re: Cabin lights dimmed during finals at night

From:         entmlf@cr41.staffs.ac.uk (Martin at Staffs University, UK)
Date:         11 Aug 94 13:30:14 
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Scott Decker wrote:

>It's been a time sense I last went some place on a commercial A/L but I 
>noticed just the other day while watching a 737 land at RENO that the 
>cabin lights were dimmed or turned off on final approach. I was wondering 
>if anybody knows why the A/L (not all do this I'm sure?) do this? I think 
>I can rest assured that it's not not due to glare in the pilots rear-view 
>mirror :-).
>Any answer is better than none RIGHT?
>Scott Decker
>Reno NV.


I've travelled with many airlines, and in my experience they ALL dim the
lights, at night, when on finals.  I asked several pilots, and many
stewardesses, why this is done:  they had no idea, it just WAS!  It became
more and more mysterious - was it to save power(!), was it to avoid distracting
motorists down below, was it to help people sleep during the long taxy to the
gate?  Maybe it let passengers see the city below without distracting 
reftections?

Earlier this year I flew with  a small airline, and the Chief Stewardess
DID know why is is done.  Basically, when the cabin lights are dimmed at
night, it lets the passengers' eyes get used to the dark.  If there were to
be a crash whilst landing, with the lights full on, the sudden darkness (if 
power failed totally) would leave people groping in the dark.  A few minutes 
of dimmed lighting prepares the eyes to see in the dark, and passengers could 
see their way out much better.

I reckon she had got the correct reason, though it's strange that so few
cabin staff know WHY they do WHAT!

Martin
entmlf@cr41.staffs.ac.uk