Why do window blinds have to be up on aeroplane takeoff and landing?

Most of us have taken a plane trip at some time or another. When doing so, you may not be aware that it’s mandatory to have the window blinds up when the plane takes off or lands, but why is this?

Each time you hop on a plane to whisk you off to sunnier climes there are ritualistic safety protocols that must be carried out. We’re all familiar with the air stewards standing in front of us pointing at doors and crossing their arms as they guide us through the scary prospect of what we must do in the case of an emergency.

Aside from learning how to position ourselves in the event of a dangerous landing, we should also make sure that the window blinds are up when the aeroplane is either taking off or landing.

Why the ‘blinds up’ rule exists

There are in fact, several common sense reasons for this. Firstly, there is only a handful of staff but there are usually hundreds of passengers – That’s a lot of eyes! So it’s really a case of the more eyes the better. If you’ve got a seat next to a window, the chances are you’ll probably be looking out through it when landing and taking off.

If something is amiss such as a smokey engine or a piece of the aircraft becomes detached, the first thing you’ll probably do straight away is to notify one of the cabin crew. So, the passengers can play a vital role in taking swift action in the event of an emergency by notifying staff that something isn’t quite right.

The 90-second rule

According to stackexchange.com user Nean Der Thal, whose day-to-day job is aviation safety, regulations state that in the event of an emergency, the cabin crew has a mere 90 seconds to evacuate all the passengers, regardless of the size of the plane or the number of passengers. The user states that in the case of an emergency, every second counts and with only 90 seconds to evacuate, you can see their point.

The vast majority of aircraft emergency situations occur either during takeoff or landing – In other words, it’s statistically the most dangerous part of the flight. If the window blinds are open, the cabin crew are able to instantly see outside, thus allowing them to evaluate the safest doors to open first when planning an aircraft evacuation. Let’s face it, no one wants to find themselves jumping out into an alligator-infested swamp when there’s dry land at the other end of the plane!

Nean goes on to say that passengers must be as efficiently prepared as they can be. This includes making sure that their eyes are as well adjusted to the conditions outside as possible. During daytime conditions, if the blinds are open and the internal cabin lights are on, passengers’ eyes are well-adjusted to what’s going on outside.

Conversely, during night-time conditions, the interior lights are dimmed so that the pupils in the eye can be as dilated as possible and ready to adapt to external light levels.

Looking out and looking in

Another obvious reason for keeping the blinds open in the event of an emergency is to ensure that any rescue crews that are outside the aeroplane can see inside. Quite simply, with the window blinds shut, they can’t evaluate the number of passengers or their location inside the plane.

You may not realise it, but passengers play a vital role in their own safety and the safety of their peers so make sure you keep those window blinds open the next time you fly!

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