This is a Hipmunk guest post from Scott Simko, a U.S. Commercial Airline pilot of over 15 years. His views and opinions are his and his alone and do not represent the airline of his employment or Hipmunk.
As we are vectored to the approach, we are looking out for other aircraft. This will seem pretty obvious, but is worth bringing up: most planes (big and small) are headed either to an airport or away from one. The airspace can get quite busy.
Luckily, the Traffic Collission Avoidance System (TCAS) was implemented in the mid 90s. Basically, it shows where other aircraft are in relation to you. See the image below. The diamonds, squares, and circles are all aircraft either above or below your plane. An algorithm dictates the color and shape, which signifies its importance.
Once lined up for landing, we set up for an instrument approach — even if it’s a beautiful day. Why? We all make mistakes and we want to guard against any possibility of error. And let’s face it, mistakes in aviation usually end badly. Needless to say, we are very busy during this phase of the flight.
Once we touch down, we taxi to the gate. The safest part of your journey is over and the most dangerous is just about to begin. Drive home safely!
If you have any questions about any part of your flying experience please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.
The image above is from Tony George’s Photostream.