November 2016

Project Lessons From Aviation (Part 3): Avoiding Communication Overload in a Crisis With “NITS”

Airplane Seats

Image Credit: © “hxdyl”, #79427647

Whenever I’m travelling by air, I’m always fascinated by the layout of the equipment on the plane. As a fairly regular traveller, I suspect I often notice things that other passengers don’t, and probably end up reading signs and notices that are intended for the crew rather than passengers.


After a couple of hours on a recent short-haul flight, I decided to freshen up and so headed toward the “washroom”. As is fairly normal, there was a queue, so I was standing in line for a few moments. While waiting, I noticed that there was a cabin crew jump-seat next to the WC, and just behind the seat there were a series of (what appeared to be) laminated emergency scenario cards. Now, as much as I would have loved to have a good rifle through these, I didn’t because (a) I suspect the crew would have soon stopped me and I’d have been banned from flying with that airline again and (b) seeing emergency procedures from a crew’s perspective probably would have scared the life out of me!


However, I did see part of one of the cards, and my eye was drawn to an acronym which really stuck with me. So much so, that I wrote it down when I got back to my seat:


Special Circumstances

Now, I can only guess what the relevance of this acronym is in aviation (so if there are any pilots or cabin crew reading, I’d love to know if my interpretation is correct), but I can imagine two potential uses: