I ask to seek kindly advice and recommendations on improvement.

These 2 open questions Pilot passed out in a small GA plane. What can a passenger do? and Can a passenger realistically replace suddenly incapacitated pilots? have received many upvotes and views, but my original was closed and criticised. What might I have neglected?


3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: this is my opinion as a user of this site, not as a moderator. I did vote to close yours as opinion based for a few of the reasons mentioned below.

There are a few things I can spot right away:

  1. The GA question is specific. It's a particular situation with only a few answers. It also has examples of actual saves by passengers, so answers involve little opinion.
  2. The incapacitation question is again, pretty specific. Pilots can't fly; what can passengers do. The obvious answer here is 'they can try to fly the plane', with variations on what else is an option.
  3. Your question is pretty vague. "Suppose that an aircraft is in an exigency or emergency solely related to aviation." That's a huge, wide-open question.
  4. Your writing style, and I mean no offense, is pretty hard to read. You use large words when small would do, some of them uncommon (exigency, affrighting). In several places you provide synonyms that don't clarify. This doesn't help - it makes it hard to follow and hard (not impossible) to grasp your intent.
  5. Your question contained many, many sub-questions that could on their own have been answered.
  6. Your real-world example is an assumption that a non-pilot might have saved AF447. In reality it seems like a situation in which a passenger's help would be least welcome. Imagine you're fighting a shark for your life: someone says, "hey, did you try punching it in the nose?"

I think it boils down to: your question was more complicated to read. Many vague questions make for an opinion based response, which is probably why five users voted to close.

Sidebar on readability:

I dumped your question into the excellent Hemingway readability app and it highlighted 8 of 10 sentences as "hard to read" or "very hard to read": enter image description here

The GA question, on the other hand, was pretty straightforward: enter image description here

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ +1. Thank you, especially for introducing me to the Hemingway app. I'll try to ameliorate my writing. $\endgroup$
    – user128
    Sep 4, 2015 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ I tested Art 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution in the Hemingway app. Everything is red, and the section is rated Post-Collegiate, Poor :-) Ah, ah ;-) thank you nontheless, interesting. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 16, 2015 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ @mins: Not sure what else you'd expect from a piece of formal legal writing more than two centuries old…. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2015 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ @NathanTuggy: To tell the truth, I had more luck with Philip Roth who was OK, but not with his critics. The sentence length seems to be a factor. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 17, 2015 at 17:07

In addition to writing style and the question being very broad, I think a lot of the negative reception also had to do with the assumption that a passenger with no actual flight training would be useful to the flight crew of an airliner. It's roughly comparable to asking "When a patient starts having complications during spinal surgery, how can a hospital visitor who has surgery experience from playing Operation enter the operating room to help the neurosurgeons?" The answer, of course, being that they can't because they'd have no idea what's going on and they'd be a distraction to the highly-trained people who are trying to figure out what's going on and fix it.

In the case of AF447, it's unlikely that the passengers even had much idea that something was wrong prior to impacting the water. Even a trained pilot probably wouldn't have known that anything serious was going on unless they happened to be monitoring a GPS unit at the time.

Asking if a passenger could be useful to the flight crew in a specific type of emergency probably would have been better received, since it's specific and doesn't start with the assumption that the passenger actually would be useful. Making the assumption that someone with no training would be able to fix a problem that people with several years of training couldn't comes across as arrogant, though.

By the way, I hope this answer does not come across as being offensive. No offense is intended. I'm just trying to give an honest assessment of why I think that question was not received well.

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    $\begingroup$ Worry not; I'm not offended at all. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – user128
    Sep 4, 2015 at 17:33

You are comparing two different situations:

  • The other questions are about replacing a pilot, implying there is no other possibility to land than someone taking control. At least you do the most urgent, contact ATC, engage autopilot, etc. Having a simulator experience is obviously significant. You don't have to discuss a plan with an existing crew, you are alone, in charge. The discussion is about the actual outcome of such experience.

  • Your question is about helping a regular crew, and specifically AF447 about sensing the aircraft is stalled. That's another scenario, and doing better than a crew of three, of which two pilots very experienced on the aircraft type is not realistic at first sight (specially without CRM training). Nobody will be confident in you in this case. So the negative reception of your question because this is not seen as a possible solution.

The closed question may have contributed to the rejection reaction in parallel.


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