Passengers would be told about most problems if they occurred
Pilot and author Patrick Smith says that nervous flyers need not look for signs of nervousness in the crew as a signal of imminent disaster. Passengers are always told about any emergencies or serious malfunctions – and many smaller problems too, such as a landing gear issues, pressurization, engine trouble or the need for a precautionary landing.
But there is good reason that pilots do not describe every little problem. For the pilot to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain. Just to let you know, we’ve received a failure indication for the backup loop of the smoke detection system in the aft cargo compartment” would invite unnecessary worry with its easily misunderstood jargon.
Smith recalls a JetBlue flight that made an emergency landing in Los Angeles in 2005 because of a landing gear problem. The three-hour incident – so long because the plane had to burn fuel before landing – was broadcast live on network television, causing huge distress to passengers and their families. But those with any knowledge of aircraft knew that there was little danger of disaster in that particular case.