needed to land at Rome due to a problem with the cabin pressure, meaning we had to fly at 10,000 feet and consequently ran very low on fuel. After three hours on the runway with no air conditioning or refreshments, and with no-one being allowed off the plane, we were told that the although there was a fault, the absolute cause could not be detected so we would take-off for London again. As one who doesn't enjoy the whole flying experience much anyway, this was terrifying! I would have liked to have been given the option of getting off the plane there and then. When all this is going on, you can't help thinking about BA's financial situation right now, and their choice between saving money and the safety and comfort of their passengers.
April Faulkner, England

I'm not a nervous passenger but faced with this I would have been scared. An aircraft is either airworthy or it isn't. Giving this kind of decision to passengers only panics (many already nervous) passengers into thinking they are having to make a potentially life threatening decision. Mytravel should compensate all the passengers for the anguish caused.
Dave, England

It is unlikely that these worried passengers even understood the technical aspects of the fault
Mick Longmuir, Scotland
If passengers considered the vast number of failures that could conceivably happen during a flight to endanger life, they would never leave the safety of their homes, let alone fly. It is only through design and engineering skills that we fly safely. It is unlikely that these worried passengers even understood the technical aspects of the fault. I wonder how many of them carry out such stringent checks on the equipment they will quite happily use for DIY in the home! Get real
Mick Longmuir, Scotland

I would have boarded the plane, without a shadow of a doubt. The important word in the pilot's announcement was "repaired". In my opinion, it is much better that the pilot kept his passengers informed about the precise reason for the long delay rather than fobbing them off with a euphemism such as "a technical fault", "for security reasons" or whatever - to know the precise reason convinces that passenger that there was a genuine reason for the delay. I hope the passengers were *properly* compensated for every second of their seven-hour delay.
Martin, England

It's not fair to put passengers into a situation where they have to make a decision like this. It's OK as the plane landed safely, how different things would be if the plane had crashed. Every fault, however small, should be fixed so that there is no question over passenger safety, especially since we have the threat of terrorist action hanging over us since 9-11.
Lesley, England

The correct procedure is to announce a technical problem with the air conditioning
Michael, Spain
There is a standard procedure for dealing with technical problems on planes. I've flown about once a week for the last 6 years and met this procedure regularly. Whenever the delay cannot be blamed on Air Traffic Control, because the passengers can see people with spanners around the plane, the correct procedure is to announce a technical problem with the air conditioning. This apparently needs to be rectified before flight but fortunately "only affects your comfort and not your safety".
Michael, Spain

It's ridiculous that the pilot took it upon himself to 'fix' a fault. To then pass the responsibility - for any subsequent failure - to the passengers is a disgrace. It doesn't sound like it was a great weekend for MyTravel passengers flying into LBA. My 3.10am Saturday flight back from Ibiza, didn't get off the ground till 4.30pm Sunday... and the reason... a fault in the systems that told the pilot the plane was in the air, whilst it was still on the ground. Déja Vu?
Paul Littlewood, United Kingdom

One report on the story alleged that the light was fixed by the pilot accelerating down the runway, slamming on the brakes to redistribute the luggage and then rebooting the flight computer. I am afraid that if that's how it got fixed then I would not have got on that plane.
Danny, UK

It is better not to inform the public about such routine matters
Patrick Mcdonagh, UK
It just goes to show that when you try and explain something relatively simple to a large group of people, there are always going to be some, who just are not with the program. This is more proof that it is better not to inform the public about such routine matters. These idiots thought they were going to die because there was a fault with an indication light. Get real.
Patrick Mcdonagh, UK

While boarding a BA flight in Johannesburg two weeks ago, we were informed that a truck had crashed into one of the 747's engines. Our takeoff was delayed by three hours during which the engine was repaired to a good standard to allow BA to fly home. This did not constitute an emergency and not a single passenger thought they would get off and wait for another flight. Ultimately the pilot is in charge of the aircraft and if he feels the plane can fly, we have to defer to his years of experience.
Andrea Andrew, UK

Why does the pilot need a light to tell him whether the plane is on the ground or in the air? Isn't there some kind of manual check for this?
Nick, UK

Assuming the aircraft was repaired or otherwise assessed as safe according to proper procedures then there should be no problem with flying. I did once fly to Los Angeles on a Virgin A340 and woke up the next day to discover that the plane had returned to Heathrow and had to make an emergency landing on arrival due to undercarriage failure. It didn't stop me getting on the return flight when it was time to come home.
Dave, UK

There were certainly a few sighs of relief when the plane was able to stop safely on the tarmac at Gatwick
Richard Benjamin, UK
My pregnant wife, 2-year-old daughter and I were due to return from Madeira to Gatwick in April, when we were informed by the captain that a warning light indicated that the braking system on the aircraft was faulty. We were forced to remain in the aircraft for 4 hours before taking off from Funchal. The fact that a TAP (Portuguese National airline) aircraft technician attended on board and that the fault took so long to repair, were enough to convince us that the aircraft was safe to fly in. On that occasion, we were not given an option of returning on another flight, but there were certainly a few sighs of relief when the plane was able to stop safely on the tarmac at Gatwick.
Richard Benjamin, UK

I was on a plane last year which flew through a couple of large birds on take off. The plane had to land to check the engines weren't damaged. I'm glad these people weren't on my flight. If they get in a panic over a light bulb, I can't imagine what they would think with bird stuck in the engine.
Alastair, England

As an engineer (B.Sc.) and having worked with failsafe instrumentation several years (now student pilot) I know that 99% of the cases an alarm goes of it is the instrument it self and not the process monitored that is the problem. However; There can be only one person taking the decision whether to fly or not and that person is the captain alone. If he is not capable of taking that decision on his shoulders he should find another job! A simple "we can not fly due to technical problems" or "the problem has been fixed and we are now ready to fly" is all the information the passengers should have.
Peter Stidsen, Denmark

It makes a change that the passengers were told what was happening. I'm sure passengers would be happier knowing what was delaying their flight and that the crew ensure that the aircraft is safe for flight. Would you board a flight where the flight crew DIDN'T know what was happening?
Calum, UK

Why involve passengers in a technical problem and cause fear, when the pilot and technical ground staff were satisfied that the problem had been solved?
Trevor, England

Warning systems are more likely to malfunction than the system that is being protected
John Dowsett, England
Of course I would have been prepared to fly on that plane. It is well known in engineering circles that warning systems are more likely to malfunction than the system that is being protected. I am continually amazed by the timidity of the general public about their safety. I would have been completely reassured by the pilot who was himself happy to fly the plane. Everyone takes greater risks travelling by their car at home than you would take on flying. The world would be a very dull place if it were a completely risk free zone.
John Dowsett, England

What worries me is this sort of thing goes on all the time and passengers are routinely unaware of it. This story is exceptional because the captain told passengers there was a fault and he had corrected. Most other airliners routinely fly with minor technical problems. Personally I think it is best not to know.
Paul Skeldon, UK

I flew home with a flight company in May and we had to make an emergency stop during take off because there was a light flashing on the pilots panel. He just turned around and took off again - I didn't get the choice. I panicked like hell the whole way home. You have to trust the pilot.
James challis, Deal, Kent. England

Sounds like MyTravel don't have proper procedures in place to supply an aircraft technician
Ian Pratt, UK
As a pilot myself, the pilot is responsible for inspecting the aircraft, hence the walk around outside (kicking the tyre). However, he is not licensed to repair aircraft. This is the duty of trained and licensed aircraft technicians (not engineers - they are something different). In this case, the pilot did not act properly. He was probably trying to cover himself, but did not succeed in this and did it in a pretty dumb way striking fear amongst his passengers (is that a good pilot ?) Sounds like MyTravel don't have proper procedures in place to supply an aircraft technician in this case.
Ian Pratt, UK

I'd have flown. Passengers need to realise that minor faults like this occur on virtually every flight and tens of thousands of them have flown in similar circumstances and never know about it. This was clearly no aircraft-threatening incident and the pilot was entirely sensible in taking the course he did.
Ian Bishop, UK

I was on a plane that was grounded at JFK for 4 hours because one of the [three] failsafe backups for cabin pressurisation was faulty. We all had to go back to the terminal and wait whilst a man with a spanner tried to fix it. I was happy to get back on the same plane and continue my journey because the pilot was satisfied that the fault had been dealt with. That's all that matters surely? After all - the pilot is not going to put his/her life (not to mention the lives of the crew and passengers) on the line by flying a dangerous plane.
Debra, Hatfield, UK

For the pilot to allow the situation to get to that stage was unprofessional. To inform passengers that there was a minor technical fault would have been sufficient. If he had given technical information to non-technical people - then he deserved all he got. Minor technical problems occur every day on aircraft, ships, trains, buses and cars. Normally they are dealt with quickly and quietly by an engineer. A little information is dangerous!
Gordon Goldie, UK

Minor faults such as this are fairly common place
Rob Monfea, United Kingdom
I would definitely have boarded the aircraft. I have worked as an aircraft engineer for the last 17 years and certainly do not believe that this situation was 'a matter of life and death'. Minor faults such as this are fairly common place and are referred to as acceptable deferred defects. This means that the aircraft is still safe to fly back to base, where engineering staff have the appropriate tools and spare parts to rectify the problem.

The Captain in this case will have used his judgement based upon many years of experience to assure himself that flying with this problem would not endanger the aircraft. Furthermore, since they were aware of the problem, he and his crew would have monitored this fault throughout the flight and taken the appropriate action if the situation became more serious. I can understand some peoples trepidation, since flying is not a regular part of their daily routine, but I am still reminded of the statistic that more people are killed by Donkeys each year, than die in aircraft accidents.
Rob Monfea, United Kingdom

It is extremely unfair to put passengers in a position where they feel that they are having to make a "life or death" decision - no wonder some people decided not to "risk it". I am sure, though, that the captain would not have made the decision to fly if he thought his own life or the lives of the passengers and other crew might be in any danger at all, but giving the information to passengers about the repair job he had done and then seeking their votes is not the way to instil confidence and calm.
C. Sadler, England

I think the passengers were being ridiculous. The pilot and engineers were more than qualified to deal with one LED. I'm sure many more major repairs occur in the hangar, and as unethical as it sounds, it may be a better policy to vet which information gets passed from the crew to the passengers.
Jim McCafferty, England

The Pilot is also on the plane and he will not put himself at risk. Also the instruments are to assist and a plane can be flown 'by the seat of your pants!' It would be perfectly safe and I would have no hesitation
Gudmund Jorgensen, Scotland

I do not think the pilot should have asked the passengers to make this decision
Martin Clark, England
I do not think the pilot should have asked the passengers to make this decision. The responsibility of ensuring air-worthiness must surely lie with the airline and it's staff, including the captain. There must be many occasions where small faults are fixed between flights, and it is quite proper for the airline engineers to decide whether the plane should fly or not. The passengers cannot possibly make a rational decision because they are emotionally involved with the thought of the plane crashing Although the captain may have had good intentions when he involved the passengers, he was effectively trying to 'share the responsibility' if things did go wrong during the flight.
Martin Clark, England

I am a strong believer that when your time is up, it is up. So in this case I would have returned as i was due to, and not changed flights, as you never know. In this case the flight returned safely, but who is to say the next flight would have returned safely, that is what we call fate, something we have no control over.
Peter Howe, Spain

I would not board a plane that had not been fully inspected and checked by a qualified Engineer. It's like a car dashboard indicating that the brakes aren't working properly and the driver removing the bulb that's flashing, then telling his passengers that the brakes are fixed.
Peter, England

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Today, it was business as usual for MyTravel"


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