While car horns alert nearby drivers of your presence, airplane horns serve a different purpose. You may ask yourself: “When does an airplane need to honk its horn?” Well, this does not have a simple answer. To better understand the importance of the aircraft horn, this blog will cover when it is used, what it sounds like, and where it is located.
It may come as a surprise that aircraft horns are not actually designed for pilots to use. In fact, during flight, it does not work since the airplane warning system is turned off. As it can be deduced, airplanes do not have horns to alert other aircraft of their presence. Instead, they are utilized as an invaluable form of communication when a plane is in a hangar undergoing maintenance.
More than that, airplane horns are only used by ground engineers who are working in the cockpit and need to get the attention of the ground crew. However, if workers on the ground necessitate the attention of their colleagues in the cockpit, a headset can be plugged into a small compartment located near the nose of the aircraft, allowing for a bridge of communication.
On aircraft, the horn is not located on the steering wheel, or yoke. A button labeled “Ground,” or “GND,” on the instrument panel, when pressed, sounds the horn. The loudspeaker that projects the sound can be found underneath the belly, where the landing gear is retracted.
In terms of sound, aircraft horns make a sound similar to the noise generated by steamboats, ensuring that anyone in the vicinity can hear it. Aircraft can also automatically emit a sound that differs based on the specific problem that needs tending to, such as a potential fire or system failure.
Beyond this main horn, there are a number of other sounds that may go off, depending on the situation at hand. When there are cabin pressure issues, a continuous horn may be sounded. Configuration issues, like flaps or speed brakes that cannot get properly configured prior to takeoff, get a beeping sound or a horn that toots at intervals.
If the aircraft is moving between altitudes, the horn will make a single chime noise as an indication of this change. If the gear configuration is unsafe, a horn and indicator lights will come on. Similarly, if the autopilot System is disconnected, red warning lights will come on and various horn sounds are ignited.
Alongside these auditory cues, there are also visual cues. These visual cues are in the form of multicolored lights. A red light signifies that immediate attention is required as is the case when the autopilot system is disconnected. Amber lights, on the other hand, mean that there is a situation that necessitates the crew’s immediate awareness. Lastly, blue lights serve as advisory signals, meaning everything is fine.
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