During in-flight emergencies, what is your greatest concern as a pilot? What personal steps do you take to keep your mind and emotions in check?

– SJW, Portland, Oregon

When a serious emergency like the United Airlines engine failure occurs, there is often a startle factor. Once that has passed, pilots rely on their training to work through the issues at hand. 

While training, pilots experience high-stress situations and are expected to follow procedures resulting in a safe landing. 

My experience is that the emotions occur after the airplane is on ground. During the actual emergency, you are focused on flying the airplane, ensuring the flight path remains safe, following the checklists, reprogramming the Flight Management Computer, advising air traffic controllers, advising the passengers of the revised flight plan, advising the company of the return, briefing the approach procedure – and finally, executing the approach to a safe landing. 

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