Yes, airplanes do have horns!
But something that may come as a surprise is that an airplane’s horn isn’t actually designed for the pilot to use.
In fact, during flight, it won’t work because the plane’s signaling or warning system will be turned off.
So, what possible use could a horn in an airplane be used for?
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Why Airplanes Have Horns
The purpose of a horn in a car and other vehicles is so a driver can warn others of their approach or presence. If you’re thinking that there is no need for pilots to sound the horn to warn other aircraft of their approach or presence, you’re correct.
Airplanes don’t have horns to alert other aircraft during flight, but are instead used as an invaluable form of communication while a plane sits in a hangar and undergoes maintenance.
An airplane’s horn is usually only used by ground engineers who are working in the cockpit and need to get the attention of the ground crew.
What about if workers on the ground need to get the attention of their colleagues in the cockpit?
In this case, a headset can be plugged into a small compartment that is located near the front of the aircraft, which allows direct communication with those in the cockpit.
Where the Horn on an Airplane is Located
In a car, you can’t miss the horn; it is found on the steering wheel.
On a plane, however, the horn is not located on the yoke, which is considered the steering wheel of the plane, and is harder to find.
Instead, a button labeled “Ground” or “GND” is positioned in the midst of many other commands on the instrument panel. When pressed, the horn will sound.
If you’re wondering where the horn’s loudspeaker is located, you can find it underneath the airplane in the position where the landing gear is retracted.
What an Airplane Horn Sounds Like
An airplane’s horn sounds as if steamboats are passing underneath.
So, there’s no doubt that when sounded it will catch the attention of anyone in the vicinity.
An airplane can also automatically emit a sound that varies depending on the specific problem that needs attending to, such as when there’s a fire or an issue with a certain system.
Along with this auditory cue, there are also visual cues in the form of multicolored lights.
- Red lights mean that immediate attention is required
- Amber lights mean that there is a situation that requires the crew’s immediate awareness
- Blue lights are advisory and mean that everything is fine
Aircraft Aren’t Required to Have Horns
Commercial airliners may have horns, but there is currently no regulation that requires all aircraft in operation to have horns.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.