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When the pilot says "cross-check" before landing, what does this mean?

Dear Anita,

When the pilot says "cross-check" before landing, what does this mean?

Michael W.
Cambridge, MA


Dear Michael,

The voices you hear over the PA system are the flight attendants', not the pilots'. When you hear, "cross-check 1L, 1R 2L, 2R, etc." or "cross check complete," you hear the flight attendants communicating to each other that the inflatable evacuation slides on the cabin doors are armed or have been disarmed." In the case for departure, the lead flight attendant will then tell the captain that the cabin is secure; thus the plane is ready to push back from the gate.

Depending on the aircraft, the slides are armed by attaching the slide girt bar to the cabin floor (often you'll here a clanging sound), or by pushing down a lever on the door. Flight attendants will then place a flag (or placard) over the door window to warn agents and caterers that the door is armed. At the end of the flight, they will "disarm" the slide, remove the flag (or placard), and state "cross-check or 1L, 1R 2L, 2R, etc." again to let the lead flight attendant know that all the slides have been "disarmed." Passengers can then "de-plane," and caterers can enter the galley doors.

Arming and disarming the slides is serious business. If the slide is armed and someone (flight attendant, agent, caterer, or mechanic) accidentally opens the door, he or she can be seriously hurt or even killed. Furthermore, it is very expensive when a slide "pops," costing an airline between $10,000 and $50,000 (depending upon the aircraft) per slide in maintenance costs, plus the lost revenue due to the aircraft being temporarily out of service until a new slide is installed. If flight attendants fail their safety duties to arm or disarm their assigned doors, they are subject to leave for re-training, or worse, termination.

I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!

Anita Dunham-Potter

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