John Cox Special to USA TODAY
Published 7:45 AM EDT Oct 18, 2019
Last weekend, a JetBlue flight had to divert due to smoke and an “electrical smell” in the cockpit. What might cause that, how big of a deal is it and has it ever happened to you?
An electrical smell must be considered a potential fire until it can be conclusively determined otherwise. Usually, it is a cooling fan or some other electrical device that is hot but not a true fire. The JetBlue crew did the right thing in diverting. An in-flight fire is one of the most serious conditions a pilot can face, therefore it is taken very seriously.
FAA reports indicate that smoke or smell events do happen. Fortunately, actual fires are very, very rare and pilots train for this situation.
I, too, have experienced electrical smells and light smoke in the flight deck. We were able to determine the source and isolate the problem component.
Most of the country is preparing to turn their clocks back on Nov. 3. How much of a pain is this for flight crews and dispatchers? And do they have as much trouble as the rest of us telling time in places like Arizona where they don't observe daylight savings time?
Twice a year, we are reminded of the change on those very early Sunday mornings. When on short overnight stays with outbound flights the following morning, I have seen messages from dispatchers saying, “Please remember that tonight is the change to/from daylight saving time.” This is so that crews can make sure their alarm clocks are set properly for the morning.
Flights that are already in progress at the time of the change are not affected due to the use of Universal Coordinated Time, the worldwide standard. It does not change.
The very few areas that do not change are a challenge for crews to remember which time zone they are in during the time of the year. Is Arizona on Mountain or Pacific time? In reality, they do not change from Mountain Standard Time, but part of the year they are in the same time zone as Denver and the other part of the year, they are in the LA time zone.